Womble Bond Dickinson: Tie-up creating new £340 million transatlantic law firm confirmed

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Duo cement combination following successful ‘strategic alliance’

National law firm Bond Dickinson and US outfit Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice are set to combine to create a new transatlantic giant within the legal market.

Womble Bond Dickinson, boasting a combined revenue of £340 million, will have have over 1,000 lawyers across 23 offices. Headed up by 420 partners, the tie-up will officially go live this October, creating a top 20 outfit here in the United Kingdom and top 80 firm over in the United States.

Building on the duo’s successful year-long “strategic alliance”, Jonathan Blair, managing partner at Bond Dickinson, said:

We are delighted by this transformational development which would not have been possible without the support of our clients, the inherent cultural alignment between our firms and the enthusiasm of our people in driving the success of our exclusive strategic alliance with Womble Carlyle.

Legal Cheek’s Most List shows that Bond Dickinson — which offers around 30 training contracts annually across its eight offices — has a profit per equity partner (PEP) of £275,000. The firm scored As for training, quality of work, peer support, partner approachability and work/life balance in our 2016 Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, and its latest retention rate is 78%.

Across the pond, Womble Carlyle — the slightly larger of the two outfits with 15 offices — describes itself as a “full-service business law firm” with over 550 lawyers.

Commenting on the combination, Betty Temple, chair and chief executive officer of Womble Carlyle, said:

This exciting combination elevates our offering and proposition in the US to ensure we are consistently in tune with the evolving ambitions and needs of all our clients and that we can successfully execute on our growth strategy.

The deal follows a similar tie-up between UK-based international outfit Eversheds and US law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. With discussions first revealed back in December, the new law firm is now called Eversheds Sutherland and has 2,300 lawyers across 61 offices and 29 countries.

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Womble. That is all.



Exciting LOL.


Bond Dickinson Trainee

YES, big dolla US firm £100k NQ rate money train here we come!!! Choo-choo!!!!


Rupert; a US firm trainee.

£100k he says haha. £147k is where it’s at these days. Keep up.



I’m on £25k as a 6PQE, anything helps.


Toby; an MC firm trainee

Lol stop smoking that shit you moron, unless you’re at Akin or Kirklands you won’t get £147k NQ at other US shops. Considering how many there are in the Square Mile it’ll likely average out at around £100k or less.



A bit chippy there aren’t we?



@ chippy MC trainee

No. Almost all US firms pay over 110k base to NQs. There are still about 3 US firms which pay 90-95k base, Ropes, Covington…i think. But the bast majority pay bases between 110 and 125. Only Milkbank, Akin, Kirkland and i think one other are the exceptions and pay higher.

And the bonuses are not taken into account of the base and they are muuuuuuch better than the MC esp as time goes on. 10% bonus or higher is common for an NQ so most earn on the 120s and 130s all in, nearly double what you’ll make.


Distinctly un-chippy MC Trainee

Any evidence on “Milkbank” (sic) paying same as Akin Gump or K&E, dear Anonymous?

Your comment is full of such BS hearsay I ain’t even gonna comment on the rest – go do some research and you’ll find out there’s some 40-50+ US firm offices in London, and only a distinct few pay the £110k base rates you mention.


Typing quickly on phone to a child on internet. I’m a 2PQE at a US firm and i know the market. I dont need to be spoken down to by someone who isnt in it, the salaries on chambers student are broadly correct

Check it out and firm profiles…majority which recruit trainees publish and those whjch dont i know about over 110 below:
Skadden, sidley, weil, debevoise, cleary, gibson dunn, paul hastings, sullivan, arnold, cadawalder, simpson thatcher, davis polk, i think dorsey and fried frank, latham, vinson, wilmer hale, winston, and obvs akin gump, milbank and kirkland…
Thats like over 20 and includes all of the biggest us firms in london…and there are a smattering of others like shearman at 105 or something
I know of some of the above having gone for junior positions
They advertise NY rates or whatever which is now c.115k plus bonus.
Pretty much all of them have matched the 110 to 125k bracket. Us firms do this all around the world matching the so called cravath scale. They always pretty much match each other. There are exceptions which have v small offices in london which havent.

Milbank had salary review putting them to 125 last year in july. I didnt say they match kirkland or akin. I think they have taken it up to 130 end of last year. In any case they are at the top end in london.

Distinctly un-chippy MC Trainee

Nice try, but somewhat incorrect you “so-called Cravath Scale”.

I concur that the firms you list do likely all pay £100k+ but that’s still only a quarter of all the US firms in London (alright, “distinct few” might have pushed it there), and pretty much all of the ‘pure breed’ US London offices who also hire at graduate level (although WilmerHale does not). No idea where you got this from but Dorsey & Whitney (a firm from Minneapolis, MI) are definitely not on £100k NQ.

Also, the initial contention of the above comments was that whilst there indeed are US firms which pay exceptionally well (i.e. the £120k+ bracket), the average US NQ salary will be far less, around the £100k mark. I don’t believe you’ve disproved this.

Finally, who said I’m gonna stay with my MC firm after qualifying? 😉


“but that’s still only a quarter of all the US firms in London”
No, no. I can see you’re hard of thinking so I’ll have to repeat, only once:
1. These firms pay over 110k, not 100k as you slipped in. It’s not “likely”, they do.
2. The firms I’ve mentioned include pretty much all US firms which recruit trainees, and these firms are usually relatively sizeable. The only good firms in London which I can think of which don’t are White & Case (who we see on the other side quite a lot, they’re good), Covington and Ropes. They also include ones which I have personal experience with i.e. I have interviewed/been offered from there and therefore know the salary details. That includes Dorsey, so whilst firms do pay case by case and not always homogeneously, it takes some balls for a trainee in a UK firm to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about here. Goes for WH, ST, few others too. As I say, I’m as associate.
3. It is not a complete list, just ones I know. Cravath, Paul Weiss, Quinn, Boies, probably Proskauer and O’Melveny pay over that too (in case of the first four, probably right at the top of US firms in London). Maybe others too…but US firms are not homogeneous, though it’s likely smaller shops match too based on what rec cons have told me.
4. It is totally, totally inaccurate to say the list above is a quarter of the US firms in London – this is the vast majority of the market. Virtually all of the other US firms in London are satellite offices; they take no trainees, they have usually 5 US qualified attorneys there, or at best around 10 people in total. Drinker Biddle has 5 US lawyers in London. Mintz has 2. The same goes for like 40 other US firms. You can’t compare that to the 275 lawyers Latham has in London or even the 85 GD has. The little shops don’t even really recruit on the junior end (in fact, the majority not at all!).
5. “average US NQ salary will be far less, around the £100k mark. I don’t believe you’ve disproved this.”
No, again slipping in 100k. Most pay in the 110-125k mark evidently, plus pay a minimum 10% bonus. So if you’re on 115k, you’ll get at least a 15k bonus, taking you to 130k.
And here you are talking about 100k or less in a completely different world of denial.
I should also say the bonuses get A LOT better as you go on relative to the MC. Bonuses are based on PQE so at 2PQE by base has not gone up *that* much, but my bonus has.


Nice rant, shame about the substance, self-professed US associate.


If you work at one how do you have the time to read Legal Cheek?!


Also meant to add, if you’re not chippy about someone earning twice as much as you doing the same hours but with more responsibility on the same job, something us wrong with you. I trained in the MC and it was a joke in terms of responsibility. You’re just about trusted with scissors.

WC Bond Dickinson

Catchy name. This shop will go FAR.


Uncle Bulgaria

I’m not at all happy with this.



“Headed up by 420 partners” at a total firm headcount of 1,000 lawyers.

Christ, each partner will be taking home about £5 at this rate…



I heard they’re going to cut costs by moving their office from More London to Wimbledon…



Dreadful name. The pay will no doubt be average.



Me thinks their marketing department will have a challenging time spinning this name change.



A press release suggests that they will specialise in rail infrastructure projects in the pro-bono sector.

You know the type of thing, under ground, over ground……….



Womble’s Betty Temple = Madame Cholet? Have you ever seen them in the same room?!



Dickin Womble Son LLP


T Mayne

Common as muck



They won’t see a pay increase. They pay average rates in the regions (38k for an NQ + 10k if you’re in London) you’d be lucky to get £55k at 5PQE. I doubt very much will change on the ground. Certainly not elite or even city US law firm rates.



Wrong. £42k in the regions for a NQ but varies slightly on location. £62k in London.

That is competitive and it either matches/beats the likes of Eversheds, Addleshaws, Pinsents etc both in the regions and in London.


BD associate in London

Why are you lying, HR person? London NQs are not even close to £62k!



£37.5K in NCL isn’t even the best in the city…



62k for an NQ in London is not competitive. This firm will now be in the top 20. 70k at least is competitive. Why on earth would an associate work in the London office of this firm (central London) with London living costs for such a low wage? I can understand the regional life choice but if they want to grow in London they will need to employ and pay properly for talent. Their regional salaries are not competitive with the likes of Burges Salmon and Simmons & Simmons who are both in Bristol where this firm’s main base is. They are a regional firm who landed an office in London.



Bond Dickinson isn’t really a London law firm. I think they have one or two trainees in London and a handful of associates. All on poxy wages compared to the top City firms. Low 30s for a trainee and mid 40s for an NQ.

I can’t see this merger making much difference. Seems like a slightly bizarre match up to be honest.


High street

Christ, getting paid in the mid-40s as an NQ in London… That’s about as bad as it gets.



Welcome to Blake Morgan @ £47k NQ at New Street Square.

So glad I am not a trainee at that shite outfit



That’s just awful. There’s paralegals out there pulling in £60-70k+ at top US firms…


Jones Day Partner

I wouldn’t mind merging with a widely-spread, experienced and multi-disciplined outfit.

Must have words with HR.


Person with brain

Looks like the marketing department had a tight budget this year… what an awful name. How will this be abbreviated? Womble? Sounds terrible.



Remember you’re a womble remember you’re a womble la la la



Wimble womble wimble womble jelly on a plate.



Eversheds is now 68k






Oh, sorry. I stand corrected.

Why do such a large firm pay so averagely?



Bigger not always better. Why does Baker Mckenzie not pay more than Davis Polk?



Because polishing the white shoes of the likes of Davis Polk lawyers has low profit margins.


High street



Womble Snogger

Says a lot about firms such as Addleshaw with Bond Dickinson getting that all elusive US merger. Very funny, given Addleshaw’s ego.

Fair play to them, let’s hope all goes well.


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