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Allen & Overy ups NQ solicitor package to £100,000 as City pay war intensifies

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Six-figure sum includes sign-on bonus

Credit: Rich Kids of Instagram (Instagram)

Allen & Overy (A&O) has followed fellow magic circle outfits Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance and Freshfields in upping its total newly qualified (NQ) solicitor pay package to £100,000.

Newbie associates at A&O’s One Bishops Square base will start lawyer life on a “minimum total cash” of £100,000, comprised of salary and a “sign-on bonus”. Like with CC and Slaughters, A&O’s headline NQ pay figure is a combination of basic salary and bonus. Freshies’ lot, however, out-earn their magic circle counterparts with discretionary bonuses on top of their staggering six-figure salaries.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

A first-year A&O trainee earns £45,000, rising to £50,000 in their second year. Today’s money move means juniors will be pulling in almost double their salaries straight out of their training contracts. The firm’s previous NQ salary was £83,000.

The pay rise comes amid speculation of a transatlantic tie-up between A&O and US firm O’Melveny & Myers to create one of the world’s largest law firms with combined revenues totalling £2 billion ($2.8 billion).

It remains to be seen whether the final firm of the elite fivesome plans to follow suit. Linklaters has not yet upped NQ remuneration in 2019 which currently stands at £83,000.

Check out the Legal Cheek Firms Most List for full benchmarking of law firm pay.

98 Comments

Anonymous

Still well below equivalent US firms for same hours though.

Anonymous

That’s a common misconception but you really don’t work the same hours at US as at MC though. US firms have 200 extra billable hours targets per year. They also don’t have the same support structure so ON TOP of the extra billable hours you spend further hours doing admin/grunt work.

Milbank Trainee

This is not true at all. I know a lot of trainees at MC firms doing more hours and all nighters compared to US firms.

Anonymous

Yeah this is BS. There are US firms with 1800 billable targets. Also a lot easier to bill in US firms as you don’t have to do any non-billable rubbish so basically all your time is billable. Lack of support is only relevant for small satellite US offices – the fully established US firms have the same PSL type facilities as English firms these days.

Anonymous

Agreed. Working for an English shop turned into a proper mugs game, gtfo whenever you can

Anonymous

Having gone from US to SC it’s a different world. I have far more in the way of support services than I used to (proper secretarial support, PSL, proper BD/marketing teams, banks of precedents, solid training programmes etc) and my working days are probably 4 hours shorter on average (11pm finish reduced to roughly 7pm). I work maybe 2 weekends a year vs about half previously.

It probably depends on your department (I’m in Disputes), but I’ve found the difference quite substantial. The salary is obviously lower, but it depends what you want. Now I’m a bit older I value having a couple of hours to chill in the evening more than I used to.

Anonymous

Which US firm were you at, out of interest?

Anonymous

Sounds like you were just at a smaller less developed US firm. There is no real difference is any of things you’ve listed as between U.K. firms and the established US firms.

Anonymous

Not so much.

First, don’t forget that income tax on earning a between 100k and 123k is effectively 60% due to the personal allowance tapering to zero. So in net terms there is not as great a gap as light appear on the gross numbers.

Secondly, “back in the day” when I was qualifying, white shoe US firms were paying NQs anywhere between 90k and 98k, which stood at close to a 50% premium over MC/SC firms paying low to mid 60s. Now, that premium in percentage terms is perhaps closer to 20-40% and in net pay terms less than this due to the reason set out above.

The NQ figures are actually a distraction though – the real premiums are at the mid to senior associate end. Someone with 6PQE at a US firm might expect close to 300k all in with a base salary in the low 200s, an end of year bonus of perhaps 60-70k on the Cravath scale and – in a year like 2018 – a modest summer bonus of 15-20k. Which is probably close to double a UK firm pay packet.

Rupert; a US Firm associate

🐓 🐔 🍴

Anonymous

Hi Rupert!

💩

Hi Poopert!

Anonymous

All firms should be obligated to advertise base salaries excluding any bonuses. The current trend of throwing in every bonus under the sun is very misleading.

Mug

Doesn’t matter as this recent wave of raises left the UK midmarket in the dust. Pinsents and SPB upped NQ dolla to only to get mega cucked by these shops that casually reached almost £100k, including a firm that will work you comparably as hard like HogLove. What will be interesting is to see if firms like DLA, Simmons and CMS will try to follow or just throw in the towel.

Truth Siren

SPB is a right old swivel eyed crowd… particularly the real estate team. AVOID.

Anonymous

Care to elaborate?

Anonymous

Mostly agree with Truth Siren’s comment, but SPB’s swivel eyed types are definitely not in the Property team

Anonymous

*obliged

AO associate

100k is a salary base + fixed sign on bonus. The discretionary bonus will be on top of it. Given the AO bonus structure that means most of the NQ will be on 105-115k (including bonuses). Not US lvl for sure but still better than CC.

Anonymous

Does it mean that the difference between 1pqe and nq isnt huge then as 1pqe presumably doesnt get a sign on bonus? So 1pqe base is just over 100k same as CC?

Kirkland NQ

Hey who took that photo and where did you find all those £20s – I thought I felt something fall out of my pocket the other day.

Running low on bantz

2/10 this time mate, try harder.

Big Diggs Higgs

All peanuts compared to what I earn baby #10mdollarballer

Kirkland NQ

I only remember because I hadn’t realised that they did notes that small. I was going to show the lads down the Lambo owners club.

Anonymous

Wow. 0 for 2.

Lack of talent makes me question if you’ve even started uni yet. A-level banter.

LinkMaster

Im definitely expecting Linklaters to then top with 105,000

LL 3PQE

One can dream

LL 2 PQE

I smell a screwing in the air…

CGSH - Training wheels

Have you all noticed how certain firms link Cleary Gottlieb does not appear in these kind of stupid posts often, is because when we get given a pay rise, we dont go publishing it to the world. The amount we get paid is not the same amount we publish on the sights (wink emoji)

Anonymous

Nice flex but isn’t Cleary’s London office in full meltdown mode? (1/4 of the office quitting, unproductive partners, psycho senior associates, fired paralegals)

Anonymous

Unless you actually work there, how does one even come by this information?? Full meltdown? I thought Cleary was one of the most prestigious / highest performing firms around.

Anonymous

Cleary associate posting this at 2:13am whilst the office is in full meltdown ^^^

Anonymous

Clearly (hah!) Im not a Cleary associate since I said “I THOUGHT Cleary was one of the most prestigious / highest performing firms around.”

I’m genuinely curious as to how people on LC always seem to have this deep inside info on firms unless they actually work there, or have a close friend who does. Is the LC comment section really that chock full of pan-London solicitors with industry connections and a law firm-savvy 6th sense? Or could it be that half of them are actually 2nd years reading history at Lancaster regurgitating rumours their cadre from the LLB had been circulating round campus?

Anonymous

Heh did you get retained mate?

Anonymous

Woooo hoooo

Anonymous

Will travers Smith follow?

Anonymous

I would say magic circle and us firms work the same hours having worked at both.

Anonymous

Let’s all buy Porsche’s 💰

Anonymous

Lmao with £100k p.a. before tax? You’ll have to go second hand and circa 2005 vintage. 😂

Anonymous

The extra cash in your pocket jumping from 83 to 100 would be more than enough per month to lease a Cayman / Boxster.

Turbo boi

Go 911 GTS or fuck off you weak Cayman cuck

CMS Slave

A Porsche? I’m being bankrupted by my fiat cinquecento lease right now.

Anonymous

Meanwhile there are some NQ salaries in London in mid 40s

Anonymous

Name and shame. Not even West End firms pay less than £60k NQ these days.

Anonyman

All firms in the City/West End that are recognised by the Legal 500 pay in excess of £50k now.

Anon

They really don’t.

Anonyman

Who doesn’t pay north of £50k now? My guess would be maybe BLM?

Anonymous

Pittmans and Vardags also come to mind

Anonymous

BLM, high street firms, boutique firms etc

Anonymous

Were there raises for 1-4pqes ?

Anonymous

yes

Anonymous

What are the bands like?

Anonymous

Like 8-10k higher than previously.

Freshfields final seat trainee

Not enough from A&O…I’m moving to Kirkland or Simpson Thacher

Anonymous

You’re not a Freshfields trainee. Everyone’s trying to be kept on.

Anonymous

What is Simpson’s NQ salary? In £ rather than $?

Anonymous

About 130ish

Weil NQ

Simpson Thacher is higher than Kirkland. It’s £149,500 NQ salary excluding a bonus. I had the recruiter send me details for an M&A Associate (NQ) they were looking for.

Anonymous

Girthy

Anonymous

F*cking hell, not bad. But they only take at NQ level, no TC positions, right?

MC Trainee

I was told by a recruiter that STB’s NQ salary is 123k plus 15k bonus,

Legal Rec

This is true, £123/£124k. That other muppet was sent no such thing by a recruiter.

Anonymous

Why Simpson Thacher? Don’t think they pay the same rates as K&E…

US 2PQE

They do. Full Cravath scale (base+bonus) in London £ pegged $.

Anonymous

No they don’t – it’s about £127.5 NQ

STB NQ (Funds)

I work at Simpson Thacher and it’s £145,000 + 20% bonus.

Anonymous

I don’t see how that’s viable – Cravath scale bonuses are $15k and you’re saying they pay c.£30k in the UK (a traditionally lower-paying market where lawyers don’t have $250k of law school debt and the Manhattan property market to contend with).

Hate to be a hater but I smell bs.

Anonymous

STB do not pay a spot rate on NQ. That is not correct. It’s in the 127-135 region.

STB NQ (Funds)

Funds team pay £145,000 to NQs. The first year associate/NQ starting salary is higher if you have a JD as you are paid an additional allowance.

Linklaters NQ

Linklaters soon to announce £105,000 base + annual bonus.

Anonymous

Brothers! Sisters!

Jeremy Corbyn will tax this greed at 75%!!!

A windfall tax on City greed!

This needs appropriating for teachers and nurses and legal aid solicitors!

For the many,not the few

VOTE LABOUR

Anon. AUSSIE

Mate I’ve just moved over from Australia (which has one of the highest minimum wages in the developed world) and the tax rates in the UK are farrrrrrrrked as soon as you click over £100k.

Anonymous

@ anon at 12.04, but they bill in 15 minute units at least as opposed to 6 ………

CMS Lev Fin

Meanwhile I am 5pqe and still sat on less than 100.

Anonymous

No worries. Soon you will merge with Greenberg Glusker and the People’s Liberation Army and earn twice that sum.

Shed NQ

The City pay war must’ve completely evaded my firm, as I’m expected to plug away like a retard for £72k

LL 2 PQE

To be fair, you have excellent biscuits. You just need to live on them now.

Anonymous

CMS top whakkk aboutta raize to 85k den y’all gon be TOAST

Anonymous

So less of a paycut for the O’Melveny lot

Anonymous

No pay cut as far as I’m aware. OMM pay around £95k NQ

Anonymous

I know a trainee within recent years qualified onto 110 there, excluding bonus, so 95 is old.

Anonymous

Interesting.

Silvercircler

Okay so which US firm gonna give me the most bucks with the least time? At a decent Silver Circle atm but hey-ho time to cash in me thinks.

Anonymous

With such an attitude you won’t last a year to collect your first bonus you two-bit pinhead

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