Slaughter and May bumps associate pay by up to 8%

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Rises follow last summer’s improved six-figure packages for NQs

Slaughter and May has increased the salaries of its junior lawyers and dished out bonuses.

The fresh boosts follow the magic circle player’s decision to up total newly qualified (NQ) solicitor packages to £100,000 amid a fierce summer pay war among the City’s elite outfits.

Slaughters confirmed associates with two-and-half years post-qualification experience (PQE) or more will receive a pay increase of between 2.2% and 8.2% with effect from this month. This, the firm says, “ensures that we remain competitive in the marketplace at all levels of associate remuneration”.

In addition to the rises, associates received a bonus in December for the year 2019 ranging from 8.7% to 14.6%.

A spokesperson for the firm said:

“We continue to value and recognise everyone’s contribution by rewarding our associates in a way that reflects the partnership’s flat lockstep structure and by not imposing billing or time recording targets.”

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Responding to similar moves by its magic circle rivals, Slaughters upped its NQ base rates last summer from £83,000 to £92,000 — which with a bonus of around 8.5% takes total earnings to just over £100,000.

Legal Cheek understands there have been grumbles in the market among some associates after the sharp NQ pay rises meant they were earning similar levels of cash as their less experienced colleagues.

Drawing comparisons in terms of pay between the City’s top firms is becoming increasingly more difficult, with many opting to combine base rates and bonuses.

Both Linklaters and Clifford Chance offer packages of £100,000 including discretionary performance bonuses, while Allen & Overy dishes out a “minimum total cash” of £100,000, comprised of salary and a “sign-on bonus”. Freshfields, however, offers a discretionary bonus on top of its £100,000 base rate.

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Read on ROF that NQs of 2-3 got a raise of only about £2-3k. Is this true?

Would be nice to hear from someone with experience at the firm about what kind of pay more senior associates can expect!

My guess is that someone very close to partnership level (so NQ 8+) would be making around £250k (bonus included)?



Lol are you serious. Do you know the legal industry at all?



What do you mean? Are my figures off?

If an NQ is making £100k, wouldn’t it be normal for a senior associate (just below partnership) to make approx 2-3x that amount?

It’s normal in some other firms.



Name these other firms. Bet you can’t.


Genuinely Curious

So how much do senior associates earn, on average, compared to an NQ? Say at a top US firm where an NQ starts at 130 – 150k (bonus included)?


in most US firms, a very senior associate typically makes 2-2.5x what a NQ does.

This is also very common for commercial continental firms.

If I’m not mistaken, a very senior associate at a MC firm should be banking something in the region of £200-220 (depending on the bonus) so technically close to a 2.5x multiplier.


There is no such thing as “just below partnership”. Particularly at Slaughters. Not so much a gulf as the Mariana Trench.


Kirkland NQ

Lol I would be insulted if I was offered that much at associate level. Working at a non US firm is like living in poverty isn’t it?



Correct. Stick to firms like Kirkland or FRIED FRANK to survive in London.


Magnus Magnusson

What’s a FRIED FRANK? And does it come with a side salad?



NQ 8 + will be on nowhere near 250k. Probably closer to 140 – 160.



Sorry but how is this possible? An increase of only 40k over the course of 10 years?



What planet you on son??


Ex SM associate

You’d expect to spend 7-8 years at Slaughters as an associate before making partner. So 60K increase to base as you move though the scales is broadly accurate.



Yeah but what about real firms mate?


You Smut.

If by real you mean firms that would hire you, J&S solicitors on the highstreet would probably pay in 0.5% increases every 3 years, up from the £30,000 you start on.


Gotcha. Cheers bud.

Not the original poster

Shed any more light on OP’s question i.e. salary for senior associate at decent City firm?


Female assoc

Any1 know what’s the salary at Pinsents for senior assocs? They offered me a role in London , Im relocating from the regions as 4pqe so am curious . thx


PM insider

You won’t be an SA at Pinsents at 4yr pqe. Associate at best.


Female assoc

Stfu u choad, ill b whatever i want to b . Unlike u im on partner ship track



PM don’t do shipping.


You are looking at £5-7k increase for the first 4 PQEs.

So since the salary starts at 75? Best guess is a Pinsent 4PQE banks approx £100k (exclusive of any bonus they pay).



Agree with others here – it would be helpful if legal cheek could find out more on senior associate salaries at magic circle.

I’ve heard 8PQE corporate associate at CC is circa £180 – 200k ?



Correct, senior (or managing associates equivalents) at MC firms usually make anything between £180-220k. There is some discrepancy depending on the department they work in and this is usually done by way of a bonus.


I spoke to a recruiter the other day who said a 7 pqe at Bakers is £125k



They’re lying to you bud.



Bakers NQ should be in the region of £100k, so very unlikely 7PQE is 125, more like £180-200



SandM scale is basically 92k at NQ and rises of about 7k a year from there, sometimes a bit higher and sometimes a bit lower. Bonus on top of that. So a 140k-ish figure for 7Q there is correct.

I have heard much higher numbers at that level from some mid-market firms, fwiw. But that’s generally at places that don’t make people partner until 12-14Q and so need to make senior assoc/counsel an appealing career in and of itself.



At my MC shop the pay rises are around 5-7k a year between 0 and 4 PQE. It’s a little more opaque above and more performance based but I wouldn’t expect it to be massively more.



I was waiting for some who actually knows what they are on about. All these headline salary increases at NQ-4pqe are put out there to attract people. The reality is that post 5-6 year pqe the formal salary increases are not that great, and what you earn is largely down to your ability to negotiate a better salary for yourself based on various factors (practice area, performance, who in the partnership speaks on your behalf). An 8 year pqe associate in Slaughter’s employment practice is probably earning a lot less than a 6 year pqe associate in the Corporate team who is partnership track.



Why would you still be at S&M at 6/7 pqe when you could get 100k more at a US law firm.



Because most people here do not have a clue how much a 7PQE at Slaughters makes, there is not such a huge discrepancy in salary, and at Slaughters, you may have strong prospects of joining a partnership which will last you for life.



Is it correct to say S&M has a shorter partnership track (7-8 years) compared to other MC firms (12 years or more in mine)?



Yes, but equally true that vast majority of associates will never make partner and therefore leave around the PQE 4-6 mark to join US firms.


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