Kirkland & Ellis introduces salary cap after currency fluctuations saw London NQ dollar-pegged pay packets swell to over £140,000

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By Thomas Connelly on

Brexit and Trump have led to a volatile exchange rate


US giant Kirkland & Ellis has introduced a salary cap for its London-based associates after currency fluctuations saw the firm’s newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers pocket over £140,000 a year.

Legal Cheek understands that the firm — which offers around 10 London training contracts each year — has implemented an upper and lower limit on currency exchanges to prevent massive fluctuations in its dollar-pegged salaries.

Last summer MoneyLaw mania swept across the US thanks to New York-headquartered giant Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Upping its NQ salaries from $160,000 (£110,000) to $180,000 (£124,000), a host of firms — including Kirkland — followed suit.

Chucking the same pay increases at its London cohort, Kirkland — in a move it probably regrets now — pegged its pay packets against the dollar. So back in October, when the country was gripped in a downward spiral of Brexit uncertainty, Kirkland’s UK lawyers were reaching for the Bollinger.

Late last year, with the sterling hitting a new 31-year low against the dollar, the US giant’s lucky junior lawyers watched its pay packets swell from £124,000 to an almost unbelievable £142,000 in just a matter of months.

But it would appear enough is enough.

Introducing what is believed to be a capped rate maximum of $1.63 for every £1, and a minimum rate of $1.25, the firm — which scored A* for quality of work, office, and perks in Legal Cheek’s 2016 Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey — hopes to curtail the huge salary increases experienced towards the back end of last year.

And Kirkland’s London lot might be grateful for that lower cap in the months to come. With President Trump signing executive orders like they’re going out of fashion, it’s difficult to predict what future effect he will have on an already volatile exchange rate.

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