US law firms hold London NQ pay steady amid COVID-19 uncertainty

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By Aishah Hussain on

White & Case and Cleary Gottlieb opt against rises or cuts for now

The London offices of two US law firms have kept their newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor salaries at their current rates in spite of the economic headwinds brought by COVID-19.

As other City firms, including three of the magic circle, chip away at their NQ pay packets, autumn qualifiers at White & Case and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton will continue to receive six-figure-sums in line with previous years.

White & Case associates have moved through the salary and qualification levels as usual, a spokesperson from the firm said. In light of the current circumstances, W&C hasn’t taken any decisions about when and whether to increase its salaries. W&C trainees qualifying in the firm’s London office in August are set to receive the current NQ rate of £105,000 for now, the spokesperson confirmed. Their salaries rose to this level from £90,000 in 2017.

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Cleary Gottlieb has confirmed it currently has “no plans” to review NQ salaries, which were bumped by 11% to reach £133,000 in October 2019.

A spokesperson from the firm said: “Our newly qualified solicitors had their compensation raised 11% which was effective 1 October 2019. We have no plans to review salaries this year and trainees will qualify as normal in September on our standard newly qualified salaries.”

Legal Cheek understands that other US law firms are adopting a similar approach.

Freshfields and Herbert Smith Freehills, previously opted to hold their NQ pay at the same rate as last year, having raised to £100,000 (plus bonus) and up to £105,000 respectively in 2019.

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