News

Kirkland & Ellis ups trainee pay to £50-55k as Macfarlanes boosts to £44-49k

By on
51

A lot of money for 22 and 23-year-olds

The London office of US titan Kirkland & Ellis and high-end M&A specialists Macfarlanes have upped trainee pay packets in simultaneous moves that will see their rookies’ earnings increase substantially.

We can reveal that Kirkland’s year one trainees will now earn £50,000, up from £46,000 (a 9% bump), while those a year ahead will pocket before tax £55,000, up from £50,000 (a 10% rise). The pay boosts — which come into effect next month — put the firm’s young lawyer hopefuls at the top of Legal Cheek’s trainee pay table, and on the same levels of cash as their peers at fellow US firms Davis Polk and Sullivan & Cromwell.

Elite corporate outfit Macfarlanes has made a similar move. First year trainees at the firm will now earn £44,000, rising to £49,000 in year two. Prior to the boosts trainees received £42,000 and £46,000 respectively. The move comes just a month after Macfarlanes raised its NQ pay by a whopping 17%, with new associates now earning a very respectable £81,300.

Although unchanged, Gherkin-based Kirkland’s newly-qualified (NQ) pay is monstrous. Off the back of last year’s MoneyLaw mania across the pond, a host of elite firms, including Kirkland, bumped US year one associate pay to $180,000. Incredibly, some opted to chuck the same rises at their London lot, resulting in dollar-tied NQ salaries hitting a high of £147,000. Kirkland’s newly qualified UK solicitors currently earn just over £140,000 based on current exchange rates.

Kirkland and Macfarlanes have had mixed autumn trainee retention rate fortunes this year. The former recently announced a disappointing 56% score (5 out of 9). Legal Cheek understands that the low figure is a result of NQs being unable to qualify into their department of choice. Macfarlanes, however, managed a very respectable 92%, with 23 of its 25 trainees being taken on permanently as full-fledged solicitors, and the other two getting fixed term contracts.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub.

51 Comments

Anonymous

Can anyone offer me some advice on smashing the GDL?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Start drinking as soon as possible.

(28)(0)

Anonymous

Once you get over the volume of work, the GDL is not particularly difficult.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Write on every exam ‘This is an artificial construct, akin to the Matrix, and I intend to escape it’. Then burn the exam hall before jumping into the flames to effect said escape.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

This, or before the exam eat a large seafood curry, making sure that the prawns are 2 weeks past their sell by date. Wear an adult nappy, and when the resultant defecation storm arrives, remove said nappy and walk over to the nearest invigilator, trousers down, and smear its contents in his or her face, whilst screaming “THIS IS THE EXAM, GIVE ME A DISTINCTION”. Works every time.

(9)(0)

Trietel

Now that’s what I classify as equitable relief.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

such a betacuck Trietel

(0)(0)

W&C Moscow Partner

Elite bantz, you be hired.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Someone on here has an adult nappy fixation.

Or is it more than one…?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

What you talking about you betacunt

Anonymous

“A lot of money for 22 and 23-year-olds.”

Age discrimination lawsuit time, baby.

(37)(0)

Anonymous

According to the SRA the average age of qualification is 29.5, and I (unfortunately) will be qualifying much past that. I’ve met a number of trainees from a few American firms and many of them have been in their later 20s, starting TCs between 25+ after a few years of paralegal work or completing another degree. How many fresh-faced 21 year old grads really fill up their ranks?

(7)(0)

Anonymous

You will find that the majority of magic circle firms/top firms will source their trainees from university- vac scheme in 2nd year summer…tc offer beginning of 3rd year 🙂

(3)(6)

Anonymous

And when they finish their TCs at the age of 23 they get the joy of calling themselves qualified solicitors whilst they continue grabbing coffees and photocopying for another 3 or so years. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll let them out of the broom closet to meet a visiting client when they reach the Senior Associate level at 5+ years PQE.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

anon at 11:11 is basically correct for the most part.
barristers at comm sets do tend to be okder and have had previous careers. which is one reason why comparing figures isn’t quite comparable.
but sols, nope…they mostly come fro vac schemes. and yes certainly the MC takes most straight out of uni.
US firms are not homogeneous but still mostly and increasingly follow this vac scheme pattern. Cleary recruits everyome off the vac scheme. Kirkland like most recruits mostly off the scheme. Almost everyone applying and getting on the scheme are uni kids. As a slightly older trainee myself in my late 20s, my experience is that US firms are not afraid of having the odd recruit slightly older…sometimes will hire 2 or 3 for commonalities. But for the most part they are young uns. Skadden and Sidley for example are all under 25 or about that starting for my intake year I think.
Also the trend is for high calibre people with first class academics who tend not to have paralegalled for years. Most people are Oxbridge with firsts or very good 2:1s….and firsts if they didn’t go there. That is the rule I think ti which there are some exceptions.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I believe there is a Wu-Tang song that perfectly illustrates the working life of a K&L trainee.

(3)(1)

Whipped

C.R.E.A.M?

(3)(0)

CMS Trainee

I hear CMS will be matching imminently

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Would the life of a CMS trainee be accurately summarised by ‘A Heart Gently Weeps’ (Wu-Tang Clan (2007))?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Have you prepared sufficiently for unemployment?

(0)(1)

Anon

LOL -While the constant bashing of CMS is actually funny, I still think most people hating on them haven’t got TCs yet and if offered would still train at CMS

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Shit firm lol

(3)(3)

Anonymous

The only people who like it there are those who have never worked at a different firm.

(6)(4)

Anon.

Money, money, money. Blah, blah, blah. Dull writing as usual. Standard for an article by Thomas.

(10)(13)

Anonymous

Money and corporate law go hand in hand, so why don’t you bugger off to the drawing board and think of something original to say you urchin.

(15)(5)

Anonymous

Powerful words, keyboard warrior.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Macs paying second year trainees more than Allen and Overy and Freshfields.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

B-b-b-but muh prestige!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Haven’t announced salaries yet.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

And Slaughter And May.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

“while those a year ahead will pocket before tax £55,000, up from £50,000 (a 10% rise).”

Thanks for clearing that up

(11)(1)

Anonymous

*Tom is bent over his calculator in LC Towers (a cheap office somewhere in a aging 60s business park in North London), an expression of pained concentration over his face*

Katie: Tom, would you like a cuppa? I’m thinking of going to grab one from the café round the corner if you want? The owner is a misogynist pig, as he only employs one other person, a man, but I need the caffeine, to fuel my latest Twitter/RoF/Daily Mail trawl for stories.
Tom: No reply
Alex *perched on the sofa in the room, a regal expression across his face, looks up from his Sudoku*: Katie, I’d leave him to it, he’s got a real scoop on that latest trainee salary/retention article. A whole new angle. This is going to be huge.

Katie: what could that be?

TOM *shouting, standing up from the desk, causing the chair to drop to the floor*: I’VE GOT IT!.

Alex *Leaning forward in his chair, thoughts of the increased revenues and the possibility of not having to sleep under a pile of “Denning is my homeboy” T-shirts in his mum’s garage rushing through his mind*: Yes…?

Tom: The first years will get £50k, right? The second years get £55k…. *dramatic pause, excited expression crosses Tom’s face*

Katie: Yes, so..?

Tom: People won’t realise this, but that’s a whopping 10% more they’ll pocket!

Alex *stands excitedly, hugs Tom*: Tom, you’ve done it! You’re a genius. You’ll both be getting paid from now on!

(79)(1)

Anonymous

Goodness me, comments like this make me lol so hard! Absolutely brutal.

(13)(0)

Thomas Connelly

I must confess even I enjoyed reading that! 😂

(37)(0)

Alex the Big Boss

Shut the fuck up Tommy or I’ll drill ya.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Outstanding work!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I need more of this in the future to escape the drudging monotony that is my job and the general cancer that is the LC comments section.

(1)(0)

Jones Day equity partner

I smell potential lateral hires.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I wonder what the Legal Cheek staff get paid. Is Katie King on:

A) Under 20,000
B) 20,000 to 29,999
C) 30,000 to 39,999
D) 40,000 or more

(3)(2)

Anonymous

And how much is Conor on? Time to have full disclosure and verify the facts from the fake news.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Kirkland & Ellis are top dogs

(10)(1)

Kommissar Bantz

More like hotdogs…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Why would anyone not want to go to Kirkland at this point?

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Because those at MC firms/other elite US shops can confidently say they work many fewer hours and have a much, much greater work life balance. Regardless of practice area.

(4)(7)

Anonymous

Which, if you work in private practice in transactional corporate / finance, you know for a fact to be an absolute load of bollocks.

(9)(1)

Anonymous

I thought I sensed a tone of sarcasm in that initial reply

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Quality of work/training is still undoubtedly better at MC.

(8)(4)

Anonymous

How do you know this? Many of the corporate / private equity partners are bringing MC quality work to Kirkland, and it’s sponsor side finance practice has outperformed the MC for a while. K&E are also building a top tier competition practice, so I’m not sure its key practice areas offer work of lower quality than the MC. Perfectly legit for trainees with an interest in PE to choose Kirkland over MC firms. Only thing you need to be prepared for is a brutally meritocratic culture, which some people thrive on.

(5)(4)

Anonymous

10/10 future trainee

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Thanks. Kirkland shits on Freshfields.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

🎼Chick…chick…chick…chick…chicken….

Lay a little egg for meeeeeeeee!!!!!🎶

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.