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US firms hold the MoneyLaw line

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Akin Gump, Vinson & Elkins, Sidley and Debevoise have ‘no plans’ to reduce London trainee or NQ pay

The London offices of four US law firms have kept their newly-qualified (NQ) and trainee solicitor salaries at their current rates in spite of the economic headwinds brought on by the coronavirus, telling Legal Cheek that they have “no plans” to reduce them.

As other City firms continue to chip away at the pay packets of their junior ranks, autumn recruits at Akin Gump, Vinson & Elkins, Sidley Austin and Debevoise & Plimpton, will see no cuts to pay.

Our Firms Most List shows that first year trainees at all four firms start on a salary of £50,000, rising to £55,000 in their second year. This will continue to be the case from September.

The firms award their NQs varying amounts.

Akin Gump pays its new associates a market-topping £150,000 ($190,000) upon qualification. A spokesperson for the firm told us that it has “no plans” to make changes to its UK salary scale. Akin Gump bumped NQ pay to this level back in 2018.

NQs at Vinson & Elkins will continue on a dollar-tied salary of £147,500, while their counterparts at Sidley Austin and Debevoise & Plimpton will remain on £135,500 and £134,800, respectively.

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The quartet are not alone in holding the MoneyLaw line.

Ropes & Gray announced last week that it will stick with its £130,000 NQ pay package.

Earlier this month, we reported that Cleary Gottlieb and White & Case will continue to pay their new qualifiers £133,000 and £105,000, respectively.

However, Jones Day, like with some other City law firms, has cut NQ pay. Solicitors qualifying in the US firm’s London office will still receive a six-figure-sum albeit one that’s down £5,000 from £105,000.

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85 Comments

US 1PQE

Nothing surprising – none of the major US firms are reducing pay at either trainee or associate level.

You can add Weil, Davis Polk, Skadden, Kirkland, Latham, Milbank and Cleary to the above list, all of whom pay between £130,000 and £135,000 for new associates, with the exception of Kirkland which is the only one of the above that is pegged to the dollar, equalling c. £150,000.

(21)(2)

Thank you for the update, official spokesperson for US firms

You are such a dork lmao. You literally live on this website. Imagine if you don’t even get a US TC 😂

(27)(7)

US +6 PQE

I know of at least one of the firms listed above that is downsizing certain teams (both fee earners and support staff). Of course, this will not be reported given the way they’re trying to hide it from going public.

Don’t assume that US firms are not making cuts just because they say that the NQ rate is not changing. They’d be foolish to change the NQ rate as they’ll use this as an opportunity to market themselves over the MC. The reality is that they’re making cuts (in some cases substantial ones) further up the chain which don’t get reported.

I am working at one of those firms and am seeing this. I’m commenting because people should know that it is extremely foolish and naive to think that US firms are not cost cutting.

I would not expect 1PQEs to notice, as they are often too junior to know what’s happening behind the scenes because they are not involved in the process.

(13)(11)

Anon

Dude, FYI, these posts aren’t helping you grind your axe. Give details and name the firm or stop sock puppeting. This is a private website and you’re anonymous. Aishah has offered in the past for you to contact her so your allegations can be reported. Get a temp email and do that.

(14)(8)

No axe to grind

I am not the same person posting. I have no axe to grind and no interest in reporting my firm.

If you don’t want to believe it then that’s your problem. Those who are genuinely interested in knowing more about how US firms work deserve to know to avoid surprises.

Lol

What is a “+ 6 PQE”?

You are a student 😴

(4)(0)

US 1PQE

Whatever you want to hear, I check this site a couple of times a week and am at one of the firms listed above. It really isn’t that hard to do and most of my colleagues will also go on legal cheek every now and then.

(0)(5)

Anon Assoc

Do you really work as a US Firm Assoc??

If you did, you’d know that Milbank has been recently known to put upward pressure on the Cravath Scale, so they most definitely pay $190k matched in London.

Latham also pays $190k in London, but they use a 5-year GBPUSD rolling average for the conversion so works out a little bit less than Kirkland and Milbank cash in hand.

Maybe you actually do work at one of those firms, and maybe it’s Weil – in which case, condolences

(13)(4)

Senex

K&E pay a reasonable amount more than Milbank given their floating FX rate whereas Milbank is fixed some way above the current spot rate.

(6)(0)

MB NQ

This is correct. Milbank fixes rates once a year which means that NQ is approx £136k.

(1)(0)

US 1PQE

You are simply wrong. Neither Milbank nor Latham pay $190k equivalent in London – they are both in the original £130,000 – £135,000 bracket that I put them in.

You can say Latham pays $190k but it’s set at a 5-year rolling average but that is the same as literally every big US firm in London; they all pay $190k but fixed at different FX rates. Again, my original post is correct for Latham, they are also in the £130,000 – £135,000 brackets for pay. If you have read that either of those firms pay $190k (at current pegging to the dollar rates) then it is wrong.

(4)(0)

BNOC

*Cadwalader sweats quietly*

(9)(0)

Forrest Gump

Poor showing from the UK firms who cut pay as soon as they could. Their London offices will be better leveraged to cope with any downturn than US outposts heavily focused on transactional work and yet the latter have maintained pay.

(21)(0)

Wedgely

Smashing!!

(0)(0)

anon

It’s okay if you are seeking to fill a hole left by an unhappy childhood.

(3)(4)

Bombay Bad Boy

Yes, all those with a happy childhood have developed the highly rational view that it’s preferable to work just as hard for way less money.

(20)(3)

SALTY GRAD

Anyone that truly believes they are worth £150,000 for doing sweat shop work is delusional. Magic Circle is the way forward.

(3)(33)

Anon

Unpopular opinion but MC NQs are underpaid for the hours they put in, and yes I know this sounds like a very first world problem, but hear me out.

Using A&O as an example:
90k including 10k sign-on bonus. Giving the benefit of the doubt, let’s use 90k base (instead of the 80k base which it actually is).
Average leave time – 8.43pm.

Comparing with the firms in this article:
Akin Gump – 150k/8.27pm
Sidley Austin – 135k/8.29pm
Debevoise – 135k/8.41pm
So A&O NQs get anywhere between 45k-60k less, despite working approximately the same hours.

Now comparing with the SC:
TS – 85k/7.32pm
Macs – 85k/7.53pm
Hoglove – 85k/7.29pm
Ashurst – 84k/7.56pm
HSF – ‘105k’/7.47pm – ignoring this outlier as in reality hardly anyone will be getting the full bonus
So A&O NQs get 5k more, for working 1h more every evening.

On a purely numerical basis, the choice is clear – US firm for a massive pay jump while working similar hours, or SC for slightly less pay but a considerably earlier leave time.

(49)(4)

Brian

Could it not be argued that MC associates are fairly paid and others (e.g. US) are overpaid?

(6)(7)

Anon

I know everyone hates Slaughters on this site, but this methodology doesn’t really apply to it – average leave time is 7.14pm, earlier than all the SC.

Yes lots of Qs about whether it’s actually MC or not, but is a slightly less beasting.

(9)(15)

William A

This is a myth. Well mostly a marketing strategy by grad recruitment and it seems to work since chums like you believe it

(19)(2)

Trainee

@William this is literally the figure from the LegalCheek survey which is where all the other figures from the original comment are taken from. Slaughters doesn’t pay LegalCheek to be a “featured recruiter” so how is it grad recruitment spin?

@Jonathan I’m sure – but Slaughters does have consistently very high retention rates for trainees. Sure, it’s not for everyone but no firm is. Freshfields had a retention rate in the 60s a couple of years ago. I’d look at that for an indication of culture rather than hearsay in Legal Cheek comments from “everyone you know”.

Jonathan is a troll. Honestly once you get into work no one cares if you’re Oxbridge or not – it’s can you do the work and not be a prat.

To prospective students – try to experience any firm for yourself – through networking at events / virtual open days etc. Apply to firms where you’ve liked the people you’ve spoken to, that may be Slaughters, that may be somewhere else.

Also once you qualify into any MC firm recruiters literally phone you up daily asking if you want a job at a US firm – if that’s your end goal a MC firm is as good a place as any to start your career.

Please don’t base your perception of a firm on LegalCheek comment sections!

(8)(18)

James

Those figures aren’t real they’re based on a survey of asking a few people at each firm. It doesn’t break down the transactional to non transactional hours and throughout the financial year and deal completions. There is so much info that the average hours don’t tell you and if you believe them just like that then you’re either naive af or just plain stupid

Anon

“Honestly once you get into work no one cares if you’re Oxbridge or not – it’s can you do the work and not be a prat.”

The awful punctuation and syntax aside, this is bollocks. You never cease to be judged by your university. This is unsurprising, given that Oxbridge graduates are the brightest people of their generation.

Duh

Clearly these figures are averages. But they’re what the original comment in the chain used for their analysis.

The first comment was just pointing out that Slaughters doesn’t fit the pattern he built his hypothesis on.

Honestly good luck if you’re an Oxbridge grad who thinks boasting to your superiors you’re an Oxbridge grad will get you further in the workplace. Rather you than me.

Jones

Slaughters has the worst culture in any firm. Not just out of the Magic Circle but across all London city firms. It’s toxic as hell. Very very hierarchal. Oxbridge white middle class dominated. And everyone I know who works there and friends who know people that work there are miserable and are quite vocal about it. The office politics that go on at slaughters is second to none

(94)(122)

Jonathan

I’ve never heard such rubbish. Let it be said firstly that hierarchy is not in itself a bad thing. The partners are responsible for the success of the firm and it is they who shoulder the risk. It should therefore come as surprise that they are treated with respect at any firm. At Slaughter and May that is particular the case – look at the Partners’ Dining Room for instance.

Your points about diversity can easily be refuted by a cursory glance at the profiles of the associates on the firm’s website. Further, I have no idea why valuing academic excellence (Oxbridge) is to be scoffed at.

Office politics is not a thing at Slaughters. There is no face time culture, and people at all levels are very approachable with the entirely reasonable proviso that it is done respectfully. I.e. don’t go barging into the Senior Partner’s office!

(46)(30)

Henry

Looool this is the exact same recycled speech Slaughters grad rec give at their presentations and open days

David

@jonathan

Spamming the dislike button isn’t going to change the truth hahaha

(8)(9)

Jonathan is a troll

He’s that sad he’s spamming the likes/dislikes button in his favour

Slaughters has him on a leash

Anonymous

Sounds wonderful.

(0)(0)

Anon

What a stupid comparison, comparing leaving and arrival times gives you such a thwarted view. You also need to compare culture, training, breadth and depth of practices, retention of associates etc. US firms are constantly shedding Associates.

(0)(2)

US lawyer

If you work at one of these US law firms and you’re working on a deal opposite your MC equivalent then you are both going to be pulling the same hours. The MC associate isn’t going to be able to leave earlier than the US associate just because they get paid less, if the US associate is staying up all night sending comments and markups across. On that basis, if you are in one of the finance/PE/transactional areas of law you might as well work at a US firm and get paid 50/60k more per year, get more responsibility, enjoy a smaller team and generally often better perks. It’s a no brainer.

The MC retains people who are either (1) obsessed with the status of working at a MC firm when in reality it means nothing to anybody outside of law (2) are too scared and don’t back themselves as a lawyer who is able to hit the ground running and thrive in a faster paced US law firm (3) enjoy the comfort and security of being in a big cosy UK firm with an office of hundreds of people.

You’ll find most people who left MC firms to become partners at US firms are the ambitious, risk taking, entrepreneurial lawyers and far less traditional and old school than their MC counterparts.

When the US associates want to get the deal over the line ASAP and generally get stuff done, theMc equivalents are morning about typos, format issues and the way things read.

(46)(11)

stopit

You are not in a US firm or a lawyer. Your writing is all over the place. Nothing you have said is true and typos are important in law. The training you receive in any firm will help you eliminate typos. You have made plenty in your post.

I actually am in a US firm. The hours are much worse than an MC firm. You may be working on the same deal, but they staff 100 associates to do it when on our end, it’s just me and maybe another. The target billables are significantly longer in US firms to the MC, and you need to make target not only to get your bonus, but also to be in good standing at the firm. If you didn’t make target, you’ll likely get sacked off the next year or the year after.

Turnover in US firms is high. You do it for the money and you then leave. Associates in UK firms stay at one for a significant portion of their careers. It is much better also to train in a UK firm – the training will be better, there is usually little to no formal training in US firms. There’s just a lot of grunt work and you won’t have a life.

(3)(9)

Stopit x 2

Agree with stopit. My experience is the same.

I’d also add that those MC circle lawyers who’ve jumped ship for partnership at a US firm turn out (from my experience) to be the dumbest people hired and who were not taken seriously at their former MC firm.

(7)(3)

Anon

Uh, aren’t most of the transactional partners at US firms former major rainmakers and department heads at MC firms? You think Higgo wasn’t taken seriously at Freshies?

(10)(2)

@ Anon

Salaried Partners = Mid-level Associates. The dumb lawyers referenced above are the salaried partner promotions.

Yes, US firms do hire rain makers from Magic Circle. The ones who have moved to Kirkland have moved there only because they’ve been offered guaranteed remuneration for +3 years. That is the only reason they join. Higgo etc. would have never joined otherwise. All those below him are on completely different conditions.

As an associate or trainee you will never be working with a rain maker but with those beneath him/her, which means you will only be exposed to and learn from second rate lawyers.

Anon

Why so bitter? Did you get rejected by the US firms you applied to? K&E doesn’t guarantee remuneration for share partners (they guarantee a number of shares). Many great lawyers move laterally as salaried partners (e.g. most of the best PE senior associates at Links). Plenty of rainmakers rise up the ranks as salaried partners (e.g. Sachdev). It’s just a title dude.

@2.55pm

In the last year, Linklaters, Ropes, MoFo and Goodwin have hired Kirkland salaried partners into their equity in London… a pretty good result for your “dumb lawyers”!

@9.56

It is quite easy to get into an American law firm, they have a special place for a huge collection of MC rejects and failures.

DT

Hi. Just to balance some of the claims here. For what it’s worth, I moved from levfin at a MC to one of the bigger US firms a couple of years ago. i got the fear mongering from people when I was leaving, but the hours here are pretty much the same and the work is identical. The main differences are A) clients are sponsors rather than banks and can pay us more and B) there are no teams doing employment, pensions, MTN updates, data privacy, blockchain, sports law, etc. That’s fine work to do, but it’s low margin and means some teams significantly cross-subsidise other teams at MC firms because everyone is paid the same. I moved because life is short and money is real. YMMV.

(17)(2)

Anon @ 11.43am

Well said. Having qualified into a finance practice group at an MC firm, sometimes I look across at my friends at US firms and wonder how things might’ve turned out had I applied to, trained and qualified in a US firm instead.

Is 90k/year a great salary? Definitely yes, and to claim it isn’t would be outrageously out of touch.

Am I seriously underpaid for the hours I do? Arguably yes as well, and the ‘better work-life balance’ pipe dream sold by grad rec burst early on in my first seat two years back. It simply doesn’t make logical sense to be doing essentially the same hours as US associates, while getting paid so much less.

Unfortunately, lateral opportunities won’t be opening up in large numbers anytime soon, or I’d be seriously considering jumping ship.

(22)(5)

Anon

It is NOT a no brainer.

Why don’t you check how many people at the US firm are still there after 2-3 years? Most of them will have been thrown out the door and go in-house. Also – some US firms are downsizing their teams (won’t be reported in the press for obvious reasons) but don’t assume it’s all greener on the other side because it is not.

US firms and lawyers working there like to show off about how good it all is and how well they’re doing, yet in reality they could be without a job overnight because lots of people are pushed out of US firms! It’s just the way they work.

(2)(7)

US 1PQE

This is a silly comment and simply not the case. The US firms work just the same as the magic circle; their NYC head office is no different from a MC office in London, people are not pushed out overnight.

Majority of people at US firms who are ‘pushed out’ are people that just aren’t simply good enough to continue at the firm, it isn’t some brutal chopping process that takes place. I would add it is probably not that different from being in a MC firm and getting pushed out. The main difference is that you have far more visibility at a US firm and more accountability than compared to a MC firm; that is simply because of the numbers and having fewer people on deals. I prefer it because you genuinely do get better work at your respective level and have a greater understanding of what you are doing, but equally it means if you are doing a bad job it comes to light quicker than at a MC firm.

That is really the only difference but to say people are pushed out of US firms overnight and it is just the way they work is simply wrong. Outside of Kirkland the majority of US firms have similar associate attrition to the magic circle firms, it is usually just more noticeable at a US firm as the total number of associates in the office is smaller.

(5)(2)

Not a 1PQE attorney

I’m afraid you are still a 1PQE lawyer.

I am not trying to be condescending but you have little experience of US firms. You will no longer be treated with velvet gloves from 2-3 PQE onwards.

(1)(1)

aga

These firms are paying a good double what CMS does – how is that even possible?

(0)(5)

Anon

Firm 1 is a MC firm with plc clients. It has an average charge out rate of £500, but it usually gives clients a 15% discount as part of the pitch/panel arrangement. It often takes 10% off the final bill in order to keep the GC happy/help the GC look good. End result is an effective rate of £382.50.

Firm 2 is a US firm with PE clients. It has an average charge out rate of £700, and never discounts. Fees are passed on to the ultimate institutional investors as fund expenses. End result is an effective rate of £700, or 83% more than the MC firm. That 83% is roughly how much more associates/partners get paid.

No difference in quality, no difference in hours, just a difference in client bases. US firms in London have notoriously high rates (e.g. over $1000/hour for 4PQEs at Kirkland based on recent bankruptcy filing disclosures) and are famous for refusing to work for clients who don’t pay them in full.

(18)(1)

Ted

Can confirm this is a very solid explanation as to why salaries between MC and top US firms (Debevoise, Latham, Kirkland etc) differ to the extent they do

(7)(0)

Caveat

I don’t disagree, except to say that US firms also drive people harder, 1) because they staff fewer people to complete the work (which protects profit margin even further) and 2) because even if they didn’t have fewer people, American working culture demands that you must earn every dollar.

This means that all in all, you can generally expect to work harder at a US firm than a UK equivalent. I guarantee you the top performers in K&E, Skadden, Latham etc. are pushing up to 3000 hrs p/a, and the vast majority are hitting easily over 2000. Please name UK firms in respect of which this is equally true (you can’t).

So US firms, as well as having a more profitable business model, are also outworking other firms. This is an important part of the comparative analysis – and a fairly apparent/widely recognised one – hence it’s difficult to work out why so many LC commenters frantically deny it. You are correct in what you are saying but you are also omitting a v. relevant piece of the puzzle, which is what makes it look like you have an agenda.

(2)(3)

DT

Lots of people move from MC to US and find the hours to be the same. I did, and before I moved I knew others who did. Of course, the MC partners told me I’d be doing 3000/year to convince me to stay put. That’s where the agenda is: MC firms trying to scare associates out of leaving for the money. (The MC could easily pay Cravath salaries, indeed they already do for US qualified lawyers, but doing it for everyone would reduce PEP and they’ll fight tooth and nail to avoid that.)

For what it’s worth, my hours target is 1800. It’s not a hard target as such, just the min to get a bonus. Most people here do 1900 or so. That’s a lot of hours, and it’s more than the average MC associate generally, but it’s not much more than the average PE or levfin MC associate. YMMV.

LC’s start/leave time survey, for example, doesn’t show that big of a difference in total working hours, despite the fact the survey doesn’t control for the fact that MC firms have plenty of small or niche departments that drag the hours down.

(6)(0)

The lower the quality the higher the billing rate

Lol No difference in quality!!! Please don’t be ridiculous.

I work for one of those “top” firms too and previously for a silver circle firm. I can see a massive gap in quality with our US firm charging clients more for lower quality work.

There is a running joke amongst my close associate friends that if we were ever to work in-house we know that we would never be appointing our US firm as external counsel after seeing the quality dished out by our firm.

Where salaried partners are involved, you are being billed for work at partner rates by someone who is not a partner by real standards.

Those who are senior partners do not do any work but just bring in business and they were originally hired from MC or SC firms, so might as well go to the firm that trained them in the first place where you get better advice and keep your costs lower.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Wow, that’s a really funny running joke!

You should tell it to the clients who rank Kirkland band 1 in Chambers UK for PE M&A, restructuring, leveraged finance and funds (i.e. all of its core practice areas) and the countless sponsor clients who have moved all of their work from MC firms to US firms in the last 10 years.

(2)(0)

Thomas

That is simply not true! You’re delusional and spreading false information.

“Clifford Chance Proves Most Popular Adviser to Top-Tier Private Equity Clients

The Magic Circle firm beat the likes of Kirkland and Freshfields to the bulk of Blackstone and CVC European mandates over the past 12 months.”

June 26, 2020

https://www.law.com/international-edition/2020/06/26/clifford-chance-proves-most-popular-adviser-to-top-tier-private-equity-clients/?slreturn=20200627063744

If only you knew how easy it is to inflate a firm’s reviews to get “Band 1” on legal directories you wouldn’t be writing that.

@Thomas

… have you actually read that article and what it says about those firms? I guess your high school doesn’t have an ALM subscription?

SW

The headline says it all. Sorry to burst your bubble. Kirkland is losing PE business.

@SW

Please read the article. It doesn’t support your claim. Nor do the objective rankings. Google them. Mergermarket ranked K&E #1 for European PE deals by value in H1 2020. And #1 in full year 2019. None of this actually matters, these are all great firms. But you seem to be in a fantasy fuelled by hatred (jealousy?) of K&E and I hope you get better.

Anon

Can someone offer me advice? I’m 25 and am considering doing an LLB law degree part time. I got top A level grades when I was 18 but shortly afterwards I was convicted and jailed for an offence under the SOA 2003. I was released in 2018 and for the last two years have been working as a software engineer for my friend’s commerce business.

My question is whether I would have any hope in hell of securing a training contract with my criminal history, and whether the type of firm or work would make a difference?

Thanks.

(0)(0)

Bombay Bad Boy

You would have hope in hell but not anywhere else.

(15)(0)

Oops

Contact the SRA. Depends. But also, quite frankly, if you want to be a lawyer you will need better research skills than asking this on an unrelated legal cheek article.

(6)(0)

Confused grad

Choose money and decreased quality of life and work at US. Or choose a much better quality of life and a lot less money and work mid tier. True or false? I am struggling to see the point of working anywhere in-between (unless I suppose you are somebody who really cares so much about the work you are doing that you don’t care if your life suffers as a result)

(7)(9)

Jim

Culture is important. I really like working at the MC firm I work at (and I’m a lateral associate so have worked elsewhere). Good culture, great pay, good people, interesting work. It’d be a big risk to move to a US firm for more money, and quite frankly, I am already outrageously well paid.

(5)(3)

Bombay Bad Boy

Just qualify into an advisory practice area at a US firm = great pay and much better hours.

(19)(0)

Aaron

Those spots are rare and difficult to get into it. But if you can get that opportunity grab it with both hands

(3)(1)

Anon

Rubbish! I know people in regulatory and they are leaving in droves. It is dead! US firms are struggling to compete.

(0)(0)

genuinely asking

what’s an advisory practice?

(2)(9)

LLB

“Advisory”? Literally every practice area you are advising you half wit

(1)(6)

Final year student

This seems like good advice. Can I ask – what sort of advisory practices do US firms have? I have researched this but it’s hard to get an accurate answer because they mainly (and understandably) shout about their PE/corporate teams etc.

I presume it would be areas like tax, data protection and employment. Is that correct? If so, what is the actual work like at US firms for these areas?

(4)(7)

Anon

Yes, it would be areas like that. Also financial regulatory.

(1)(0)

Help

What are partnership prospects like if you qualify into an advisory practice at a US firm? Most advisory lawyers also seem to enjoy ‘black letter/academic law’. Are there any advisory areas that are not too technical but more varied? Competition?

(1)(4)

Mr. Practical

If you’re looking for “not too technical but more varied” (and, presumably, not to work all hours for the rest of your days given the sub-thread you’re responding to), tough out a couple of years in a mid-tier corporate practice and go in-house at ~3PQE.

No shame in it, but if that’s what you want you’re looking in the wrong place.

AGM

Look at funds at US firms – genuinely interesting, although the hours will not be easy.

(1)(0)

GR

Please don’t listen to “Bombay” boy.

Advisory practice groups at US firms are not doing well at all. They over charge and clients are dropping them for Magic Circle and Silver Circle firms because they have depth and breadth and keep costs lower.

I know a friend who’s moved into an advisory role at a US and had to leave because work was drying up, another 4 associates all left the same advisory practice group.

Advisory at a US firm is the worst possible place you can be because you’re not really an independent practice group and need to feed off others at the firm. This means you’re more of a cost centre to the firm and the partner you’re working for than a revenue generator. It is only Latham and Shearman that have been able to build good sustainable advisory groups.

Many people commenting here have an agenda and quite frankly and their comments sound like they’ve been written by recruitment teams or people who are desperate to use people and throw them away without actually telling them what they’re in for.

I can think of one firm in particular that’s quite desperate to portray a good image in the market due to its terrible reputation (which btw is well deserved).

(3)(1)

Ned

If you lack ambition, head offshore to somewhere like Cayman or BVI. True enough, you will not be taken seriously from a professional perspective, but you will have a shorter commute and a generally higher quality of life.

(7)(1)

Another confused grad

I’m interested in litigation/arbitration work and want to end up at a US firm. Should I apply just for US firm vac schemes and training contracts or should I also apply for magic circle scheme and try and transfer after qualification?

(0)(5)

So confusing innit :(

I sympathise with your dilemma.

(0)(2)

PIL

Clearly the energy boutiques like Akin Gump and Vinson & Elkins pay their NQ’s handsomely. Does anyone know how well the public international law boutiques pays lateral qualifiers or even NQ’s? Places like Volterra Fietta and Fietta. Also in contrast with firms like Three Crowns and in contrast with US firms who are strong in these areas like WilmerHale and Quinn Emmanuel?

(2)(8)

trainee

‘energy boutiques’ eesh. Get into law school first before you start worrying about getting into public international law – Volterra Fietta have a grand total of about 20 lawyers and do incredibly specialised international treaty arbitration, do you really think anyone on legal cheek is able to tell you about there ‘nq’ salaries?

plus, FYI, public international law doesn’t equal humanitarian law it usually means mind-bendingly complex economic/investment treaty disputes between a combination of states and companies.

(11)(1)

PIL

I’m aware and I’m just as interested in that type of work within PIL? Also I’ve just finished the GDL. You shouldn’t just make assumptions.

(1)(5)

trainee

in that case apologies. Simply, I would have expected someone who had completed two degrees to have powers of research a degree greater than asking the legal cheek comments.

(4)(0)

Insider

Volterra & Fietta and Fietta are very specialised and do a lot of general PIL work. If anything they both do less investment-treaty arbitration work than the US and Magic Circle firms that claim to have PIL practices. The pay at those two firms will be lower than the City firms, but the work will be (much) more interesting and you will have the chance to do human rights type advisory work for States and companies. The City firms that claim to do PIL really do mainly IT arb work like I and another said, and some commercial arb work between states and companies. Basically international disputes work which is really complex. The people you find at these firms are very (very) academic, firsts from top Unis and LLMs from the top Unis including Harvard/Yale/NYU/Cambridge/LSE etc. PhDs are quite common. These guys are often the smartest in most City firms. Litigation boutiques like Three Crowns falls in that category also. Its basically a bunch of partners from Freshfields that got tired of being conflicted out of work. Alternatively you could go to a mid-town law firm with an English law practice that deals with PIL before the English courts. This could be human rights focused like Leigh Day or more criminal law focused like Kingsley Napley, or sanctions focused like Peters and Peters. The pay there will be £50/60k ish for a junior associate. If you want to practice pure PIL, qualify as a solicitor and go work for the FCO, the Attorney Generals office, the UN or the Red Cross. All firms are commercial profit making organisations, so you will not do interesting work all the time, particularly when you are junior.

(6)(1)

Anon

What about WilmerHale and Quinn Emmanuel?

(0)(0)

Insider

Strictly in the City/Three Crowns camp; they are both basically global litigation boutiques, very bright people and the bread and butter is commercial work. In terms of pure PIL, Volterra & Fietta and Fietta are the closest you will get to that in private practice as a solicitor but the pay will be lower than city firm. Either become a barrister or join the organisations I mentioned at the end of my last message.

(4)(0)

US law firm inhabitant

I don’t know why at this point LC habitually includes Jones Day on the US ‘money law’ lists and excludes other US firms like Dechert. Dechert NQs are on a salary of £120,000 in the London office now and practice wise is often on client panels with the like of Akin Gump and the other US firms. It hasn’t cut trainee intake or salary and retention is comparable to pre-COVID levels.

Jones Day culture and salary wise is losing respectability fast and just isn’t as competitive as it once was.

(5)(0)

Otto

The US firm that holds my my line…

It’s not in the way that they hold me
It’s not in the way they say they care
It’s not in the way they’ve made me miss my friends
It’s not in the way that I stay till 4am
It’s not in the way I look at the things that they make me do

(2)(1)

Paul the other one

No comment from Kirkland NQ has he crashed the Lambo?

(3)(0)

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