Ropes & Gray retains all its trainees and keeps NQ pay at £130k

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All five rookies stay on

Ropes & Gray has retained all of its autumn qualifying trainees as it confirms it will keep newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor salaries at £130,000.

The US law firm’s London office will retain all five of its trainees due to qualify in September.

Four of the five NQ solicitors will join the firm’s private equity practice, with the remaining rookie qualifying in asset management.

Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows that new Ropes & Gray associates in London start on a minimum salary of £130,000, plus bonus. That’s an uplift of £75,000 on year two pay which currently stands at £55,000. First-year trainees at the firm earn £50,000.

Ropes & Gray’s NQ salary rose 8% in February and the new £130,000 pay packet applied to its March qualifiers, of whom two out of three (66%) were kept on. The six-figure-sum will continue to apply to its September NQs, a spokesperson for the firm confirmed.

Ropes & Gray’s training programme has been running since 2011 and is now made up of 14 trainees. Seven new trainees will join the firm as normal in September, they added.

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A number of law firms have announced their autumn trainee retention results in the past month.

So far fellow US firm Sidley Austin is the only other City firm to post a pandemic-proof 100% score, retaining all 11 trainees due to qualify in its London office this autumn. One associate-to-be is on a six-month fixed-term contract.

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Genuine question: please don’t troll, please give actual advice because I really need a second opinion. Thanks

So… I’ve been offered a TC at Simmons & Simmons but I can’t help but think maybe the grass is greener over at the Silver Circle/Magic Circle and evening US firms. The NQ salary is at 79k and I just keep comparing it to the six figure salaries and feel like I want more.

I have heard some people say that it’s possible to transition to those firms after qualifying but I personally feel it’s quite a big jump and those firms are more likely to recruit people who trained at firms with a bigger name and reputation.

But I have recently graduated and I know the legal job market is very saturated and it’s even tougher to get a TC right now, so I am confused?


Evening Lawyer

With an evening US firm the pay may be better as you are working night shifts only but you will have to think about occupying your days as you will have plenty of free time.


good one goyle

i think he meant to say even at US firms* lol



at firms like pinsents, simmons and dla etc, you will spend 15 years to become a salaried partner to earn what some of these US firms are making as a 1st year NQ…


(soon to be) NQ at US Firm in the City

It is genuinely relatively easy (depending on the practice area) to move to another higher paying firm on qualification. From experience, Simmons and other firms like it (e.g. Ashurst, WFW, etc.) are treated incredibly well in the industry and in some ways you will have a leg up in TMT and digital experience compared to a number of other firms.

If you have the enthusiasm and interest to move to a higher paying firm at NQ then partners will pick up on this at interview quite easily and I can guarantee you that training at Simmons will not discount you from being considered – its still an international and well respected city firm. I’ve known people to qualify into my firm or join laterally from Foot Anstey and DLA in the recently, because they shone as individuals.

I also wouldn’t comment on trying to get into higher paying firms now when most of your experience of the working hours and culture will have come indirectly from Legal Cheek, open days, etc. City law is a lot more grueling than future trainees often realise and I’d suggest getting some great experience under your belt first so you have some sort of frame of reference.


Top lawya

Yes of course you can. You also get many people who train outside of London and move into a US firm. It’s all about whether you back yourself and have the self confidence to make the jump and hit the ground running. The first year or so is definitely not easy but once you get used to it you’ll probably love it, if it’s the right fit for you. Teams are leaner and you have a lot more responsibility and are expected to be much more self motivated and responsive than at the MC/SC firms.

It’s a massive salary difference even after tax and especially worth it at the junior to mid level. You can do a few years and then leave if you don’t like it and you can probably go to just about any other firm once having been at a top US firm.



Legal cheek is probably the worst website to ask this ki d of question… Filled with trolls and clueless people who can only comment ‘K&E/Latham are the best firms all the rest are trash’…

The quick and only answer is yes… Whatever your traineeship in a respectable firm (including Simmons) you can definitely jump to big money firms if you’re good enough, anything else you read here is absolute BS by people who wouldn’t even make it into those firms’ canteens



Presumably you have a while to accept your TC – wait for all your applications to come through for MC/SC/US and then weigh up your options. If you don’t get any though you might as well accept Simmons and see how it is, then potentially look to transfer.

Don’t decline a TC and sit out a year as there is no guarantee you’ll get one next year.



“Don’t decline a TC and sit out a year as there is no guarantee you’ll get one next year.”

Perfect advice in any normal year, doubly true now.



Agreed. You’re right to be concerned. You should decline the offer from Simmons and tell them that the grass is greener at MC and US firms who haven’t made you an offer.



Loads of ex-Simmons people at Kirkland etc. Very easy to move post-qualification.


Simmons over US firms

Kirkland hires all the trash from all over: this includes people from Addleshaw Goddard, DLA, Ireland, Australian law firms, those who’ve done Uni in India etc, etc. The standards are really not very high, so don’t worry about training at Simmons!!

I’ve worked with both Simmons and Kirkland lawyers, the quality at Simmons is much much higher. This is because they get better training and have layers of lawyers across their practice groups/more supervision to make sure that the advice provided is top notch. They also have more people who are specialised unlike at US firms where you will find jack of all trades in a practice group.



What’s wrong with DLA Piper? You snuck that one into the list. Same salary as Simmons



Don’t worry, he’s a troll (or he’s simply mad with envy).

1. Addleshaw and DLA are fine firms. There are plenty of ex-DLA people at Magic Circle firms. The MP of Linklaters is ex-DLA.

2. If Simmons is so exceptionally good, why is it’s PEP £710k against Kirkland’s £4.12m (despite the fact they have similar proportion of equity partners compared to non-equity partners and associates)? Why have Kirkland and other US firms stolen so many clients from the Magic Circle if they do a worse job?

3. The most common origin of Kirkland people is Linklaters, Freshfields and CC. Dozens of equity partners came from those firms and associates followed. Do people suddenly become worse lawyers as soon as they double their salary?

4. It’s harder to get into Indian and Australian law schools than it is to get into Oxbridge (look at the A level minimums). Unlike the UK, top graduates don’t go and become barristers (as you normally work as a solicitor for several years first). That’s why the Magic Circle and US firms love hiring them.

Not a troll

Not a troll – difference in PEP is due to Simmons being headquartered in London and not having a US office as well as its sector focus. PEP has absolutely nothing to do with quality. US firms charge clients more (because they are mainly US clients) and overwork their fee earners with more hours and less people. That’s the difference.

Not going to bother explaining education in India and Australia, etc.


Australian universities in general are far inferior to those in the UK, and their graduates are neither as clever nor as well educated as graduates from UK universities. Top City law firms still look down on Australian qualified/educated lawyers for this reason. They will, as it is put, “rent an Aussie” at mid Associate level, but there is no real scope for promotion. It is for this reason that there are so many Australians in third rate common law jurisdictions, such as the UAE, Cayman, BVI, etc.


What’s wrong with DLA? I’m genuinely asking that isn’t a rhetorical question haha


Michael Collins

Irish law schools have are better than 90% of British universities. Irish law firms pay just as much as MC both at trainee and NQ level and work for the same clients.

You haven’t worked with these lawyers, you’re a troll; back into your box.

Outside of England, nobody has ever heard of universities other than Oxford, Cambridge and maybe LSE. Likewise, nobody has ever heard of most firms outside MC and big US firms.

This is exactly the type of elitist crap why everyone hates the Brits. Best of luck with Brexit.



The Irish legal profession is for those not good enough to practise in a decent jurisdiction.

OK I'll bite...

Nonsense. Why does going to uni overseas or having worked at a law firm overseas – particularly if you are not from the UK originally – make someone “trash” compared to their UK counterparts?

You do realise that the MC and many other UK firms are full of Commonwealth lawyers including from Australia and India which you seem to think are below standard. These firms wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of pounds in relocation costs to hire them if they were “trash”.

Or do you seriously think that your 2:1 at Bristol or Distinction in the GDL somehow makes you a world beater and the cream of the crop? With grade inflation, that puts you in the top 80-90% of all graduates – hardly a difficult achievement and laughable really when you look at the grade distributions in other countries to achieve the equivalent.

I wouldn’t work at Kirkland myself but the bashing is getting tired (although admittedly the “Top whack Lambo NQ” comments are just as bad). There is more to life than cash and there are many good reasons not to choose Kirkland (especially outside of Corporate/Finance), but it is silly to keep perpetuating the notion that the MC/UK firms are full of intellectually superior lawyers. The US NQs are getting 130k+ base to churn boilerplate. Their equivalents at the UK shops are churning the same boilerplate in most instances – you must be deluded if you place a 40-60k price on some fanciful notion of intellectual superiority or on training/supervision.

The UK firms are still better at training in the round but a lot of that is hand-holding and having comfortable precedents to copy and paste – hardly necessary if they really were full of intellectual heavyweights?


Mic drop

You’ve missed the point. It wasn’t about bashing US firms. The point is that students’ perception that you have to be special to work at K&E is wide of the mark. This is an assumption predicated on their desperation to work there / view of K&E as the promised land. It’s not a reflection of reality, which is that near enough any qualified lawyer is eligible for a job there. Asking whether K&E would ‘consider’ CVs from firms like Simmons, as children often do, is f*cking ridiculous – if anything, K&E has lower standards than the average MC/White Shoe firm.


@Mic, please show us where people are expressing these “perceptions”? That rather looks like a strawman you use to justify bashing Kirkland because you’re jealous of their wealth and success.

Truth serum

If you are making career decisions at this stage based on salary, you clearly cannot go wrong…..


U confuzed

I doubt the hours you work will be much different to the other firms you mentioned and neither will the standard that’s expected. If you can get into a US firm then go to a US firm. Tough market though.



But your doubt is not based on any knowledge or experience, so who cares. These firms are generally harder to work at – fact. In many cases, much much harder by comparison to mid-market English firms. If you want to kid yourself that Americans are kind souls who just like giving money away for free, go ahead


U confuzed 2

I am at a US firm now and was at a SC. I have friends in MC, SC and mid-tier. So that’s knowledge and experience. The hours and standard expected is not materially different. Thx. Bye.


Career conundrum

Genuine question: please don’t troll, please give actual advice because I really need a second opinion. Thanks

So… I’ve been offered a TC at Simmons & Simmons but I can’t help but think maybe the grass is greener over at the Silver Circle/Magic Circle and evening US firms. The NQ salary is at 79k and I just keep comparing it to the six figure salaries and feel like I want more.

I have heard some people say that it’s possible to transition to those firms after qualifying but I personally feel it’s quite a big jump and those firms are more likely to recruit people who trained at firms with a bigger name and reputation.

But I have recently graduated and I know the legal job market is very saturated and it’s even tougher to get a TC right now, so I am confused?


God of Litigation

Don’t be greedy. Be grateful to have a TC in the first place.



It’s not always as simple as that though


God of Litigation

Usually, I would agree with you. But in the uncertain times we live, if I was the OP, I would be counting my lucky stars to get a TC at such a firm.


Passer by

Agreed. Take the TC in this tough market! Simmons is a great firm and plenty of its lawyers have no trouble moving on post-qualification.



Money aside, from a career point of view don’t You think it’s worth that guy moving to a better firm?



No. It’s possible the individual might find finance/PE deals beyond boring. Which many, many people do. Some of the top paying London outposts of American firms have highly regarded practices in other areas like arbitrations, tax advisory/disputes and insolvency/restructuring, but these teams will likely only contribute a small percentage of the London office’s turnover. It would therefore be really difficult to do a TC seat in these areas at most of the elite US firms in London. Subsequently it would be harder to qualify into such teams. However, I would be surprised if a firm like Simmons didn’t have those options for seats. In fact I know Simmons has very good specialist teams, like their employment group. Other global leading law firms have hired Simmons to represent them in internal employment disputes and investigations.

The perfect scenario would probably be to qualify into one of the specialist teams the OP enjoys at Simmons (or the like for others; DLA, Eversheds London, Stephenson Harwood etc etc) and try to lateral at the most valuable stage for a junior lawyer, which is 3-5 years PQE: not so green you are an overpaid trainee, not so experienced you cost a fortune in salary and/or looking for partnership immediately.



Genuine question, why do people on here rubbish Ropes sometimes when the firm seems to be doing just fine? Smaller office, excellent pay, clearly confident in its trainees, what’s not to like?



People like to troll lmao

If I’ve just been retained at a firm alongside all my peers, pulling in £130k a year, I wouldn’t give a damn what the LC comments section thinks of the firm.



It’s because Ropes is a fetid gulag where you get yelled at, pumped at 300% and end up packing on 20lbs in your first year since all you get to eat is greasy takeout from Five Guys across the road. Good whack and all but sweaty af


City Boyz

Moving from Simmons to a MC/SC should be relatively straightforward. US might be slightly harder but still very possible.

However, you’ve not even started your career so it’s unwise to look ahead so early.

There is a lot of negativity on this site (mostly banter but nevertheless) with people saying that a firm is trash if you don’t earn X amount at NQ or you don’t work at a US firm etc.

But let’s be honest, most Lawyers at big law firms do the same sh*t… regardless if you trained at K&E or Simmons, you’ll still be churning out template deals, you’ll still have to show up at lame grad rec events and you’ll still be spending time sadly tracking your deliveroo order during evenings.

There is no shame in working in a smaller city firm. Everyone has different life styles and personal preferences. It’s not all about money and long hours. Most NQs are earning significantly more than the majority of people in the UK.

Don’t let LegalCheek fool you.


God of Litigation

Sound logic.



You will easily be able to move to a US firm at NQ level. Some of the big dogs – Simpson Thacher, Wilkie Farr – are always looking for finance/corporate NQs. You don’t even have to have directly applicable experience on your TC to get an interview.

Keep an open mind though. You might discover on your TC that you actually prefer the ‘work life balance’ (although you will have periods of working very long hours as is the case for any City trainee/lawyer) and earn slightly less money. £79k is a very good salary – the vast majority of the people who say otherwise, and accordingly work their balls off for six figures, have no friends and weren’t loved as children.



Willkie Farr is not a “big dog” in any universe known to man, so don’t know why you’re mentioning them alongside STB.



Whatever. It’s a big US firm where you can earn a lot of money, which was what the original poster was discussing. It’s hardly the debate of the century is it. Don’t you have anything better to do?


Yankee Dolla

People say money isn’t everything, but in this profession it kind of is.

There is still the SAME expectation of working long hard ‘city lawyer’ hours, forgetting any sense of weekday plans or even weekends at many places.
There is still the SAME relentlessly demanding clients, determined to get the most bang for their buck and ensure you are on call 24/7.
There is still the SAME (pre-covid) city drudgery of dragging your sorry soul to the office after getting off a packed, sweaty tube and then later paying £20+ for your sh**ty lunch.

However, what is not the same is SALARY. You’re telling me even as mere legal cheek commentators you don’t see the issue in the London market?

I am keen to know WHY anyone would work for any of the MC/SC, when people across the road from you are doing PRETTY MUCH IDENTICAL WORK FOR SO, SO MUCH MORE??

The ‘prestige’ isn’t gonna make the long nights any better. The ‘prestige’ of MC clients isn’t really any different to US firms. And ‘prestige’ is certainly not going to help you to be able to retire 15 years before other lesser paid lawyers do.

This notion of prestige is peddled as a con to get graduates to stick to the MC/SC and this is simply the facts.


Future Aspiring Incoming US Firm Bad Boy

I think you’ve missed the point mate.

It’s a given most firms in the City require you to work hard but there is still some degree of flexibility to some extent with smaller firms (I.e. slightly less working hours, free most weekends etc, flexi working options). That is not the case with most US firms, those places are relentless.

Yes US firms and MC practically do the same work, but there are more factors to consider than just money. Most US offices are smaller in numbers and thus throw you straight into the deep end…whereas MC/SC have better support functions such as wider precedent banks, research and admin teams, and a number of trainees/paralegal resources at their disposal. Therefore the sink-or-swim culture at UF firms does not suit everybody.

US firms are the golden ticket to those who are happy to work that kind of lifestyle. And bravo if you’re one of those people! But for others who are happy in smaller firms (I.e those who value their hairline and weight more) they shouldn’t be looked down on. These comments make it seem that it’s US firm or bust… it’s honestly not that deep.

F*ck it, what do I know… I just scroll Legal Cheek comments most of my working day.



You have never worked in a US firm



Tell me what it’s like then bro if you know so much



You do the same work you did in the PE/finance/restructuring/funds department at your old MC firms. You work for a bunch of ex-MC partners. But there are no special rates, discounted bills or panel arrangements. PE clients pass on legal fees to investors and don’t care. US firms’ profit margin is therefore substantially higher. That benefit is shared with everyone at the firm.


Quite. And if you really don’t care about prestige, why not work in an offshore jurisdiction, such as the BVI? You won’t be taken seriously on a professional level, but you will have a shorter commute and a generally higher quality of life.



^here it is: the big mistake you insecure wage cucks are all making. You believe you are “being taken seriously” because you work for a law firm in London 🤣



Jul 15 2020 1:31pm: your argument is a classic fallacy. The undoubted truth of the proposition that offshore lawyers do not have professional credibility, does not depend on or otherwise invoke the equally undoubted truth that London lawyers do have such credibility. They are mutually exclusive propositions.



This is perhaps a ridiculous question, but it is genuine. Do most or a significant percentage of partners at US firms have a US-accent?



The American ones do.


TC dilemma

What do people on here think of Mishcon de Reya? I have been offered a training contract there but I am more interested in corporate/PE work than litigation or private client. If I accept a TC there and complete a seat within their corporate practice (which specialises in smaller deals for private companies) would I be able to move to a more corporate centred firm upon qualification (eg travers, slaughters, MC, US firm)?




MdeR is a West End firm. That tells you all you need to know.



If you work for money you’ll never be happy. Period.


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