More MoneyLaw! Skadden boosts London junior lawyer pay to £144k

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8% rise

Skadden is the latest major US law firm to boost the already hefty salaries of its junior lawyers in London.

The New York-headquartered outfit’s newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will now receive a pay packet of £144,000 — a rise of 8% from £133,000.

The new and improved rate sees Skadden’s UK lot leapfrog their opposite numbers at the likes of Davis Polk (£135k), Shearman & Sterling (£135k), and close in on US competitors such as Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins (both around £145k).

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows the firm recruits just 12 trainees each year on a starting salary of £50,000. Pay jumps to £55,000 in year two, before rocking to the new £144k rate upon qualification.

A host of US firms have upped their cash offerings in recent months as they look to put further distance between themselves and their UK rivals on the pay league ladder.

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PE World

Macfarlanes has upped NQ pay as well. The Lawyer has just posted today.

Thoughts on Skadden London btw?



Macs at 90k base 100k with bonus pretty much guaranteed and 48-52.5k for trainees. Decent but feels like they’re holding back because of MC.



Yes. That same article in The Lawyer also reported that Simmons have upped their NQ to £88k (£56k in Bristol).

Fair play to them. They announced a salary hike back in November to £84k and then they’ve seen the likes of BCLP and DLA raise to £88k and responded. They haven’t waited to November



Unbelievable … Macs is now matching Slaughters



When is Freshfields announcing the £120k NQ salary?





Proper 12

Pay of 12 people expected to reverberate around the country


Forever Associate

Maybe not, but when you consider the total number of NQs at the “MoneyLaw” firms, this accounts to somewhere between 7% and 10% of available NQ roles in London. This is not an irrelevant amount when you consider they are being paid at least 100% more than half of all London NQs, and closer to 3.5X the UK average NQ salary (~4X if you remove London figures from the national average).

Yes, the practice areas are very different, but this disparity in pay is unbelievable. If you look at other professionals the pay difference is not as extreme. Accountants for example: London wages are typically 29% higher than regional.

This indicates to me that the vast majority of UK firms are undervaluing their junior solicitors by either drastically under-billing their services to justify low wages and/or are taking advantage of decades of wage stagnation. Every NQ should also look at their billable targets and ask themselves if their firm is sticking to the traditional professional services model (3rd for remuneration, 3rd for expenses, 3rd for profit) or are exploiting them.


Stock Trader

Do US firm salaries fluctuate every month with FX or are they pegged for a period of time?


US guy

Depends on the firm. Some peg to the dollar, some don’t. Some fix the rate on a set basis (i.e. quarterly) and some float freely month-to-month (within the confines of any set limits).



Yeah but it’s miserable



What’s Skadden like as a firm? Good work culture compared to the other US firms or nah? Any good seats? Is it Oxbridge dominated or do you have a chance with a decent Russell Group?



The most prestigious of sweatshops. Once you escape and tell others about your time there they’ll think/know you’re the hardest guy/gal on the gulag block/sweatshop break room



Sorry but not a sweat shop. One of the most prestigious big law institutions worldwide (so obviously expect tough hours). Other than that, top clients hence top deals and, ultimately, unparalleled work for lawyers of any seniority.

By definition, the polar opposite of a “sweat shop”. I take it you’re probably a high street firm lawyer from the regions?



“ I take it you’re probably a high street firm lawyer from the regions?”

Yes, I am. And if you know that that means you’re the bloke who connected with me on LinkedIn the other day asking for work experience who I had to gently tell that your BTECs weren’t good enough. You’ll make a great PT though x





Rekt them lol

The Moneyshot

Ooooh this is exciting – a new stock image to look at!



Yeah lol they finally got rid of that cringey guy looking up at pouring cash






Overtaken by CMS, DLA Piper and Pinsents. Not even a glorified national firm anymore sadly.


rishu patel

wow im really excited to hear this news thank-you



Genuine question here: does an increase in the NQ salary correspond with trainees starting their 2 year training contracts being older in their mid to late 20’s?



Not even remotely.

Pay will always be a balance between what the firm can afford by the virtue of their billables and a requirement to attract talent in the given market.

Post 2008 there has been significant suppression of trainee/junior salaries as all at once there was an abundance of LLB/GDL/LPC grads and a significant reduction in available TC roles. It was an employer’s market. But now, thanks to the psycho billing culture and resulting profitability of US firms, expectations are being readjusted.


Durham Trainee

Any news on Pillsbury or Baker Botts?



P*ss off with these kaka obscure shops mate 😂🤡



“close in on US competitors such as Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins (both around £145k)”

Latham pays £141k. You literally have no idea, do you?


Sc nerd

Anyone know why Jones Day salary is so low for a us firm



it is not necessarily “undervaluing” or “under”-billing – the CMS/Pinsents/AGs of this world will be relying on a lot of panel/commoditized work that simply cannot command the same level of fees and recovery. If CMS over-quotes for x large Plc property transaction, AG will do it instead. As you acknowledge the clients are also different and in the PE world it is very much “investor pays” – the client effectively passes the cost on within reason.



You couldn’t pay me enough to work in that sweatshop.


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