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Kirkland & Ellis ups London NQ salaries to £143,000

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Follows moves by US players Milbank and Simpson Thacher

Kirkland & Ellis has bumped the salaries of its US lawyers by $10,000. This means the firm’s London-based junior lawyers, whose salaries are pegged to the dollar, are now on an eye-watering £143,000.

Last week, Kirkland confirmed it was upping the salaries of its US cohort from $180,000 (£135,500 based on today’s conversion) to $190,000 (£143,000). This saw the firm match moves by big US players including: Milbank, Quinn Emanuel, Simpson Thacher, Weil Gotshal, Jones Day, Debevoise and Plimpton, and Sullivan & Cromwell.

Milbank, which kicked off the stateside rises earlier this month, confirmed to Legal Cheek at the time that its London lot would be handed the same dollar-pegged salary uplifts. Just 48 hours later, Simpson Thacher announced the same global increases.

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And now Kirkland has confirmed to Legal Cheek that it has done the same. This means the firm’s Gherkin-based City trainees, who earn £55,000 in their second year, will see their salaries rise by a crazy 160% on qualification.

Kirkland became one of the first US firms to peg its UK salaries against the dollar following a series of similar pay hikes in 2016. However, with the sterling hitting a new 31-year low against the dollar at the time, the firm’s City NQs saw their salaries swell from £124,000 to a high of £142,000 in just a matter of months. Kirkland — which offers around ten London training contract positions annually — later implemented an upper and lower limit on currency exchanges to stem the massive salary fluctuations.

Yesterday, Legal Cheek reported US litigation boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had upped the salaries of its London-based NQ lawyers to £125,000. Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows Quinn’s NQs are now £1,000 better off than their counterparts at Latham & Watkins, and a full £5,000 above those plying their trade at Cleary Gottlieb or Sidley Austin.

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