K&L Gates’ London associate pay remains unchanged despite having target hours hiked by 30%

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By Thomas Connelly on

Lawyers now expected to clock up 2,088 billable hours each year


K&L Gates’ London lawyers have had their billable hours target upped by a whopping 30%, but will not receive a salary increase.

Prior to the hike an associate at the US giant’s City office had an annual billing target of 1,606 hours. According to Legal Cheek’s Most List this put the firm on a similar billing level to that of Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper and fellow US outfit Jones Day.

Now, firm insiders have told Legal Cheek that K&L Gates’ top brass has decided to up the billing target — the number of hours a lawyer is expected to clock-up on client-related work over a given year — in its London office to 2,088. Equating to a hefty increase of 30%, this leaves the outfit’s United Kingdom cohort trying to find a further 482 hours of billable work each year. This roughly equates to an extra one-and-a-half hours a day. K&L Gates did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.

In an internal email sent to the firm’s lawyers, and subsequently seen by Legal Cheek, K&L Gates’ management explains it is bringing its international outposts — including London — in line with targets implemented across its US offices.

However, in a move that hasn’t been well received by some lawyers, there will be, Legal Cheek understands, no pay rise to reflect the increase in workload.

As it stands a newly qualified (NQ) lawyer at the firm — thanks in part to a 4% salary increase last November — pockets a very respectable £71,000 a year. But compare this with a Latham & Watkins NQ, for example. They have billing targets of 1,900 hours, almost 200 hours less than their counterparts at K&L Gates, and are paid an eye-watering £124,000 (£53,000 more).

It is also worth noting that back in June, as MoneyLaw mania swept across America, K&L gates upped the pay packets of its lawyers across ten US offices. Already on a very impressive $160,000 (£130,000), salaries (look away now London associates) swelled to an incredible $180,000 (£145,000).

But it’s not all doom and gloom over at K&L Gates. The firm — which offers around ten UK training contracts annually — was a strong performer in Legal Cheek’s 2016 Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. Scoring highly across the board, the firm landed A* for office environment and work/life balance. All eyes will be on the firm’s work/life balance score this year given today’s news.

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