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Goodwin ups London NQ pay to £147k — second rise this year

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Up 7% from £137,500

US law firm Goodwin has upped the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London for the second time this year.

The outfit’s freshly minted juniors have been handed a 7% pay increase, taking salaries from an already impressive £137,500, to an eye-watering £147,000. The extra cash comes just months after Goodwin upped NQ pay by 10% to £137,500 in February.

And unlike some US firms, it’s understood the revised six-figure sum is not pegged to the dollar and is therefore protected against currency fluctuations.

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Trainee salaries currently sit at £46,000 in year one and £50,000 in year two, although these rates are expected to be reviewed later this year.

A host of US firms have upped their cash offerings in recent months as they look to assert their dominance on the UK legal market. The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows a host of firms now offer rookies upwards of £145,000 upon qualification, with Vinson & Elkins topping the table with an NQ rate of £153,400.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

40 Comments

Jax

The price to sell your soul? Then a few years later move to being a legal counsel after the realisation it may not be worth it?

(42)(3)

Anon

You have to sell your soul at all these firms, including the English ones. May as well be paid the most for doing it

(52)(8)

Xaj

You do realise this is a very common (and not a bad) career choice? I don’t see why so many people are against going to a firm, working your *** off for a few years, making bank in the process, then moving somewhere a bit better but less pay after you’ve set yourself up with a nice wad of cash?

(42)(13)

Anon

Also why is leaving after a few years interpreted as “realising it was a mistake”? As an MC mid associate strongly tempted to move to a US firm, the idea from the start would be to make a lot more money for a few years before leaving.

(28)(3)

Anon

I hate to say it, but these comments will almost certainly be posted by people who fail to get into these firms. I think most sane students interested in a career in commercial law would choose to train at the best firm they can get into, and often the ‘best firms’ work you very hard, that’s the nature of the beast.

(27)(14)

Jax

I said “realisation may not be worth it” you quoted “realising it was a mistake” these are two different meanings. Have some attention to detail please.

(6)(7)

Query

Why can’t that be the goal? Get experience in private practise for a few years, then move in-house for a better life and still a decent amount of money, and have an in-house career… In-house isn’t what it used to be (i.e. a place for failed private practise lawyers), it’s a decent legitimate career option nowadays

(31)(0)

Anonymous

£147k to do donkey work. I bet NQs at smaller firms have a lot more responsibility, albeit get paid a fraction.

(9)(21)

Anon

Not true, early responsibility is encouraged

(7)(19)

Anon

More to do with being responsive at all times and the deal value. Small firms deal with millions, big firms with billions so hardly surprising their billables and salaries are higher.

(24)(2)

LC

Absolute nonsense. US firms give huge levels of responsibility, particularly in areas like funds where the work is technical and highly commercial at all levels.

(13)(42)

Anon

You had me until the end. Back to negotiating efforts standards in side letters you go.

(42)(2)

Realist

A lot of haters on here in denial about US firms offering more responsibility and building confidence earlier on.

(13)(4)

No.

Firms aren’t stupid (unlike the comment). They don’t pay NQs these sums to do the work of a secretary or paralegal.

(13)(3)

Anon

Shouldn’t the final sentence in the second paragraph be ‘The extra cash comes just months after Goodwin upped NQ pay by 10% from (not to) £125,000 in February’?

(9)(3)

Jax

This is only possible if people at the firm are leaving creating trickle down cash available to everyone.

(17)(11)

Anon

Or it’s a highly profitable firm that can afford to pay its staff at the prevailing market rate from time to time. I guess that’s another wild possibility.

(17)(15)

Jax

People have been steadily leaving, one associate is off to be a partner at another American firm, a partner left a month ago. A few associates (around 3) have left to become legal counsels. Every June/July this happens.

(21)(1)

Anon

And yet Goodwin still do not appear on LC’s Most List!!!

(12)(2)

aNON

YEAH – WHY IS THIS?

(1)(0)

Anon

Alongside huge bonuses and £35,000 sign on bonuses

(7)(17)

Still waiting for Freshfields

Training contract deadline is in a few weeks 🙁

(4)(16)

Rupert

Chicken feed, dear boy.

(2)(12)

Anon

For the record Goodwin Procter rebranded as Goodwin in 2016

(6)(2)

But...

Target hours have been increased to 1,950.

(38)(2)

Jax

How does that compare to other places? (American and Magic Circle)

(0)(0)

Anon

It just means that they are pretty much pre-paying part of the bonus. Before, it was around 1,800 I believe and then you hit that and get an extra £10-15k (at NQ level). Now that extra £10-15k won’t come until you hit 1,950. Probably 50% will hit at least 1,950 I think at NQ level.

(18)(0)

Realest Realist

Useful insight. These firms really are quite sneaky.

(3)(0)

Anon

Yes – but bonuses have also gone up significantly (in addition to COVID bonuses of up to $64k, there’s regular bonuses which can more than match COVID bonuses). So if you hit 1950 (which almost all associates are doing – it’s not that difficult), you get guaranteed higher salary plus a higher bonus. Not really sneaky at all.

(5)(13)

Yawn

It depends on your practice area etc.

If you’re there in M&A, big deal. You’ll survive 2-3 years and will move somewhere else or in-house by 5PQE.

You’ll make decent money for 3-5 years at US firms, but if you’re doing transactional, you’re at the office and on call all the time. And the work sucks – it is mindnumbing. The M&A team basically got chucked out of K&E and weren’t profitable, went to Sidley where they equally couldn’t hack it and then off recently to Goodwin. They have like one profitable client, Towerbrook.

If you don’t care, are happy to spend 14 hours a day form filling and doing secretarial tasks, and don’t care about a life outside work (or are highly organised) then it’s a fine deal.

If you’re there in an advisory area with steady hours, it’s a great life off the bat.

(37)(2)

Anon

Goodwin is a great place to work, friendly culture and down to earth and approachable partners

(8)(42)

Trainee Recruitment Team at McDonald's and Colonel Sanders' LLP

Back to your open day applications.

(5)(1)

The Colonel

Kentucky Fried Trainee?

(1)(0)

Anon

As an associate that works there, I completely agree. Culture fantastic, great team spirit and on the whole, empathetic considerate partners.

(5)(9)

Anon

How is it sneaky? If you expect US market salary, expect US market hours. When Goodwin paid under market in London, hourly targets being under market made sense.

(13)(1)

Anon

This comments section reeks of soo much jealously and contempt. US firms are simply better. Period. Comments always debate UK vs US, the same drivel gets repeated continuously, and then the debate always comes back to a singularity where someone makes a comment about US firms that no one can really disagree with. The work life balance defence makes no sense anymore. The prestige defence is irrelevant, if not completely wrong. US firms have a higher salary, more intelligent colleagues, pay you a bigger bonus, and provide better exit opportunities if you know where to look. Its as simple as that. If you’re an aspiring 20 year old, why on earth would you pick the MC over a US firm (unless you like bigger teams). Make some actual money for a few years, jump the ship and live the rest of your life in absolute comfort – pursuing whatever it is you find meaningful and interesting for the vast majority of your life.

(7)(16)

Yawn

I have worked in US firms for 5 years. I probably would have spoken like you are university. When you grow up, you will realise the world isn’t such a binary place.

Good people go to lots of different places; there are great lawyers in regional firms and poor ones in US firms.

You also need to appreciate how U.K. tax works. It doesn’t affect you now working in your local Asda, but the gross figures are much more limited than they appear prima facile and you lose your personal allowance.

If you are doing leveraged finance or securitisation at an MC firm, then a US firm would probably be a better bet; you will probably work longer, but you’ll make more. However most US firms won’t make you up to partner, and will sack you after 5PQE so it may be better to stay where you are comfortable with better long term opportunities. You also need to put your CV out at the right time of year at the right time in the process for a firm looking at your level, and get partners who think you’ll be a good fit both in terms of personality and experience. There’s more an element of luck.

If you want to do advisory or litigation, there are few spots going at US firms, and the quality of the work is often a bit rubbish; advisory tends to be letterbox and transactional support.

Most people are not going to sack off a reg role at Eversheds to go to a US firm. The additional cash doesn’t do anything for you. You have the same mortgage on your 2 bed flat. You have enough money for holidays, food and clothes, and everything you want. You are saving. You’ll just save 40k more a year at a US firm. A lot. But your quality of life doesn’t get better. It gets worse. Billing 2000 hours instead of 1500, ( and every hour over 1500-1600 hurts more and more), and eventually less, if no, remote working in a stressful instead of stress free environment.

Equally a US reg associate isn’t going to sack off the firm to go to Eversheds. They’ve moved for the money and they’ll pump it for at least 2-3 years until they have had enough or are sacked. Then they’ll go for Eversheds or Simmons.

When US senior associates become partner at U.K. firms they usually take a 100k pay cut. That’s still career progression.

There’s a lot you don’t know.

(24)(4)

Anon

I always find the prestige argument funny. Usually more impressed by people at firms like Latham than the MC. MC lawyers are cookie-cutter – private school/top grammar, onto Oxbridge/RG (usually studying English or History), law conversion, live with the parents in London, cash in. Can’t say they blow me away with their incredible ability or work ethic.

(3)(9)

Anon

The figures don’t seem accurate.. NQ pay is fixed at £148,500 not £147,000. And target hours remain at 1,850.

(2)(1)

Anon

Goodwin upped NQ pay from £137,500 to £148,500 and not £147,000…. where r u getting your figures from LC

(3)(1)

Comments are closed.

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