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Sidley Austin hikes London junior lawyer pay by 33% to £120,000

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‘MoneyLaw’ movement continues to rock the City

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Sidley Austin has upped the pay packets of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to a staggering £120,000.

Up from (a still magic circle busting) £90,000, this equates to an increase of £30,000 or 33%.

The Chicago-headquartered firm — which offers around ten London-based training contracts each year — appears to be responding directly to a number of pay hikes by US firms in the City, triggered by New York-headquartered giant Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

Earlier this summer, Cravath upped the pay of its US-based junior lawyers from $160,000 (£110,000) to $180,000 (£124,000). A host of top US firms — including Sidley Austin (email below) — quickly followed suit, matching what was dubbed in the US legal press as the “Cravath pay level”.

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But the good times didn’t stop there. Many firms have chucked the same pay increases at their London-based cohort. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, Latham & Watkins, Simpson Thacher, Kirkland & Ellis, Davis Polk and Akin Gump NQs all now pocket a cool £124,000.

Not quite matching the coveted £124,000 pay level, London’s Sidley Austin lawyers will have to make do with just £120,000 for the time being. Trainee pay at the US giant remains unchanged with those in their first year taking home £44,000, rising to £48,000 in their second.

Late last year Sidley Austin — the firm where President Obama met his wife when she supervised him during a vac scheme — announced another large pay increase, upping NQ pay packets from £75,000 to £90,000. So in less than one year Sidley has boosted London NQ pay by a whopping £45,000. Alright for some.