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

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By Thomas Connelly on

‘MoneyLaw’ movement continues to rock the City


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”.


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.