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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)(74)

Anonymous

Weirdo

(37)(4)

Anonymous

Jez will end this greed

(2)(9)

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.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Cleaver?

(15)(0)

Anonymous

Very cleaver

(2)(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?

(147)(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.

(17)(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

(34)(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?

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. 😂

Anonymous

Its a lower tier US firm

Anonymous

Bit of a gulag

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!

Anonymous

Hi HR.

Nigel

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

(18)(2)

Anonymous

What is a “Money Law”

(49)(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.

Big Dolla

Even at many non-BBs around that range.

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

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.

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

Big Dolla

Agreed.

Anonymous

What about MBB management consulting?

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.

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)

Comments are closed.

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