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Trainee solicitor pay reaches £60,000 for the first time ever

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Davis Polk’s unqualified rookies now earn more than some City associates

Trainee solicitor pay has reached £60,000 for the first time ever, thanks to a fresh round of rises by US giant Davis Polk.

The New York-headquartered firm has upped year two rookie pay to a market-topping £60,000, an uplift of £5,000 or 9%. Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows that today’s boost puts the outfit’s second-year trainees £5,000 ahead of their counterparts at Kirkland & Ellis and Sullivan & Cromwell (£55,000), and £6,000 over and above those learning the ins and outs of lawyer life over at Jones Day.

Today’s big money move means a second-year trainee at Davis Polk is now on an earning par with a host of newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers at UK-headquartered firms. Turning again to our Most List, Davis Polk’s soon-to-be associates are now pulling in the same levels of cash as NQs at DAC Beachcroft, Irwin Mitchell, Withers, and Womble Bond Dickinson, and earning more than and those at DWF (£59,000), Hill Dickinson (£58,000) and Howard Kennedy (£58,000).

The 2018 Firms Most List

Year one rookie pay is also up. Davis Polk’s 20-somethings now earn £55,000, an uplift of £5,000 or 10%. This sees them pull away from their peers at US rivals Kirkland & Ellis and Sullivan & Cromwell (£50,000), and put further distance between themselves and those in year one of their training contracts over at Washington player Akin Gump (£48,000).

However, aspiring City lawyers take note. The firm — which sends its London rookies to its New York office for up to six months during their training — recruits just four trainees annually. Upon qualification, Davis Polks freshly minted lawyers see their salaries double overnight to £120,000.

Davis Polk’s trainee uplifts come on the back of another eventful summer for City lawyer pay. Earlier this summer, US outfit Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy upped London NQ pay to a market-busting £143,000. Not to be outdone, a host of US firms matched including Akin Gump, Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins.

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93 Comments

Anonymous

Hefty

(12)(1)

Anonymous

Brothers! Sisters!

A tax on this greed!

A windfall tax for NHS salaries and teachers pensions!

VOTE CORBYN

FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW

(5)(80)

STALLONE

Stfu dickwad.

(4)(0)

Stallone’s bruh

Cool story, bruh

(0)(0)

Dr Frankenstein

can spend on better quality coke!

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Outrageous

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Davis Polk pays more than £120k at NQ, Tommy.

(12)(4)

Second Year Trainee

Jones Day pay second year trainees £57k, not £54k.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Davis Polk NQ figures also wrong

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Chambers Student says £117.5k and DP’s grad page says £120k? What is it?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

£140k.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

It’s not 140, it’s about 125-130k. They don’t convert the 190 dollars at a spot rate

Anonymous

It’s 120. The don’t convert $190k for their English law NQs.

JD “Daddy” Equity Partner

Do you have your “second year training pants” on?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

‘MONEYLAW’

(4)(0)

JD Partner

yes but at JD we give our trainees other benefits to swallow

(21)(1)

JD Partner

shouldn’t you be working?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

********VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE**********

Tomhas spelt Akin Gump ‘Atkin Gump’

(9)(4)

Anonymous

Dechart

(13)(0)

🍆💦

Akin Pump

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Pelvis Bulk

(7)(0)

JD Equity Partner

That’s what my Trainees call me.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

DeCHAT more like

Anonymous

Dickfart

Anonymous

RUN FORREST RUN!

DWF slave

What is even the point in trying, when all I get is £62k as 1PQE.

(19)(1)

Anonymous

Eversheds Sutherland now on £72 for NQs.

(5)(0)

US 2PQE

LMAO

(3)(3)

Anonymous

source?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Website, look it up.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What’s the NQ pay at Bracewell these days?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Similarly, is there any update on Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman? I’ve a lifelong ambition to be there.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I dream of moving to Katten Muchin Rosenman. Any idea on the rates there?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Wong, Doodee, Crandell and Weiner

(3)(0)

Anonymous

70ish at NQ.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Anyone here heard re Vedder Price? Been trying to find their NQ rate online.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Any info on NQ rates at Constantine Cannon? Desperate to make a move there.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Is Slug and May going to increase?

(9)(2)

Anonymous

They’ve got no reason to go beyond £80/82,000.

(4)(1)

citylee

It’s the way they keep their PEP terrifically high e.g. by paying their associates a pittance. Still less than most of the elite US firms though.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Rumour has it that increases in prestige are inbound.

(33)(0)

Anonymous

MoneyLaw is temporary – prestige is forever.

(5)(14)

Anonymous

Slug and Lettuce is £6.50 per hour. All Bar One is £6.75.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t see why they’ve bothered to be honest, are they really struggling to get good trainees because of salary? Are the brightest and best potential trainees going to choose Davis Polk because they will earn a few thousand more as a trainee (but then less than the likes of K&E on qualification) ? They’d look a more attractive prospect by paying top-whack to qualified associates.

(7)(10)

Anonymous

It’s just the really weak pound coming into play weak exchange rates

(1)(1)

Anonymous

YES!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

– Trainees are profitable and bill hundreds of thousands each. In US shops they bill 2000 odd hours a year.

– In US shops trainees are treated like very junior associates and operate at a higher level than most other firms.

– US firms can easily afford it without batting an eyelid.

– Trainee salary hasn’t kept in line with inflation and most firms are similar more or less to what they paid 10 years ago.

– The MC, far less profitable firms, are now paying 47-52k, in addition to the factors above, and the US firms should therefore pay more.

– Attract better talent. No one should think about taking an MC TC because the salaries are about the same and they can just move over on qualification, US firms can incentive from day 1.

– Expanding trainee intakes. In lieu of the above point.

– It’s not a graduate salary as some pretend. Most have at least 2 years experience since university given the TC start date delay and all have a de facto masters in the LPC. They are also not paid during the wait process, they become bound to start the contract and burden themselves with paying back a lot of money if they don’t start, and the grant provided is a fraction of what they would have received had they been working instead.

These are some of the reasons.

(11)(27)

Anonymous

Not sure all of this is true. Trainee salaries have changed a fair amount in the last 10 years.

Trainees at US firms are billed out, but so much is written off, and increasingly so, that trainees are becoming less valuable than they used to be. It does change at associate level though as clients are willing to pay for work carried out by qualified solicitors.

Not sure US firms attract ‘better talent’. Trainees at all good firms are pretty much capable of doing the tasks required of trainees. US firm trainees will probably get more responsibility, but they are not objectively ‘better’.

‘MC now pay 47-52k’ is not a reason for US firms to increase salaries. Until they feel they are losing out on candidates they’ll pay what the market dictates.

Davis Polk take on around 4 trainees per year. Not sure all US firms need to follow suit.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

A confident reply, but not one which matches my experience in a US firm as a trainee.

Realisation i.e. recovery for trainees is similar to junior associates. Realisation cannot be taken out of context to other factors like leverage. Basically realisation has more to do with sums quoted and every hour billed is still recovered, just that the firm may discount by x%. I know the legal press reported that some do not want to pay for trainees, but all of our clients do and when working on US matters we are billed as junior associates. We are also enabling associates and partners to bill more through some of our work. It’s really quite complicated and not easy to explain, but to say trainees don’t bring in the hundreds of thousands relative to their salaries is wrong.

Regarding talent, US firms want the best. Whether you think they are taking the best or not is up to you, but they want to take the best and want the best to be motivated to co.e to them. There are downsides; at some or most US firms you have to know you want a transactional seat as advisory is easier to qualify into in a UK firm. Davis Polk didn’t start its TC that long ago and my understanding was or is almost entirely transactional. There have to be incentives to want to do that over an MC training contract because smart people realise they’re going to be doing this for a long time.

(4)(5)

loljkm8

The level of your written English is very telling; you’ve not, nor ever will be, a US trainee/associate.

Come out to the regions, we’d be mildly happy to have you.

Anonymous

I assure you that I am. My writing above is decent bar the obvious typos from a phone’s autocorrect. I’m here only to see who has upped. No one outside law without internal training would know about some of the concepts mentioned above. You won’t even properly understand what leverage (an absolutely fundamental concept) means in the context of billing because I didn’t properly explain it. But if you, and others, know so much, I’d be interested to see what you guess.

Anonymous

No reason to doubt this person’s claim to be a US trainee imo. You guys massively over rate (most) US firms. What makes you think their trainees and associates would be better at writing than elsewhere? American firms pay a bit more, that’s it. There are lots of bang average minds (as at most firms) and laterals are recruited from all over the place (as at most firms). The spiel about wanting the ‘best’ is no more true at Davis Polk than at any very good city firm. They pay as much as they do because virtually nobody with alternative options would bother to work for them if they didn’t, bearing in mind the savage hours, lack of colleagues and support staff, slim long-term career development prospects and limited profile of the firm in Europe.

US firm Future Trainee

Disagree with the last point, whilst a lot of people may be career changers or former paralegals. A lot of my future intake like me got a TC whilst at uni, meaning most of us either will travel for a year and do LPC, or are doing the GDL and LPC. For a lot of us, whether at US shops or Irwin Mitchel, a training contract would be our first “proper job” outside of working at Tesco on Sunday evenings.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Then you have slightly misunderstood. Taking the LPC after university is a de facto professional masters and makes you a postgrad, not a grad. Taking a dedicated professional course after university adds value and adds to a starting salary in most sectors.

A large minority are career changers, I wasn’t specifically addressing them. The majority who are straight from university have usually worked quite a lot before and continue to work after university. Most have at least 6 months to a year to a year and a half of free time outside of the LPC, and most people do not rely entirely on their parents to get them through it. In my intake, I think we all did something. Some paralegalled. One or two did a graduate job. Others couldnt or didn’t want to because of the shortened period and the fact they would leave, so worked for charities or bar work to save up for travelling. Often whilst living at home and those who borrowed ftom their parents, most are repaying as a loan in their TCs. The idea of someone getting a TC in their final year without much work experience and then sitting on their arse for a year with 15k odd free reimbursement from mummy and daddy after university is a big exception to the rule. There are other negatives described above as well.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Fair enough about the LPC making you a postgrad. But I think you misunderstand, a lot of us, myself included don’t work because the firm covers both the LPC and GDL with a sizeable living grant. Parents who will be supporting the students will be offering about 3 – 6k in total (covering living costs above the grant) as a loan or students will pay that from earnings in places like Tesco.
Anyone who has a TC from the 2nd or third year of uni has work experience at law firms etc but they are likely to (unless they are a mature student) never have worked in relevant role outside of a vac scheme or internship.

Anonymous

The last part that they aren’t paid for the 2 years before starting TC is bullshit. They can easily get paralegal positions without a fucking LPC and can even get one after doing a fucking LPC.

The very fact they secured the position opens up other avenues so while they aren’t paid for the first 2 years after securing. They actually spend the first year waiting doing the final year of university, and then the second doin para jobs. Cunt

(2)(2)

Anonymous

They are not paid by the firm during the wait process other than e.g. living costs during a 6 month LPC. That does not cover what can be a 2 year wait period. So yes, people do work in the interim e.g. as paralegals. Which is precisely my point – that the starting salary for a trainee is not for a straight out of university graduate, but an experienced hire. Suggest you mind your manners accordingly.

(2)(0)

Big Dolla

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I think all your comments have been on point. And that all those who replied to you and attempted to correct you have clearly missed the points you’re trying to make.

I just find it funny you seem to expect reasoned discussion here. This is Legal Cheek.

Anonymous

You yourself are a charlatan fresher who regularly embarrassed himself with ill-informed comments. There are no dollars in your bank account, just a dwindling student loan so kindly stfu.

Anonymous

‘Double to 120,000 overnight’ lol just wait for the taxman or taxwoman to fuck it all up.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Will Clyde & Co raise NQ pay?

(3)(3)

Anonymous

na they skint

(5)(0)

Anonymous

It’s a top top firm and rumour has it they’ve got a salary game changer prepared: NQ rates to jump from £63k to £70k!!!

(5)(5)

Anonymous

Oh my god.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Clyde & Co are up to 40k now.

(2)(3)

US NQ

What a WEDGE.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

This is the stuff wet dreams are made of. God bless the US of A!!!

(15)(0)

Anonymous

What’s the probability that these increases are being fuelled by the trolling in Legal Cheek’s comment section?

(30)(0)

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