NQ solicitor salaries move to £85k at Squire Patton Boggs

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9% uplift

Squire Patton Boggs (SPB) has become the latest international law firm to boost the salaries of its junior lawyers.

The outfit, which is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, has upped rates to £85,000 for newly qualified (NQ) associates in London. This equates to a healthy rise of £7,000, or 9%, with salaries previously sitting at £78,000. Trainees qualifying into one of the firm’s regional offices — Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds — now start on £48,000, an uptick of 4% from £46,000.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows rookie remuneration in London sits at £37,000 in year one, rising to £42,000 in year two, while trainees in the regions receive £26,000 and £28,000. SPB offers around 25 training contracts each year.

The additional cash means SPB juniors in London are now on the same levels of cash as their opposite numbers at Norton Rose Fulbright and K&L Gates.

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Crazy to think just a few years ago the going rate for an NQ at a magic circle firm used to be 65k. Now it’s likely we’ll see it hit 120 soon. Wonder how sustainable all the increases are.


Twice yearly increases won’t be sustainable, it’s driven by a hot deal market needing lots of juniors.

If there’s a downturn, evidence of the past is that law firms tend to favour redundancies rather than reducing salaries. Occasionally teams which are completely dead short term but clearly still core long term (e.g. banking in 2008) have moved to 3 day weeks combined with some redundancies.

If that pattern repeats, the salaries probably are sustainable but at some point there’ll be a material reduction in the number earning them.


It doesn’t matter much anyway since you lose the personal allowance after 100k, so the difference between 100 and 120 is 7k. It’s just an optics thing for people who don’t understand income tax because it’s a more impressive and bigger number.


Since when did an extra 7k just not matter? That’s enough to pay a significant proportion of your annual rent. Not to mention you can easily put that 20k of gross salary into pension to bring you back under the personal allowance threshold.


When did anyone say £7k didn’t matter at all; but you’re not talking about the same proposition. It’s not just about the money – I’ve had offers for 30k+ more after tax as a junior associate (offshore in Cayman and the UAE) + a sizeable tax free bonus, but I haven’t taken them as I decided eventually I didn’t want to uproot amongst other reasons, including concerns about coming back. Similarly, a firm may offer a bit more money, but if the hours are longer, the work is sweatier or if the partner is 0.1% more of a d1ckhead, that makes all the difference. An MC firm is going to work you harder. There’s also a question of timing – being a trainee and junior in US firms, you’ll be worked very hard, perhaps to the point of burnout, but there is an argument to coming in later when the money is even more attractive and the bonuses much more meaningful.

Anonymouse the second

Most people on £100k aren’t dying for more disposable income; they’re saving for their future in some way or another. The difference between £100k and £120k is £20k in a pension, which will grow tax free, probably by around 5% p/a in real terms.


There are limits to the % you put in

tax lawyer

Since when have pensions been tax free on withdrawal? Anyone putting too much in a pension at a young age is likely to end up hitting the lifetime allowance and exposing themselves to the 55% penalty rate that arises in such circumstances.


You can put £40k a year in (for now) without the adverse tax consequence, as the poster said it’s a pretty good use for the income earned between £100-120k.


You can withdraw a quarter of your pension tax free. The rest is subject to normal income tax rules on withdrawal but provided you are smart and drip feed it you will certainly not pay the 60pc marginal tax rate at the 100-120 zone you otherwise would. Unless you see yourself making partner it is very hard to hit the lifetime allowance which is just over a million pounds. Even if you put 40k in over 20 years you won’t hit that. Most people move in house and contribute less to pension than as a junior in private practice


There is definitely a bubble. All that’s needed is a substantial economic shock to freeze the deal market, and Evergrande could well be a domino that causes it.

SPBToiler where are you?

We’re waiting


Solid mid-market firm. With the raise, it’s now good pay and a very reasonable work/life balance (across most, if not virtually all, departments). Don’t understand why the LC userbase criticizes firms like these so heavily.


Of course,
in the real world – and I am talking about professions in general, salaries touching £85,000 or above, or even anything above £50,000 is considered to be good / very good pay. No one will mock or laugh at you for it. Your friend circle no doubt value if not cherish their work life balance. In many careers, a salary of £85,000 is the highest one will ever get. But on this weird place, full of freshers at polytechnics who all harbour delusions of grandeur about this profession, have watched too many episodes of Suits and are in love with the notions of glamour and the odd Porsche 911s they see speeding past them on Commercial Road London on a Friday evening will put you down.


Yes. All the top law graduates are queuing up to join the likes of SPB, CMS, Eversheds, Dentons and Addleshaw.


85k is a very good salary if you’re getting normal hours and work life balance. If all youre doing is working then maybe as well be paid more with the market as it is.


It is a fine proposition. There is virtually no salary differential between Squires, Travers, Simmons, Eversheds etc. now. 10-15k difference with the MC, but that’s about 8k after tax, £500 odd a month more isn’t really noticeable.

Squires has 1600 billable targets, Simmons is 1700, I think Eversheds is about 1500. At Travers I don’t think there are targets but everyone I know there works very hard, 1800-1900 wouldn’t be surprising. Same with MC where I suspect it averages 1850-2000. Every hour after 1500 hurts more and more, it comes out of your evenings and weekends.

If you’re going to work close to 2000, you might as well attempt the pay uplift and go for US. If not, the proposition of earning virtually the same for a meaningful increase of quality of life makes sense.

lol okay

yes but who aspires to start off their career at a firm called The Bogg


The salary isn’t the most important difference.
A MC/top US firm looks infinitely better on the cv than a mid-market firm.

You are in your twenties. It is the first firm you work for. The reputation/training on offer at the firm is the most important thing.

There’s a reason why (on average – importantly on average) a MC/SC/top US trainee is of a much higher quality than one at dentons/SPB/Eversheds, and why they tend to have a better career over the long term.

It’s the same in banking. Maybe the hours at Goldman don’t justify a higher salary. But it’s not just about the salary


Keep telling yourself that mate…


Haha don’t fall into this “MC prestige” myth believing that they produce better trainees… the reality is that a lot of MC trainees start their TC straight after uni with very little experience and spent their time running redlines and proofreading.

At least some trainees at mid city sized firms get more responsibility and experience to an extent. Hence why it is not uncommon for US firms to regularly recruit from these firms. Check LinkedIn


I think the truth is somewhat in the middle. I do not think MC prestige is “myth”. There is a separate “brand” reputation and gravitas that the MC carries, rightly or wrongly, in the legal market. Brand value counts and is itself an asset.

With that having been said, it is also very much the case that trainees at “mid market” firms do have significantly higher responsibility.

However, what you have to factor in is, the MC firm trainee will have had, still, exposure to the biggest deals or best work which can look highly impressive on their CVs, and in turn their profiles / to clients. This may not be the case at mid-market firms.

Also, a lot of law firms want to, or be seen to, attract the “very best of the best” or “creme de la creme”. The MC / SC and top US firms in general tend to (not always) attract those. This in turn makes them more marketable and attractive to clients. At this juncture please do not take this as a slight. I know, and often it is the case, that for some reason or another (i.e. interview technique or personality types) some of the best lawyers are in not so good firms and vice versa. So, I am not saying if you are in a not so prestigious firm you are not good enough – far from it – but, often there is a perception that the top graduates from the top universities go for the top firms.

Unfortunately, much of the corporate world, especially at the top, is very much a cartel of friends. What I mean is, you will often find, say, equity partners at a top firm, are “friends”, in general, with their “equivalents” at the top banks, PE firms or corporates (etc). This may be from school or university connections. This in turn is what fosters or maintains these commercial relationships.

Hence, I do feel that a lot of these firms attract a certain type, because, they think that in the long term, these types of lawyers can maintain those relationships with their “peers”.


Nobody is reading all this lol.

Why do people write essays on LC


None of this is true. Lawyers bump around these firms. LinkedIn filters evidence all of this.

Makes sense innit

Focusing on target hours is misleading. Ultimately, at any of these firms if work needs to be done, you need to do it regardless of whether or not you’re above the target. The key is, how often is it likely to be the case that you work late in the evenings and on the weekends.


Target hours put associate in good standing and have reference to bonus

Target hours have reference to overall hours

If target, 1500, associate bills 1800, associate will leave. Firm should move resource away. In 1700 environment, firm says ok that associate is good.

If 1300, associate will get given more work, reprimanded, fired.

Hours and balance fo those hours depends on partner and team more than firm, but you choose the partner more than anything else; if the partner at Shearman is nice and a knob at Simmons, you’ll probably have a better time even if your hours are longer.

Yes law firms are law firms and clients are clients but peaks and troughs happen more often the lower the targets and the troughs should be weaker

Salary is calculated in reference to expected utilisation of each associate so targets do matter but they are not determinative

Might work there ...

Why is there no mention that corporate NQs are paid more…


*corporate and banking. And it is because they know how divisive that would be if it became common knowledge. Ultimate penny pinching as per.

US guy

Interesting. Care to share more on this?


I am not that poster and I don’t know this firm, but most Uk firms have pay bands, with advisory on the bottom and finance and corporate on top. So some NQs may be making 88 when the listed is 85.


Do certain US firms also have pay bands?

And is the advertised NQ salary the minimum paid out to lawyers, or could lawyers working for a firm with a salary of 100k find themselves on 95k if they are working for a less profitable and demanding department?


No US firms (I.e the NY and LA, Chicago based ones) just pay what they pay in one rate. Bonus is usually for just hitting target hours I.e 2000 hours.

US firms technically including Squires, Reed Smith etc, but these do not pay US market etc etc Same with other firms like Dorsey.


Wonder why Norton Rose haven’t increased – they were at 87.5 in October 2019 – reduced to 82.5 and now at 85 – would have thought they would have increased again to at least their previous high NQ salary figure…

Maybe they will have a larger rise next year

extra extra

NRF are pumping NQ rates up to £100k this week, just wait

New Kids on the Block

NRF are MC now


Don’t get my hopes up lol

Rupert; a US Firm Partner

Chicken 🐓
Feed 🍱
Dear 🦌
Boy 👦

The Glusker







Wonder whether other mid-market players are going to follow suit with the pay increases. Pinsets, Shoosmiths, IM, DACB


The firms you list aren’t really mid market. Squires is US international – it’s as bad as or as good as Reed Smith, CMS, Eversheds, Simmons. Those you list are national firms, but for Pinsents which have some international offices, but is in a special league of sh1tness on pay of their own (like Clydes).

Mid market minion

Is it achievable for a mid market NQ to move to a US firm?


Yes. If you’d done some research on Linkedin you’d see this.

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