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MoneyLaw latest: Simpson Thacher boosts junior lawyer pay to $205,000 in London

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US outfits continue to splash the cash

Simpson Thacher has joined a growing number of US firms to bump the already sizeable salaries of their newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London.

Junior lawyer pay at the New York headquartered outfit now sits at an eye watering $205,000, up from a previous rate of $190,000.

An internal memo circulated by the firm confirms its London lawyers will receive “proportionate salary increases”.

This means Simpson Thacher’s City lot will earn a salary of around £147,000, using today’s exchange rate — although, like with our previous MoneyLaw coverage, it’s worth noting that the unusually weak dollar obscures the full impact of the rises.

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Meanwhile, 2019 and 2018 qualifiers (US firms operate a slightly different PQE system to UK outfits) will now earn $215,000 and $240,000 respectively, while those at the very top of the associate ladder will receive $365,000 — or around £263,000.

The rises come after US outfit Milbank kicked-off another MoneyLaw pay war when it upped junior lawyer salaries to $200,000 (roughly £143,500) earlier this month. Not to be outdone, Davis Polk quickly hit back with pay rises of its own, upping NQ rates to $202,500.

A whole host of US firms have now matched this new benchmark with some, but not all, chucking the same rises at their City associates.

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59 Comments

Anon

Technically all STB has said is that there will be London salary increases, not that London will use the new US scale exactly. Who knows what that means for take-home.

K&E has been clear that this new US scale will apply in London, albeit using 205k rather than this ridiculous 202.5k stub year figure. Other US firms in London have done the same.

(12)(3)

Chad

London office has been on the US scale for a few years now

(3)(0)

US 1PQE

STB have confirmed the rates internally in London and it is £146k for NQs.

(9)(0)

Anon 2

Do not join K&E – they are constantly stealth laying off people to save face as a result of losing business to competitors.

The K&E salaried partners are also nothing but Associates and lack credibility in the market because they have no clients of their own.

If you have a choice, go to another firm unless you’re desperate and have no where to go!

(20)(15)

PE World

Lol at this comment.

K&E is on a league of its own for PE work (in this times, the most prestigious and profitable).

No one is stealth laying anyone at K&E.

Salaried partners often make equity in a few years, and they start on a £400k-500k base salary range.

Are there any real professional even commenting on here?

(17)(14)

WTS

They are stealth laying off.

(4)(1)

Jesus christ.

This comment is worse that people loving K&E. This person has no idea what they’re on about. K&E could lose as much work as it wanted to in PE, and it would still have a larger market share than its competitors.

(8)(2)

Anon

About a dozen K&E non-share partners have left in the past 12-24 months and gone straight into the equity at STB, Linklaters, HSF, Goodwin, Ropes, Dechert, Proskauer, etc. If that’s “not being taken seriously” then sign me up.

(10)(1)

Anon 3

They left being “partners” at K&E precisely because it is a meaningless title at K&E and have gone to firms where partnership actually means something. They will be out the door if they can’t bring in clients at the firms they’ve moved to.

Further, the fact that dozens of “partners” have left K&E in such a short timeframe really says a lot about how bad the situation is at K&E.

(2)(1)

Hopeful

Come on Goodwin…. though they just raised 1Y pay to £137.5K earlier this year so am doubtful if they’ll have the increased rates apply in London

(2)(0)

GQ

It doesn’t seem like Skadden has confirmed the same pay for their Associates in London

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Finally someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Fun fact: 69% of people who comment on Legal Cheek think the DX is a rapper.

(2)(0)

US 1PQE

As an NQ at any of STB, K&E, Skadden, Davis Polk et al, you are now earning all in comp of approx. £160 – £165k – absolutely crazy. After two years you’ll earning over £200k (with bonuses).

The 2PQE levels of comp at a US firm now are what you would earn 6/7 years in at a UK equivalent. Unless you are in a small advisory team (such as real estate, employment, IP etc) don’t kid yourselves, you will be billing 2000+ hours at a UK firm and your hours will be comparable.

‘Prestige’ doesn’t buy you a house.

(43)(3)

Realest Realist

Okay congrats. This is literally the 6th or 7th time this conversation has been had in the last 2 weeks. LC posting the same articles, the same comments are posted and everyone pretends they are something they aren’t. Quite boring now.

(18)(1)

US 1PQE

Cool story bro

(3)(0)

Fresher Watch Ltd.

Piss off back to your textbooks son, final first year exam coming up Monday next week.

(3)(2)

Alan

Your house won’t get you your 20s back.

(9)(0)

Hopes & Chardonnay

Ropes about to blow these goons out of the water.

(2)(3)

anon

Ropes have already announced they will just match Davis. Not sure what you were expecting from Ropes of all places

(2)(0)

Anon

“Just match Davis” ~ trainee solicitor, Foot Anstey (Bristol branch)

(19)(1)

1PQE

Ropes won’t raise above any of these salaries….

(0)(1)

US Associate

… above £146k? Doubtful.

(0)(0)

Unlikely

Isn’t Ropes only on £130k at the moment? That would be a big jump to £146k.

(0)(0)

Derrick

Cadwalada also about to go beyond this apparently 150k nq wedge is rumoired.

(0)(5)

Bombay Bad Boy

No it isn’t. Cad have matched David Polk scale and already informed London lawyers, which you would know if you were one of them.

(13)(1)

go away

Don’t we all aspire to work at *checks notes* Cadwalader…

(7)(1)

Cicero

‘the unusually weak dollar obscures the full impact of the rises.’

It’s actually the unusually weak sterling against the dollar which has inflated salaries that are pegged to the dollar.

Given Biden’s proposed $6 trillion spending package, it’s likely the dollar will weaken further and could possibly return, over the next few years, to $1.6 dollars to the pound (the level it was at for many years pre-Brexit vote).

If that happened, $202,500 would work out as around £126,500. Still a very sizeable salary and 25% more than the top paying MC. However, note that the marginal rate of income tax on your earnings between £100k-120k is so substantial because of losing your tax-free Personal Allowance that there’s not much of a difference in take-home pay. As others have said though, the real difference is the money that can be made at US firms at 2PQE+ levels.

(9)(2)

Anon

Nah. I remember when £1 = $1.2. I’ll take my £170k tyvm.

(5)(2)

go away

*You* will take?
As someone who posts on LC at 11 am on a weekday?

Yeah kid, give it a break.

(5)(2)

Anon

Yeah it’s called just finishing the LPC and having a few months until my TC starts in September. “Will” is future tense. Mug.

(11)(6)

Absolute King.

Sleep easy 👑

Fresher Watch Ltd.

That’s it little fresher, keep striving for that TC and make sure to drop some quality LinkedIn “MondayMotivation” posts while you’re at it.

#dreambig #nevergiveup #onlygodcanjudgeme

Anon

“Given Biden’s proposed $6 trillion spending package, it’s likely the dollar will weaken further”. Maybe. Or the US could raise interest rates, as the Fed has already said they will do in the coming years, and global capital will flow back into treasuries. The dollar would rise in that scenario. Hence the bump in the greenback over the past couple of days since Powell’s statement. Or the spending package will supercharge US domestic growth and global capital will flow back into other dollar assets to capture that growth. The dollar would rise in that scenario too.

LC should stay out of macroeconomic predictions, I think. Nobody really knows.

(8)(0)

Fixed FX in London

No US firm has a constantly fluctuating salary pegged to the dollar.

It does not matter if the rate is 1:1 or 1:2. Once salaries are “fixed” they remain so for the year or several months at least.

So the new salary for big law in London is now officially in the range of £143-146k (depending on which FX the firms adopt).

(0)(1)

John

This is incorrect. Kirkland’s salary fluctuates monthly.

(11)(0)

PE World

Very good showing. STB is probably the most elite PE firm in London.

(11)(2)

go away

Yawn. Can’t we have a single US firm salary article that summarises all of these increases instead of a drip-feeding of the same boring content that only excites second-year Durham students?

(9)(14)

REALLY, go away

Ok buddy, time’s up. Best return to that land law textbook before Monday’s summer exam instead of rehashing a dead persona on every article posted on here.

And who knows? Do well in your exams and you might well find yourself getting excited at this sort of content next year

(23)(2)

Oliver

Do Simpson thatcher do TC? And what’s the salary for their paralegals? Please sir I want some more 🥺

(1)(2)

roc

No TCs, and good luck getting in as an NQ…

(0)(0)

Poipoi

The average lifespan of an STB associate is 2 years. Between 3-5 PQE, most ex-STBers have moved in-house e.g to a mega fund. They still make very good money and work more reasonable hours, but it’s closer to 120k + bonus (around 15-20%) and a 9-7, no weekends.

It is a short term proposition for high pre tax earnings. The amount you save is proportional to how long you survive. The funds work is very good, but juniors have low responsibility doing just MFN elections and ancillaries. Corporate work is very good and no doc review, but you will be beasted. The culture of beasting normalises it so you feel able to work endless hours because everyone else does it, and it is expected of you. Being in the office past 6 at a mid market London firm feels like a chore for the same reasons.

(10)(2)

Anon

No midmarket firm will let people leave before 6

(8)(0)

Anon

Just completely false – the majority of STB’s funds associates are between 2-6 PQE. One associate (from a team of about 30) in the last 2 years has moved in-house. The rest have all stayed.

(0)(0)

Pipoi

Not only is it true, anyone who has LinkedIn Premium can search previous company as STB to see that it is true. A search will also reveal lots of associates including from funds who have left in the last 2 years. I trust this assists.

(2)(2)

Anon

Willkie Willkie Willkie! Pillsbury Pillsbury Pillsbury! Oi Oi Oi!

(0)(0)

Curious George

Which other US firms have done this that LegalCheek have (as usual) failed to report?

(0)(0)

BB reality check

Still seeing a bunch of legal gimps arguing over chump change.

Daily reminder that senior associates & VPs at BBs out-earn any US law firm gimp and don’t even have to work the same hours. As for the LPC? Oh yeah, we were making money that year, not studying. Lol.

But carry on with your amusing gimp conversations

(2)(2)

FACTS

You have no idea what compensation is like at BBs.

VPs are on a £150-180 base and with MAX bonus pool of 100% their base (almost never assigned in full).

So, truth is that BigLaw pays the same if not slightly move without better hours and environment hands down.

(2)(1)

Chancery Barrister

Are BB gimps earn a fraction of what chancery barristers earn, and work quadruple the hours, have less holidays, have bosses, are less respected, have less interesting work and work in a more toxic environment.

Get back to work you sloppy excel monkey.

(0)(0)

Anon

What about Blackstone, KKR, CVC and Bridgepoint suggests 9-7 and no weekends? If you’ve ever worked on deals for any of these you’ll find them chasing you in the evenings and weekends, not sitting back wondering how it all happens in the background.

(1)(0)

Porto

They do work those 9-7 hours. Firstly, it’s legal counsel chasing, not principals who have usually little involvement on the legals. Second, it takes little effort to send an email chaser from your iphone. Third, just because you’re working those hours, doesn’t mean they are – in-house counsel are given pressure by the principals to manage externals especially on big projects; a common trainee / junior mistake is to think that these guys are actually working super hard, the stuff you are doing as external legal counsel is a bigger event to them, it’s not always like that for them, it’s always like that for you. There’s stuff that happens internally you’re not sighted on i.e. counsel will be asked for updates internally on how things are progressing on Monday at a 11am status call, so they’ll chasing you on the weekend for something coherent they can reassure everyone with.

For the most part, it’s a 9-6-7 working day, but whilst there can be peaks and troughs, usually you are busy and not sitting around twiddling your thumbs. You’ll also earn a lot less. 120k at 3-4 PQE + bonus is optimistic and bordering on mega fund territory – but it’s all subject to negotiation. You could be on 100k as a 3PQE at a multi billion $ asset manager. You could be on 300k+ at 7PQE if you come over as director through a client relationship to certain funds easy.

(1)(4)

Anon

Ex was a senior associate analyst at Blackstone and he certainly didn’t work 9-7, more like 8am to 8pm. And yes he did work EVERY single weekend, and I mean EVERY. The worse thing was he loved his hours as it was better than when he was in IB. So, I don’t know where you lot get your private equity insights from but none of it is true. Not for Blackstone anyway.Also, that isn’t true that only legal counsel instruct. He often spoke about meeting with Simpson and CC and even DLA for some estate deal (bearing in mind he’s only a senior associate (which is equivalent to a 4-5PQE). So they are actually very involved even at a fairly junior level.

Also 120k?!!! Where are you getting these figures from? He was on 220k plus bonus and they actually DO get 80%-100%, not everyone did but he certainly did and spent most of our relationship boasting about it.

People really do come on this site and chat absolute ****.

(5)(0)

curioussss

How much does a junior Partner earn at a MC firm? Any ballpark figure, please? PEP of a MC firm is in Millions which really seems too much for a junior partner-earning in his early days

(0)(0)

PE World

Anything in the range of £200-250k depending on the MC.

Funnily enough, £250k+ is now the base salary for senior associates at US firms…

(1)(2)

Anon

Depends which one. Ranges from the salary of a US NQ to the salary of a US NQ (+ bonus).

(2)(0)

IB tho

£800k

(1)(1)

Common Sense Man with a Common Sense Opinion!

All that dosh sounds alright but you’d have to work for a company whose first name is named after Homer Simpson and second name is Margaret THACHER!!!! Lol!!!

(3)(1)

Pedant

Margaret Thatcher is spelt with a ‘t’…just saying.

(6)(0)

Anon

Collective sigh from the MC

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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