Vinson & Elkins pushes London NQ salaries above £153k as it confirms trainee retention score

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5 out of 6 rookies stay put

US law firm Vinson & Elkins has upped the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London and confirmed its autumn 2021 trainee retention score.

Newly made up associates will now receive a staggering pay packet of £153,400, up 4% from an already impressive £147,500. V&E says the new and improved base rate is effective from 1 July and matches those of its US rivals in London.

Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows the Houston-founded outfit dishes out just six UK training contracts each year, with trainees earning £50,000 in year one and £55,000 in year two.

Separately, V&E confirmed it will retain five out of six trainees (83%) due to qualify this autumn. The firm made all six offers but one trainee declined theirs to pursue their preferred specialism elsewhere.

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Two NQs will join the firm’s mergers and acquisitions and capital markets team, one starts associate life in energy transactions and projects, another qualifies into complex commercial litigation practice, and the final NQ joins V&E’s finance team.

V&E partner and training principal, Andrew Nealon, said:

“We are delighted that we were able to extend an NQ offer to all of our qualifiers. We are incredibly proud of them all and their ability to thrive in a new working environment. We look forward to seeing our qualifiers continue to excel in their new positions.”

A host of US firms have increased their NQ cash offerings in recent days, with Sidley Austin and Simpson Thacher bumping UK rates to £148,500 and £147,000 (dollar to pound conversion), respectively.

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Ted Hastings

Mother of God.



Any mention of Links raising NQ any time soon?


Links Trainee

They raised it from 90-92.5k prior to this latest round of raises – wouldn’t hold your breath given the Gideon Moore’s public stance that juniors are paid too much



I’m quite pleased he said it – somebody needed to. This is getting ridiculous now.



That guy must have had an insane offer to reject this pay packet…


Friends and family enjoyer

Or a life…


PE World


Does anyone know why their NQ salary is so much higher than all the rest of the US bunch which now all sit in the range of £143-147?



All US firms are (or soon will be) on the same pay scale in USD but they set different FX rates (or in K&E’s case use a floating spot rate).

That’s why K&E has paid top of market for the last few years given the weak pound but now pays effectively pays less than other US firms.



That Texas-sized ego, that’s why! I wouldn’t be surprised if Baker Botts is silently matching this too.

They represent big oil and the funders of big oil. It’s a primary market for them and therefore will bill insane rates. It’s also a method for them to compete with the Wall Street firms without having the same Wall Street heritage. Need to seduce them HYS law grads in the US and Oxbridge grads in the UK somehow.


PE World

Oil clients not as profitable as they used to be! The “big” billing is now mostly with Sponsor clients or ultra-high net worth family offices



It’s funny you say that, because barely any (if any at all) of Vinson’s trainees are from Oxbridge. You can look it up. And Oxbridge students will apply. Classic example of the incorrect exaggeration of the importance of the university for a career in city law.


LSE Grad

Well said. I really don’t know what is up with these Oxbridge nerds. Commercial law is for the movers and shakers, not nerds that can’t speak in public but know ancient latin and can recite War and Peace by heart.



Did you cry when you received your Oxbridge rejection letter?


LOL at Anon at 5:26pm – you downvoted my comment about Vinson’s trainees 20 times. That’s the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in a while. I’m guessing you’re also the one who spam downvoted all the comments on the university article, too?
What do you even do, downvote and then refresh the page, and downvote again? Do you not have anything better to do?



Has Baker Botts matched this? Holy moly to work at that firm…


Baker Beanns LLP

Lmao piss off with some kaka shet firm no one’s ever heard of.



It is a really elite outfit…no joke that most law grads would sell their gran down the river for a spot…


“It is a really elite outfit…no joke that most law grads would sell their gran down the river for a spot…”

Yea ok sure 😀 😀 😀 😀


Baker Botts marketing team going crazy



Because it you know anything about the industry you will know why. Oil and gas is a dying industry and V&E is a crap firm who is trying desperately to broaden their practice. They have to hike up salaries to gain interest.

No one interested in a long term career finds themselves at Vinson Elkins. Recruiters hate having to recruit for this firm.


Going Strong

Their London office does not rely on oil & gas work. They have some impressive sponsor clients hence why they are doing so well, headcount has shot up the past years.

source: I apparently know the London legal market a bit better



@going strong, why do you even bother replying to someone who consider a firm offering 153k to NQs a crap firm? Let him go back studying.



Other US firms will match



No they won’t. US firms are not going to start a pay war in London which would result in their London-based associates being paid materially more than their US-based counterparts.

The V&E NQ pay is an anomaly due to their generous USD:GBP exchange rate. They’re not going to steal talent from other US firms based on a few extra £k.


A&O Banking NQ

Perhaps US NQs get 60+% more after-bonus pay than us, but do they get the same sense of pride and accomplishment closing low margin Islamic finance, ESG and blockchain deals? I think not.



Nor do they get the same pride from having gender and ethnicity targets for equity partner promotions. So far only the UK firms have awoken to the fairness of that.


MC = the elite

A&O does the same top-tier work US firms do. In fact, probably A&O does more groundbreaking deals in the EMEA continent compared to US firms.

The only difference being that a 360 degrees offering entails having less profitable departments.

Plus it’s WAY easier to make partner at an MC, so in the long run it might be the best option.

Chin up my friend!


US Mid Level

I agree that Vinson & Elkins is a “crap” firm that would not be getting a look in were it not for its pay. Those that I’ve come across from that firm seem to believe that they are God’s gift to legal practice, when in reality they are, in my view, a bunch of cowboys.



Would you be set up for life doing 5-6 years as an associate at this firm or will it still be necessary to work in law forever?



P.S. serious answers only plz.



Depends on what is your “set for life”. This is still just under £90k net a year which, to be honest, in London does not make you a baller. You would probably save around £40-60k a year depending on your spending habits and lifestyle. Again, not a lot of money….



Plus minimum 40k into your pension per year.



Why are you people so deranged? Saving 40-60k a year is a shedload of money…


Time Lord

Realist typed this in 1987.


Curious Caleb

Genuine Q re working in law forever – what do people who want to escape law (and other boring things such as finance) actually go on to do which is reasonably remunerated?

Don’t say teaching (not reasonably remunerated).


Career changer

OF. If you know, you know.


Reluctant Feeder

Allow me to briefly boost your ego by asking what OF is


Content creator

A subscription service where people such as myself can earn money from users who subscribe to their content – the “fans”.


A solicitor of a different sort



If you save well you can end up in a very strong position. E.g. pay the mortgage for a central 1/2 bed flat. Doesn’t sound like much but owning property in London is a big deal. Could then get a job in house with better hours, not have to pay rent, save more, and end up buying somewhere nicer later on.
Whilst US firm salaries are heavily taxed, it does allow that. It would take a lot longer on a U.K. firm salary.

Ultimately though if you want a cushy lifestyle you want to be partnered up with someone also earning a lot of money.


US associate

You’re correct. Ultimately, the real money comes from becoming an equity partner. As nice as the associate salaries are, they are in no way setting you up for life or even providing much more than a comfortable life in London. If you want a nice pad for a couple of million and a new Range Rover you need to be a partner.



It’s a slick office there too. Shame the work is dull as dishwater, but still a sexy whack.



I rather be a pop star or insta influencer and become a millionaire that way.



All the top US firms have announced for this year. Just a few to go. Wonder if NRF/ will raise to compete with these shops.


My fave Aerosmith song is

Dream on.



I dont think Skadden has announced yet.


PE World

Not to the market but internally apparently. There was someone commenting about this on another thread. They went £140k+ not sure on the amount.


There is always a bigger fish

*K&E associate has left the chat*


Vinson insider (calm down I'm only secretary)

Yes but rumour also has it billing targets have gone up disproportionately to the salary increase



Your heart health is not worth this much money considering how little power you will have over schedule and workload at this stage in your career.


Fat cat

You must work at Shoosmiths


Macs Trainee

Macs increased to 99k. Travers and Bakers you gonna match?


Macs Associate

No such confirmation has been received.





Ex-US lawyer

Life in a transactional department at a US firm is hellish, and only tolerated by humourless workaholics. I took a nearly 50% paycut to move from a large US firm to the London office of a regional outfit post-qualification, and I have never been happier. I can actually log off at the weekends or on holiday, I don’t have partners turning comments on 300-page facilities agreements at 9pm and expecting me to have new drafts by 8:30am the next day, and I can actually tolerate the people I work for. And as a 25 year old I earn substantially more than double the national average salary too.



Weird way to flex that you earn a measly 85k. Do better.


US lawyer

It annoys me when people generalise about US firms like this. They are the same as SC/MC outfits in terms of workload (in a transactional department). Repeat that after me.

You could have made the same comment, replacing the words “US” with “MC”. City life at a MC/SC/US firm is not for you – we get that. But don’t tar all US firms with a broad brush here.


tired bill

your whataboutism doesn’t work, the fact that MC firms sometimes beast their associates doesn’t make US firms any less sweaty and burnout-inducing …


Here to take over

Working hard is not hard when you are young and have no commitments. Now is the time to work crazy hours and save, not when you’re 30+ with a family.

Don’t see the appeal of being free all the time. What would I do, sit around and watch Netflix? You can still see people, relax and gym at US firms. How much free time do you need? How much play time?

Not trolling. Apologies if this comes as a bit direct, but most people bashing the US firms lifestyle just seem a bit lazy to me. What else do you want to do when you’re so young but grind, be pushed to improve, and make decent money?



“What else do you want to do when you’re young but grind”. I bet you’re fun a parties

I don’t know maybe young people want to actually enjoy their youth, these are the years you build up your friendships, meet your partner, get married, travel, discover your hobbies, go out and enjoy city life etc. Not everyone wants to remember their 20s are being chained to their desk.


get a life x

Posts like this out you as an unimaginative dullard. We should thank the US firms for keeping you and your ilk physically isolated from the rest of the 20-something graduates in London.



How boring a person are you that you can’t think of a single meaningful thing to do with your free time besides make more money.



dude you’re a student and you’re making posts with “here to take over”

here to take over what exactly – the Warwick Law Society Treasurer role?


US trainee

He has a point though. I didn’t work that hard at university and I didn’t work hard on the LPC. I spent the entire time ‘enjoying life’ and all that entails. I have a partner, I have a close circle of friends, and I don’t feel particularly stressed out.
You’re halfway through your twenties by the time you start working hard at a city firm. You’ve had plenty of time to relax. It’s a bit sad if you’re into your late twenties/early thirties and trying to live like an undergraduate.
Another pro is that, in a few year’s time, I will have very decent exit opportunities, opportunities that afford a greater work-life balance.

Compare this with an associate at a more ‘relaxed’ firm or whatever you call it… I doubt they have a super chilled-out, sociable time if I’m honest. And they’ll be working far longer in a very dull job with fewer exit opportunities.

The best piece of advice – start at the best law firm you can. It’s easy to move down, near impossible to move up.


Here to take over

@US trainee: No use discussing with this bunch. They all want to “play” during the week. Like, what kind of extremely fun and creative activities will you be doing on a Tuesday evening at 9pm? Seriously.

I don’t get the appeal of not working hard, be the best person you can. You are young and have virtually no meaningful commitments and/or chains. There will be always, and I mean always, time for social activities on the side – even at the most elite IB/Biglaw shops.

You do not need to forego meeting with friends, dating, keeping in shape and also travelling when you take leave. Just don’t see why you would want to play all the time in your 20s like teenagers.

You won’t be so carefree when you’re 35+ with 10k in your bank account and no real long-term prospects.

Ex-US lawyer

I don’t think your last comment is true at all, actually. At my former (US) employer there were a lot of lateral hires from very middling law firms, including Scottish and regional offices. The common denominator was that these people were extremely ambitious and extremely hard-working. No harm there – I admire them a lot, they were good lawyers, and they were usually significantly nicer than the ones who trained here.

With regards the rest – congratulations on getting a balance I guess. It’s rare, and it’s contingent on having good partners who don’t overload you with work, and having enough associates to do the work. At my firm partners had zero interest in their associates having a life outside work, and due to the miserable conditions associates were constantly leaving (piling even more work onto the ones who stayed).

As for living like an undergraduate, I’m not asking for that. Just the chance to see my wife most evenings, to meet friends for dinner maybe once or twice a week, or to not have to cancel holiday plans I’d had for six months because a partner doesn’t know how to say no to his favourite PE client. In fact, the only people in the City I see behaving like undergrads are the associates at places like K&E or Latham who love going out to trashy nightclubs, ordering bottles of pointlessly expensive alcohol, and then turning up hungover at 9am in the morning the next day to turn documents.


Some of my friends got jobs straight out of school and have worked since. It’s not a God-given right to have a crazy, carefree time in your twenties. If you want money and a comfortable standard of living later in life, and more importantly, freedom, you can’t have both.
Welcome to the real world you hippies

Not an “Ex” US Lawyer

Mate you’re 25. What did you manage, like 1 year in a US firm? Sounds like you tried, failed miserably and the slinked away to hang out at some second rate firm with zero prospects.


A warning to the curious

Or you could do Legal Aid work which was interesting but where you would literally be better off on benefits.

I’ve had criminal clients on benefits who live in a bigger house than I can afford to rent and have their rent paid by the state.


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