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Slaughter and May freezes lawyer pay as UK hit by hung parliament uncertainty

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But salaries will remain under review, says elite magic circle outfit

Slaughter and May has frozen the pay packets of its London-based lawyers. The news, which we understand was communicated internally last month, emerges today as the United Kingdom is hit by a wave of uncertainty following a shock hung parliament general election result.

Confirming the elite magic circle firm is pressing pause on pay increases, a spokesperson for Slaughters told Legal Cheek:

Following our annual salary review, our associates will move up to the next level in the firm’s salary scales. Associate salary scales were increased on 1 January 2017 following a major review of employee reward and recognition, and therefore we are not proposing a further change at this time.

Back in December, Slaughters — contrary to industry chatter suggesting game-changing six-figure salaries — announced a series of muted pay increases.

The firm’s fresh-faced associates were chucked an extra £6,500 (up 9% to £78,000), while lawyers with one to three years post qualification experience (PQE) were handed around £8,000 extra. Trainee pay remained unchanged, with first years pocketing £43,000, rising to £48,000 in year two.

Continuing, our Slaughter and May spokesperson said:

It is our intention, however, to keep our scales under review. Our associate remuneration is distributed in a way that mirrors the flat lockstep of the firm’s partnership and reflects the strong collective belief in Slaughter and May’s distinctive no billable hours targets culture.

The firm’s decision to skip its pay review is unlikely to sit well with its lawyers.

Legal Cheek’s Most List shows that the outfit’s newly qualified (NQ) talent earn just £500 more than their counterparts at Linklaters (£77,500) and £500 less than Allen & Overy lawyers (£78,500). As for the rest of the magic circle, NQs at Clifford Chance and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer pocket a whopping £7,000 more than Slaughters’ (£85,000).

But is this pay freeze in fact a shrewd move by the Square Mile lawyers?

This morning, the UK awoke to the news that the general election had thrown up a shock hung parliament result (no party has the 326 seats needed to get an overall majority in the House of Commons). Given the confusion over who will take the reins at Number 10 and the suggestion there should be another — yes, another — general election, uncertain times have just got more, well, uncertain.

With that being said, will Slaughters’ pay freeze trigger similar moves across the City? Only time will tell.

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