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Goodwin Procter raises NQ solicitor pay to £137,500

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Trainee salaries to be reviewed in the summer

Goodwin Procter has increased the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) solicitors by 10%.

NQs at the London office of the US firm have seen their salaries soar from £125,000 to £137,500.

Meanwhile, trainee solicitor salaries, which currently stand at £46,000 in year one, rising to £50,000 in year two, are expected to be reviewed in the summer.

Today’s big money move brings Goodwin’s NQ salary further in line with its US rivals’ in London. Sidley Austin and Davis Polk & Wardwell pay their new associates similar levels of cash, according to our Firms Most List.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Yet, the salary hike still falls short of the pay packets awarded by the US firms that sit atop the NQ pay league, where the likes of Akin Gump and Kirkland & Ellis pay their new associates dollar-tied salaries of around £150,000.

US firms in London appear to have bucked the COVID NQ pay cut trend seen across global elite and magic circle law firms as they continue to splash the cash on their new associates, and in some instances, hand out sizeable bonuses. Some of the magic circle are keeping up appearances by increasing NQ salaries albeit not quite to their pre-pandemic levels.

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57 Comments

William

There is just no way non US firms in London can compete

(50)(5)

MC

Considering the truly “phat wad”-paying US firms only compete for essentially a small cross section of top end PE and finance work, you can’t really compare the two.

No US firm could maintain their current profitability levels whilst branching out to become truly full service and compete as a proper law firm in London rather than just being a hedge fund’s paperwork slave.

(8)(13)

Concerned friend x

I’m not sure what your argument is. The US firms pursue high end PE, funds, finance, restructuring and litigation work because they know that’s where the best margins are to be found. That’s a strategy. There is no desire on their part to be “truly full service” because you cannot do that and maintain the margins the US outfits are chasing. The likes of Kirkland, White & Case and Latham probably outstrip the “proper law firms” to which you refer on revenue and profitability in London by this point.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Lol – Latham are full service and can go toe to toe with the MC in almost every dept, and also pay massively more.

W&C also full service

(18)(2)

tips@legalcheek.com

What about Latham and White & Case? Both have huge London offices, are full services, have top salaries and recorded massive profits last year.

(6)(0)

tod

Wow… what fantastic news for 8-10 people.

(124)(2)

Anon

Mad that you can be paid this whack at some fourth-rate American outfit when the MC can’t must anything past a ton.

(22)(24)

Anon

85 UK solicitors and 14 trainees

(11)(1)

Anon

Why doesn’t Goodwin appear in LC’s Most List?

(9)(0)

Dr Acronym

Cos’ it’s an obscure shet 4th rate firm. Go MC or GTFO.

HTH

(11)(36)

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

Agree, those US law firms are not even close to the UK behemoths.

(8)(3)

CMS4Lyfe

CMS > Cravath. Unstoppable beast, top whack and bonuses.

Plus we don’t need to work in the Cannon Street boiler room anymore, f*cking winning.

(15)(0)

Anon

$1.33bn global revenue in 2019 and expect a massive increase in 2020

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Wow! That is almost what a commercial baby can earn in 6 months at the Bar.

(18)(25)

Anon

In reality no UK firm will ever get close to US firm salaries due to the leaner structure of teams at US firms, the salary gulf between MC and US firms will only increase over time

(24)(0)

Anon

Not to mention huge annual bonuses plus Covid bonuses

(6)(1)

Anon

They do run a slightly leaner structure that pushes more admin on fee earners but the bigger driver is the client base of top US firms (PE, Funds, US Corporates) are less price sensitive than the primary client base of the Magic Circle.

That said, the variance in profitability margin is not as great as a comparison of average numbers suggests and MC firms could probably afford to pay lawyers and business services more if they wanted. You can’t tell all this from the stats you see on profit per equity partner etc but rather you need to look at overall profit as they run very different models as to how they divide up the profit. The US firms choose to run a model of fewer equity partners and more salary partners whereas the UK firms choose to share it around more (at partner level).

(22)(0)

Bob

A US salaried partner is the equivalent to a (senior) senior associate at a MC firm.

(2)(3)

Anon

Generalising but yes they tend to make up salary partners earlier than an equity partner case at a magic circle firm

(0)(0)

?

Comparison to Kirkland and Latham is incorrect.

Their $190k Cravath-scale year 1 salary is now £135k, not £150k?

(7)(3)

Anon

Absolutely correct, Kirkland pay $190,000 (pegged to the dollar) so a shade over £135,000 at NQ

(13)(4)

Rik

Agreed, Kirkland pay for NQ is $190,000 which at current exchange rates is just north of £135,000 so Goodwin are now paying more than Kirkland. Let the games commence….

(26)(2)

Anon

When will the chasing pack US firms match this?

(4)(0)

Anon

PE is absolutely booming so very shortly I would imagine

(4)(1)

Anon

The salary war within the London legal market is not winnable for UK firms. Law firms are built on talent and the US firms are determined to trigger a pay war

(6)(2)

Anon

Ironic given that Goodwin were widely publicised as conducting stealth layoffs last May! Probably need a bonus to keep the remaining associates from leaving.

https://abovethelaw.com/2020/05/goodwin-stealth-layoffs/

(9)(4)

Anon

There were no stealth layoffs in the Goodwin London office. Additionally, Goodwin London offer the opportunity for all associates to attend courses at Harvard Law School (flights, accommodation etc complimentary) and annual 5 day training sessions In NY.

(16)(8)

Snobby lass

So I take it that you didn’t attend HLS? A pity.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Hi Goodwin HR.

(32)(1)

ffs

*complementary

(1)(2)

Get it right

Embarrassed for you.

(1)(0)

Ban

Quite the opposite at the London office having recently hired 5 partners and numerous associates from Sidley Austin’s PE team

(9)(0)

Warwick Student

So in summary does that make it a phat whack style of US firm people talk about on here? Worth a cheeky speculative application?

(11)(1)

Anon

Please don’t base your application on legal cheek comments section chat

(15)(0)

Concerned

When is Shearman going to finally join the money law party after stealthy cuts to NQ pay last year?

(5)(2)

tips@legalcheek.com

Not soon, considering how bad of a hit they got when they lost 90% of their highly profitable disputes team, together with many of the clients.

(4)(0)

Heh

Cooley just announced revenue up by 16.8% in 2020 to $1.55 Ben so expect a wage increase soon

(0)(1)

Anon

Cooley? Sounds like a type of lemonade.

(10)(1)

Anon

Cooley? Sounds like a type of lemonade.

(1)(0)

Coolies carrying my stuff

Or an overworked early 20th century baggage handler. Go figure.

(0)(4)

Overall package

The headline NQ figure is meaningless. The broader point to note is that Goodwin London associate salaries across the PQE bands are now in line with MB/Latham and crucially not pegged to the dollar so as it stands, a 3PQE at Goodwin will be paid slightly more than an associate at MB/Latham given the $/£ they use.

On top of that, Goodwin London have moved to Cravath bonuses ranging from $15K-100K depending on PQE.

Also Covid bonuses this year in addition to the usual bonuses ranging from $2K-$15K depending on PQE.

What really sets Goodwin London apart however is not the salary figures, it’s the overall compensation package that includes 27 days of holiday and 6% matched pension contribution from the firm. For context, most US firms only match up to 2%.

If that wasn’t enough there’s the usual health, dental and gym membership. The firm also gave all associate/trainees £1500 as a working from home allowance to buy tech etc. but again unlike other firms left it to people to spend the money how they liked. No requirement to provide receipts and the firm doesn’t own anything bought using that money – I used my allowance to buy a ps5 and some gym equipment for example.

(45)(4)

??

Do associates actually get to take those 27 days though

(1)(0)

Troof

Yes and heavily encouraged to do so. Of course there are leave days that get interrupted by work. Sometimes it’s a quick email or call and other times it can be several hours but that’s the same whether you’re at Goodwin, the MC or a regional sweatshop.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Yes, absolutely. And more (partners ok if people fly out early on a Friday and come back late on a Monday from a long weekend provided you’re on top of work).

(1)(0)

Curious-city

£1500 just to fit yourself out a home office?! I work inhouse. My company told me to drive in one day and pick up stuff I needed from home like a screen or a chair. Didn’t even have these things collected together, one just walked around the office and got what was needed.

What would a trainee who still lives at home or is in a house share do though? Set up a makeshift office in the dining room? (I’m not talking to you private school jokers who had a wing in your parents detached house in Surrey).

(11)(0)

Sensible

People were told that they were free to take whatever they needed from the office before the whole shift to wfh. Most have managed but where trainees have found themselves in difficult positions with wfh set ups, the firm has been accommodating and has allowed a very limited number of people to travel into the office to work.

(1)(1)

anon

MB pay same as Latham? News to me…

(0)(0)

MB assoc

MB fly under the radar somewhat but they, along with Cravath, move first on the salary increases. They refer to it as the “Milbank scale” and not the “Cravath scale” internally and are annoyed Cravath have managed to become synonymous with the money law pay scale.

(3)(0)

Anon

My bad – thought the MB reference was to Mayer Brown rather than Milbank! That totally makes sense now lol.

(7)(0)

Acronimble

MB looks like it’s a reference to Milbank, rather than Mayer Brown (which doesn’t pay those rates in London). I was confused for a bit there too.

(1)(0)

lol

Yep and everyone is really, really happy and absolutely nobody is on stress leave.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Everything said above is accurate. Culture and values at Goodwin great. And partners share the $/£. No complaints.

(1)(0)

Anon

Meanwhile, regional firms are paying an absolute pittance…

(1)(2)

Anon

For crap people who don’t deserve more.

(2)(5)

Former toiler

More like Goodwin Rectum. This shop sweats the assets so hard you end up bald, overweight and with chronic, stress-induced IBS within two years of joining.

But hey, at least you get the “phat whack” salary and bonus right?

(7)(8)

Jarrod

This is a good start, but more should be done.

(1)(1)

Larry

Wrong article, lad.

(2)(0)

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