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Latham & Watkins becomes latest firm to hike London junior solicitor pay to £143,000

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US summer pay war continues to rock UK market

US powerhouse Latham & Watkins has become the latest outfit to bump the salaries of its London newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to £143,000. The increase follows similar UK rate rises by a host of its US rivals including Akin Gump, Kirkland & Ellis, Fried Frank, Milbank and Simpson Thacher.

Latham splashed the cash late last week and upped the salaries of its US-based newbies to $190,000 (£143,000). This in response to a series of rises triggered by New York-headquartered giant Milbank earlier this month.

But the good times don’t stop there. Latham, which offers around 24 City training contracts annually, has now confirmed its London lot will receive the same six-figure sum — an uplift of roughly £19,000 or 15%. Trainee remuneration currently sits at £46,000 in year one, rising to £48,000 in year two.

Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows Latham’s London NQs are now £23,000 ahead of their counterparts at US duo Cleary Gottlieb and Sidley Austin (£120,000), and a whopping £25,000 over and above those plying their trade at fellow New Yorker Skadden (£118,000). Not quite matching the new coveted £143,000 pay level, Quinn Emanuel confirmed last week that its City NQs will now receive a salary of £125,000, a rise of £10,000 or 9% — a sum still impressive enough turn even most well-remmunerated of magic circle lawyers green with envy.

The 2018 Firms Most List

Monster remuneration aside, Latham was a solid performer in our Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. It received As for, among other things, quality of work, office and perks, and Bs for training, peer support and partner approachability. It could, however, only muster a D for work/life balance. Junior lawyers at the firm report an average arrival time of 9:32am and an average leave time of 8:38pm, roughly in line with other big US players in the City.

Earlier today, Legal Cheek brought you the news that Akin Gump had joined the US pay bonanza and increased US junior lawyer pay to $190,000. Like Latham, it too chucked the same increases at its London cohort.

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58 Comments

Anonymous

L&W don’t pay £143k, Pretty sure they use a fixed rate,

(15)(6)

Anonymous

Correct.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

An amazing lack of understanding of “news”

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Well they just said they do now ..

(6)(3)

Anonymous

Cleary don’t let us down

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Irwin Mitchell will bring up the rear for the UK firms with their reported NQ pay-rise of an extra 30 minutes outside their kennels

(22)(0)

Anonymous

Come on White & Case, real in the money

(4)(5)

Tsk tsk

No raise for you, “reel”.

(34)(0)

Anonymous

Too many trainees taken on. White and Case are a glorified European firm with US origins. Don’t have the same model as the top highly leveraged US big law firms

(7)(2)

Anonymous

This. Much alike other US/UK merged shops such as Dechert, Mayer Brown or Reed Smith, they are unlikely to go for the “big dolla” compensation. The only US firm in London office I can feasibly see going for it in the near future is Shearman & Sterling, as they’re starting to seriously lag behind competition on pay.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

There are a few US firms (not merged UK) who are at around 100, yet pay $180-190 in the US.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Any word on if any of those firms are going to up?

(0)(0)

White & Case Assoc

You speak as if you are cognisant of their business model. Although W&C claims they take up to 50 trainees, the annual intake in reality hovers around 35, which honestly isn’t that far off from the likes of Latham. And considering how W&C has the highest revenue out of the top 50 US law firms in London, it certainly has the capacity to increase the salary of its NQ to match the new Milbank/Cravath scale.

(3)(12)

Joe Cocks QC

“cognisant” eh?

Why, you must be a very clever Assoc. indeed.

(24)(0)

Anonymous

The third person reference to the business model strains credulity in respect of the claim that he/she is a White & Case Associate.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

If I’m honest, I didn’t see this one coming.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I wasn’t looking.

(2)(0)

DWF Associate

Whilst DWF partners are thinking: ‘I wonder if I can get an NQ position at a proper law firm?’

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Directors on less than £85k. No surprise.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

No way.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Yes way.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

But a ‘Director’ is effectively a salaried partner in DWF-speak right?
So someone at least 6-7 PQE.

Why in the living name of St F*ck are these individuals still slaving away in such a pit when they can be paid entire multiples more someplace else? Bunch of masochists right there.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Those with no following. Face fits but unable to bring in work. Limited options.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Face fits?

Judging on the faces of some of the DWF directors I had the misfortune to saw, it’s like Dr Frankenstein’s monster revisited. Andy Leatherpants likes them nasty.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

CMS NQ pay is hefty.

(3)(2)

Random passer by

What is the new NQ pay?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

67k :,,,(

(0)(0)

US lad

Hefty, what a wadd

(1)(1)

Anonymous

For hours worked, it is.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

ROFL

(1)(0)

Anonymous

No raises this year for the roosters, the quality of the offices is enough of a benefit.

(1)(0)

Disgruntled ex CMS

CMS offices are above a train station and shops, so clearly they got a bit of a discount. Whilst the interior is nice, it isn’t that nice. Let’s all relax. Slaughters and Lathams both have nicer offices in my opinion. Freshfields too.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Slaughters’ building is ok but the actual offices that staff work from are smaller than average and very dark and dingy

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Anyone know the NQ salary of Dorsey & Whitney?

(0)(11)

Drew

Please stop incessantly asking about Dorsey & Whitney you insufferable melt.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

MC vac schemer

I am on a vac scheme at the moment and just seeing these salaries has left me so confused.. I get that the salaries aren’t going to be the same but why is there such a gulf? I do care about quality of work and culture, and wouldn’t say that money is the biggest factor in my firm choice, but the US firms pay almost double including bonuses? Am I missing something, is there far less job security/would there be more risk in a downturn or something?

(5)(3)

seniorassoc

Despite what the UK firms say, this isn’t because elite US firms work their lawyers significantly harder than the Magic Circle (they don’t) or because elite US firms have far fewer associates to feed. It’s because the most prestigious and profitable US firms run much more profitable businesses (Kirkland’s PEP is £3.5m, Freshfields’ PEP £1.5m), just like the Magic Circle are inherently more profitable than regional UK firms.

To reiterate this point, Kirkland pays its associates roughly double Magic Circle rates. Despite this increased cost (people are always a law firm’s greatest cost), the average Kirkland partner will take home roughly the same as a typical Slaughters partner (PEP £2m) and Freshfields partner (PEP £1.5m) together. The US is also the world’s best and richest legal market, and the best US firms operate more cannily than the best UK firms (they focus on the most profitable practice areas and don’t open offices in 20+ countries).

(22)(0)

Anonymous

But would you be as safe in a downturn?

(3)(3)

Anonymous

No one is strictly safe, it depends on your practice area and you yourself not your firm.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Is the Skadden rate for real still at 118k?

Find this hard to believe. Any Skadden assocs to confirm?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What’s the SullCrom rate? £101.5k surely not.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

SullCrom see themselves above announcing these things, old fashioned, but I heard their pay was around £130k (and that’s before these recent rises).

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Please confirm for McGuireWoods too – presumably above that now in London.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

McGuireWoods above £118k in London? Quit smoking that stuff already. 😂

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Last time I heard McGuireWoods was hovering around the £70k mark.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I think it’s frankly ridiculous that MC firms are allowed to get away with the myth that associate pay goes up every year and allow them to include bonuses in the total pay figures.

At Freshfields, a sizeable number of the associates in my team didn’t get bonuses this year. Also, the introduction of ‘merit based pay’ at Freshfields has meant that you are routinely held back at certain ‘merit gateways’ and told that only “exceptional performers” will go up a gateway each year and therefore see their pay go up every year.

At US firms – which are still largely lockstep and pay by PQE – this just doesn’t happen.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

The figures published by Clifford Chance are also so far removed from reality…

The office managing partner gave us a stern talk last year saying how we are not allowed to discuss these figures with the press. In other words, we have to cover up for them misrepresenting their figures to their benefit (and our ultimate detriment). Desperate much?

(7)(0)

Anonymous

CMS to announce raises this week.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Will be hefty

(0)(0)

Dale

Open to correction, but I don’t think Latham pay a spot rate?

Think they have jumped to around £130k after the latest round of increases.

Same applies to Simpson, Fried Frank and Milbank.

Would be ideal if Legal Cheek actually reached out for confirmation, rather than regurgitating articles from other sources without appreciating context.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. It’s only actually KE and AG paying 143k? Legal Cheek really need to stop reporting misinformation.

(10)(0)

St. John

Yes, only KE and AG paying spot rate.

Typically ill-researched bilge from Legal Cheek.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Are the hours worth it though? I’m a paralegal in a US firm and make on average 3x my annual salary (due to OT) putting me way above SC NQ rates. I’ve not had dinner at home for at least 5 months.

(0)(0)

Garth

How can anyone else answer that for you?

(9)(0)

Anonymous

I’m not sure if you are attempting to show off or attempting to complain? In any event…that sounds utterly sh1t

(1)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not way above your making equivalent to 70 – 80 k max which is what most NQ silver circle law firms pay.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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