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MoneyLaw 2.0: US outfit Milbank ups London junior lawyer pay to £143,000

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Will others follow?

US heavyweight Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy could well have fired the starting pistol on another summer pay war after upping the salaries of its London-based newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to £143,000 ($190,000).

The Wall Street firm, which dishes out around five City training contracts annually, confirmed the staggering pay boost in an internal memo to its lawyers yesterday. Prior to the uplift, Milbank’s NQs received a salary of roughly £124,000. The new remuneration levels — in full below — are pegged against the dollar and effective from July 1.

The 12-office outfit confirmed to Legal Cheek that London trainee pay remains unchanged: £42,000 in year one, rising to £46,000 in year two. It provides an £8,000 grant for both the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC), too.

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The salary increase sees Milbank take top spot on our NQ pay league table and leapfrog fellow US players Akin Gump (£140,000), Kirkland & Ellis (£140,000) and Latham & Watkins (£124,000).

Don’t expect it to remain on its own at the top for long.

In 2016, New York-headquartered stalwart Cravath, Swaine & Moore bumped US junior lawyer pay from $160,000 (then £110,000) to $180,000 (then £124,000). Triggering a MoneyLaw pay war across the pond, a host of US firms quickly followed Cravath’s lead and chucked the same increases at their London lawyers.


Milbank’s new salary levels:

1st year — $190,000 (£143,000)
2nd year — $200,000 (£150,000)
3rd year — $220,000 (£165,000)
4th year — $250,000 (£188,000)
5th year — $275,000 (£207,000)
6th year — $295,000 (£222,000)
7th year — $315,000 (£237,000)
8th year — $330,000 (£248,000)

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161 Comments

Sploosh

Pay rise is effective in all offices according to the memo. But how do you know that the London office has changed its internal rate to peg salaries against the dollar, rather than keep the same rate?

(9)(6)

Sploosh

To clarify, I mean keep the same rate and raise salaries proportionally.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Mad tings.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Vote Corbyn to end this greed

A supertax on every £10k above the median wage

These lawyers should voluntarily give 50% of their loot away to sponsor criminal lawyers

(12)(73)

Anonymous

Weirdo

(35)(4)

Anonymous

Jez will end this greed

(2)(8)

Anonymous

Green with jealously?

You have to work very hard and be very cleaver to just get into a law degree and double so to get into the profession.
So good on anybody who can achieve this.
They also pay WAY more tax than you.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Cleaver?

(14)(0)

Anonymous

Very cleaver

(1)(0)

Anon

Sorry but trainee/legal salaries vary HUGELY across the board. I was offered 16K – below LIVING wage for a full-time position in a corporate law firm.

Everyone I know is earning less than 25K and they are all in year 1 or 2.

Maybe this is true for one company in one part of London? Maybe..I doubt it. No one I in law ever talks about/compares salary, no one every negotiates either…so who the hell knows?

(2)(1)

Delusional MC trainee

But…but…prestige?

(146)(5)

Anonymous

Any info on Dechert?

(3)(22)

Anonymous

Dechert to 200k USD.

(3)(4)

Anonymous

LOL

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Any info on White & Case? They work us like dogs here.

(16)(1)

Anonymous

Let the games begin!

(21)(0)

Anonymous

You can’t by bottles with prestige #esketitttttt

(26)(2)

Anonymous

You can’t buy bottles with prestige #esketittttttt

(17)(2)

May Supporter FTW Tory4life

God bless Theresa May for this!!

(5)(2)

NQ

It isn’t 143k. It’s converted with a fixed FX rate not a spot rate.

(21)(2)

Anonymous

So that’s the going rate for a soul. Interesting.

(33)(3)

Anonymous

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

(7)(0)

Anonymous

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

(2)(1)

DWF regional associate

Almost 100k a year more than me approaching 7pqe

(33)(1)

Silver Circle Chump

To be honest I know some people working there. I started to do the math, but stopped because I was becoming depressed. I’m about 5pqe and the gap is ridiculous.

(28)(1)

Anonymous

LOL – move firms

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Could be worse, could be Dechert

(17)(1)

Anonymous

You are massively underpaid if this is true.

(1)(2)

Dexter

Will Kirkland, Latham and the likes follow suit?

(22)(1)

Anonymous

Most definitely. I’m more curious about the likes of Weil, Skadden, Ropes and SullCrom, which all appear to be hovering around the £115-118k mark.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

SullCrom & Skadden are comfortably above the 118K mark, LegalCheek just hasn’t reported on it.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Skadden aren’t

(11)(0)

Big Dolla

Agreed. OP what’s your source?

(4)(0)

Greg

I’d think they’ll follow but keep the dollar at a fixed rate, so the jump will be to the low 120s.

(8)(0)

Big Dolla

Accurate. But makes me sad.

(2)(0)

Big Dolla

Big up!

Hopefully Latham, Davis Polk, and Skadden follow soon.

Also, I wish there was more data on firm bonuses, since thats where the real differences occur.

(19)(0)

Dwight

Think NQ bonus at US firms is generally at the £12-15k mark.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. They’re heavily reported in the US but information is almost non-existent in the UK.

(13)(0)

Giles

Is it not Cravath scale converted to £ at either fixed or spot rate depending on the firm?

(8)(0)

Big Dolla

Well, it’s supposed to be.

But some US firms are using a fixed rate so ancient that they de facto aren’t. A rate resulting in much lower GBP earnings.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Dechert doesn’t, BUT that’s ok – I’m moving to Kirkland as an NQ anyway. 😂

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Its a lower tier US firm

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Bit of a gulag

(0)(0)

Anonymous

oh so you are one of the two externals moving over to K&E as an NQ? should be quite quick to work out who you are!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Hi HR.

(6)(0)

Nigel

Money Law salaries must be close to investment banking salaries now!

(18)(2)

Anonymous

What is a “Money Law”

(48)(13)

Anonymous

If you have to ask…

(15)(30)

Commerzbank Graduate

What are investment banking salaries at the equivalent (3 years including LPC in)?

(2)(0)

Brett

That’s first year associate, so somewhere between 150k – 180k (including bonus) at the BBs.

(9)(0)

Big Dolla

Even at many non-BBs around that range.

Boutiques tend to compensate very well, to compensate for the ‘prestige’.

(4)(0)

Brett

Housemate works in IB, he says boutiques can pay more in some instances.

US law firms coming in at the lower end of IB salary, maybe equivalent to Barclays or Deutsche.

(6)(0)

Big Dolla

Agreed.

Boutique IB often pay more to compensate for prestige.

Akin to how MC assocs are compensated for their lower salaries in ‘pretijjj’ as well hahahahahaha.

Big Dolla

Nah, not really.

Don’t get me wrong, I think law is a better career given lower attrition rates.

But if you look at pure earnings, counting the fact that IBD employs straight out of undergrad with no LPC-like requirements, quite sure IBD is still the most well-compensated game in town (excepting those rare few who go buy side straight from undergrad).

(8)(6)

Anonymous

There can’t be much difference between associates salary at top end of law, and associate salary at top end of IB?

(5)(1)

Big Dolla

It’s hard to say conclusively, since IBD salaries are: 1) prone to larger and more volatile bonuses, itself differing based on individual performance; and 2) prone to more individual divergence the more senior you become, in a way rarely seen in law.

But from my own experience, IBD still pays better.

I think you have to take into account that far fewer make it as far though. Unlike in law, at the equivalent of 7PQE, those remaining in IBD are beast performers.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Fair – it probably is still better paid, but I think the gap has closed substantially with the recent salary increases implemented by th US firms. It’s also probably a more secure salary – higher base with less dependence on bonus

(6)(0)

Big Dolla

Agreed.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What about MBB management consulting?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Consultants are losers.

Anonymous

Don’t think they are quite at that level of salary – maybe closer to 100-100k at similar levels of seniority.

Anonymous

What about Dechert? Paying just £95k NQ is OUTRAGEOUSLY BAD.

(38)(8)

Anonymous

ROFL @ Dechert.

(140)(0)

Anonymous

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

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Outrageous..

(0)(0)

Anonymous

They don’t pay £95k….

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What do they pay then?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Get some perspective you spoilt brat

(0)(0)

Anonymous

One of these is not like the other….

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Im a 3PQE at a MC firm and I earn less than an NQ in Milbank – this is depressing and I hope they do something to address the discrepancy soon.

(40)(2)

Anonymous

What about Dechert?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

They surely have to!

(2)(0)

Big Dolla

They won’t.

At least as far as I can tell.

The MC seem to have given up competing with US firms on salary. They’re content competing with each other.

Additionally, MC firms just aren’t as competitive as US firms these days. For all the chat about being full-service, hurts the margins if those services include less ‘meaty’ sectors like infra, real eatate, employment, etc. Look at M&A league tables for the UK – US firms have significant presence despite their smaller size. I almost feel like MC and US firms are in different leagues now.

(26)(3)

Anonymous

MC won’t raise because they employ way too many people .. bonuses are also rolled into base and overall pay is mis-marketed.

No lawyer living in London should want to work for anything other than a US firm just to keep up with the cost of living let alone anything else.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Milan doesn’t have an annual intake of 80 plus. It has an intake of 4-5. There is no way the MC can compete.

(1)(0)

Garth

What is the average age of an NQ these days? 26? 27?

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Higher than back in the day.

Most NQs in the noughties were 24/25

(3)(0)

MC NQ

27 seems to be average in my intake

(12)(0)

Anonymous

What about the US firms hovering around the 95-105 mark?

(6)(0)

Gary Johnson

Forget about it, lost cause.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Another point to keep in mind in the IBD v Law debate: the more senior you go, the more your salary is paid in the form of options (usually 5 year), etc, which are locked up with good/bad leaver clauses. So you may be getting ‘wealth’ worth 200k+, but half of that won’t be coming to you at the end of the month. You’ll have to be in for the long haul and make sure that you don’t get kicked out for bad performance.

Also, IB attrition rates are atrocious. Remember seeing something like 80% attrition for the Analyst-Associate step at BBs. Will try to find source.

The point is that IBD isn’t the massive money-earner that everyone thinks it is. It’s also worth that you’ll be working near-IB hours at the sort of US firms that pay over 100k (12 hour days + the occasional weekend + whatever else is needed depending on the case)

(4)(0)

Keith

Do you have concrete (ish) info on IBD associate salaries, in terms of US law firm associate versus BB associate? From what I know, there can’t be much more than 10% between them for total comp.

I think this is the fairest comparison given the 2 year training contract and 1 year LPC equates to the 3 year analyst stint.

(2)(0)

Big Dolla

https://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/277526/banking-salaries-and-bonuses

Here’s something a Google search revealed.

Look at assoc 1 salaries, since, as you say, thats the appropriate comparison with nq.

Not excessively more than US law firms, but more than 10% difference.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

US law firms higher than Barclays and MS, assuming US firms pay 12-15 bonus?

(0)(0)

Big Dolla

Not sure if the 12-15k bonus is a good estimate of average US law firm bonuses.

But yes, assuming that, companies like Kirkland and Akin pay more than MS and Barclays. Not sure if Milbank will, since the exchange rate position they’ll adopt isn’t clear.

Interesting that MS has such lower comp relative to peers. Not wierd at all for Barclays since it’s shit-tier IBD.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

You’ll be working 12+ hour days even at sweatshops like CMS or Pinsents. Except that unlike the top US firms or banks you won’t come even close to getting top whack in pay.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

Why not qualify into a support team in a top tier US firm (employment, outsourcing, real estate) – same wedge better hours.

(3)(0)

Trainee in Exeter

Is the demand for these jobs insane or do the hours scare people off?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

?

Both.

(4)(0)

Big Dolla

I wish there was more data on the profitability of US firms per office.

I can’t imagine that London offices are anywhere near as profitable as the hubs stateside.

There must be some US partners or associates fuming at the equal pay rises for London lawyers hahaha.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

But the size of London is much smaller so the point about London offices is quality not same quantity in terms of bringing in new business. Most new clients get recruited in the US and then their European business needs can be done primarily via London. London offices are lean, low leverage and about contribution to overall strategy first and foremost. The model works for US firms which on average are most profitable in the world.

(1)(0)

Big Dolla

Absolutely agree on all points.

But given that the London offices play primarily secondary roles to the US offices, as you impliedly seem to agree with, not sure if applying the same Cravath scale makes sense.

And even the clients which are UK-sourced at the US firms proves my point, since they’ll likely have lower margins.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I’m a junior at a US firm and your posts are ignorant student ramblings trying to sound more informed than you are. Data does exist for US firms in London, yes it is often published, yes they are very profitable, and nothing you have said above or elsewhere (usually) is correct.

(11)(2)

Big Dolla

Fair.

Mind sharing the profitability figures for London offices? I’m genuinely curious.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Any Kirkland / Freshfields associates care to comment?

(3)(1)

rod

how many hours a week are they asking for this?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Same you’ll have to put it at any top US firm or magic circle firm, even many silver circle on many occasion if you’re aiming for partner track. Solicitors have a hard job at any big firm so there’s no reason for the gap to magic circle in terms of pure weekly output. One can claim the magic circle compensate with training history for the UK market but that is debateable.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

A lot mate. A lot.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Probably 1800 a year on paper if they do have a posted target somewhere. In reality, if you bill anything less than 2000 (docketed, not time recorded) you’ll be pigeonholed. Again, this is exactly the same as any of the MC firms.

Keep in mind most of the New York HQs of these firms won’t even start considering a bonus until you reach 2000 hours or more. All About Law has several articles over the years about that.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Brutal

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Cleary please follow the NQ increases and LPC grant trend too

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Dechert must raise NQ salary NOW

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Gulag, stay away

(0)(0)

King Arthur

I made 2000 in 10 minutes which increased to 3,300 in 2 hours. Next era, leaving you all in the Stone Age! 🙂

(2)(0)

Anonymous

K&E and AG don’t pay GBP 140k and haven’t done for some time. LC need to update their figures. It’s a floating exchange rate so currently around £134k. In fact, they are now third ranking in pay terms with Milbank 1st (£143k), Schulte 2nd (£138k).

(12)(1)

Anonymous

MC firms, Hogan Lovells and HSF have to try and respond surely ffs. One of them needs to just break the bank and raise to 95 k

(6)(0)

Anonymous

No chance, too many mouths to feed.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Anyone know what Goodwin Proctor NQ salary is?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I think it’s £110k

(0)(0)

Anonymous

No mention of Goodwin on LC firms most list.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

115k!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Where did you find that figure, I can’t find it anywhere.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Recruiter

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Fuck me, what a depressing comments section.

Does the pointlessness and tedium of work at these firms, and the absurd hours required, not make any of you think that this way of making a living is to be avoided, whatever the salary?

(10)(4)

Anonymous

Jealous much?

(5)(5)

Anonymous

No.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

This has happened before – they can’t break the MC

It’s only temporary

When the US partners pull the plug, all these people will be out of work

ENJOY IT WHILST IT LASTS SUCKERS

(0)(5)

Anonymous

Only temporary?

That’s why all the major US firms have higher profitability, revenues per lawyer and growth than any of the MC firms.

MC is dead, US firms have and will continue to beat them.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Any idea on what’s the NQ pay at Dorsey & Whitney?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Vinson & Elkins seems to have gone under the radar – £120k At nq

(1)(0)

Anonymous

This was known for quite some time – it’s all on Chambers Student.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Would be helpful if LC added more firms to their most list.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

That would take research and effort though.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

What about Dorsey & Witney, McGuire Woods, McDermott, Wilmer Hale, Pillsbury, Orrick etc.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Orrick pays, to the best of my knowledge, around the £85-90k mark, McDermott is now on around £95k-100k. WilmerHale is far beyond £100k, around £125k or so.

No idea about Dorsey or McGuire, but likely around £75k.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What about Proskauer Rose?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

US rate, circa £120k.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I heard 95 at nq

(0)(0)

Anonymous

2 years ago maybe

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Matched Millbank today!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Proskhauer 103k NQ

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Random number, surprisingly low.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

also wrong

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Not wrong when they were recruiting for an NQ role a few months ago so unless they have recently raised…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It’s never been £103k. Probably a recruiter guessing?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

3 different recruiters quoted 103 at various times. Would be a random number to guess at.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I am a recruiter. They pay £115k.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Recent increase

Anonymous

And before that it was £102.5k. it’s never been £103k. The increase was over 6 months ago.

Anonymous

Right £500 difference…

And given firms tend to change salaries once a year if that, 6 months is fairly recent

Anonymous

Jenner & Block?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Quinn Emmanuel? Bois Schiller? Cravath Swaine? Paul Weiss?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Willkie Farr & Gallagher? Winston & Strawn?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Willkie 120

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Source?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

recruiter

(0)(0)

....

W&S 90K NQ
Source Recruiter

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Paul Weiss is THICC AF.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Crowell & Moring? Faegre Baker Daniels? Fried Frank?

(0)(0)

Intel Hoarder

Fried Frank!!! ROFL. Who cares about that random shop. London Managing Partner left recently and I’ve heard it’s going down the plughole. FAST…

(2)(1)

Anonymous

What are you on about?

(0)(2)

Intel Hoarder

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

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What did he say?

(0)(0)

Intel Hoard (or am I? mwhahahahaha)

I said that ex-employees refer to it as Fried ‘Frank’ (replace ‘Fr’ with ‘W’) and generally say its London office has a short lifespan and is going down the pan.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Has a look at Chambers and no info on Goodwin NQ salary. Why do some firms not disclose salaries?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Doesn’t Goodwin do some weird thing like 95 for the first 6 months then up to like 110…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Winston & Strawn??

(0)(0)

Anonymous

£100k last time I checked.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Legalcheek? Oh wait, you don’t pay lol

(2)(0)

Dow

LLL

(0)(0)

Anonymous

lad

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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