Shearman steps up NQ talent battle with improved £145k salary

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Second sizeable rise this year

Shearman & Sterling has increased newly qualified (NQ) solicitor salaries for the second time this year.

NQs in the London office of the US firm will soon earn £145,000, up by roughly 7% from £135,000.

Shearman last boosted NQ pay packets in April by 12.5% from £120,000.

There are some more associate salary rises further up the chain. Solicitors with one year post-qualification experience (PQE) also receive a £10k pay boost, taking their salaries to £155,000, while 3PQEs are now on £195,000 and 6PQEs on £250,000. The rises are effective from January 2022.

A number of US firms in London have increased junior lawyer salaries in recent weeks and months, including Weil, which went from £133,000 to £145,000 last month. Gibson Dunn and Sullivan & Cromwell both pay out £145k to their London NQs as well.

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Kirkland NQ

Aww bless x

Bob's Uncle

Same old shtick 🥱

Get a new persona for the comments Bob, it’s getting old!

The spectre of Maggie T

Ding dong, the Magic Circle is dead.

Kirkland NQ

Lol I’d care about your comment but then I’m too busy choosing what colour of calf leather to have in my new Lambo.



US client

Respond to my email you little bitch. We’re closing today.

Recent Graduate

Around this time in 2018 I was applying for vac schemes and I distinctly recall Shearman barely crossing 100k at NQ — so someone who signed a TC then would be getting close to 40k(?) more when they qualify than what they would have expected, which seems unreal.

If so then Shearman seems like a very good deal — the people I met there seemed a lot less overworked than their “white shoe” counterparts at latham and such, but that may also have changed in the intervening years.


This narrative that some US firms overwork their lawyers and others don’t is a myth that needs to die out quickly.

Or maybe people just like being deluded?!?


Latham isn’t a white shoe law firm, it’s based in LA.
Also, everything else you said is incorrect. At least you admitted to being a recent graduate.


shearman is a second rate shop that has been losing people right and left. profitability is bately any higher than MC firms.


The headline really should be £250k 6PQE. That is absolutely crazy money compared to non-US equivalents

US guy

Take into account mid-year bonus, end of year bonus and Covid/retention bonuses and it’s more like £350k. Not bad.


Plus circa £75k bonus. At SC, you’re looking at £120-130k for that level of seniority.


What’s the standard MC rate at 6PQE?

The spectre of Maggie T

Ding dong, the Magic Circle is dead.

Devil but not an advocate

With the NI, student loans repayment plan 2 and pension contributions being taken into account… the recent government tax measures has revealed something we always knew but no one wanted to openly say.

The Magic Circle lawyers on around 6 figures have a take home salary of roughly £57,035.

If you’re at an international firm or mid level city firm earning around 80k plus you are on a take home salary of roughly £47,835.

Considering the differing expectations, different firm cultures and work life balance, it becomes questionable whether that 10k difference is worth the extra stress, less free time and extra inches around your waist from a sedentary lifestyle.

If you’re at a US firm earning around 120k a year, your take home salary is roughly £63,435.

That 120k US salary is a mere 7k addition from the 100k magic circle salary.

The nuances in salary discussions never go into these differences.

What does everyone think? Interested to hear your thoughts


Extra inches around your waist🤣🤣🤣 myself included there are a few trainees in my cohort who gained up to 10kg by the time we qualified.

It takes its toll on you to say the least


It’s the same way that most nurses are fat and overweight but the doctors and those higher up are slim and in good shape and health.

Those doing the grunt work end up taking it on the belly and hips unfortunately.

The law firm perks such as free takeaways seem great at first until the expensive suit you bought for your TC no longer buttons up lol


This is also a class issue.

Most nurses are working class.

Angel on the left shoulder

I think the main place where it counts is the PQE. It’s worth it in the long run when you take PQE salaries into account

US guy

Well firstly, most US firms are £145,000, not £120,000. On repayment plan 2, that’s £77k take home per year (current NI rate). That’s £20k more than your magic circle lawyer. But wait – we also forgot to take into account the bigger bonuses at a US firm (plus mid-year bonus, Covid/retention bonus). That £20k is now more like a £28k gap (perhaps more). And that gap grows every year.

Why would you work the same hours for £28k take home less, a gap which is only going to grow every year?

Of course the above doesn’t fit your narrative, but it’s pretty black and white to me.

US guy

I should also add, the bigger student loan repayment you’ll make mean that you’ll pay your student loan off quicker and it’ll accrue less interest. You’ll also be maxing out your ISA every year and likely have additional cash left over for investing, meaning more returns. Plus, you can max out pension contributions.

Curious Cat

What do you mean by maxing out ISA and pension contributions?

How does that come into the conversation?


@Curious Cat

Because you could pay £40k (tax free) into your pension which would bring down your overall pay for that tax year and therefore you pay less tax. Note that this 40k would include any of your firm’s contributions as well so it won’t be the full 40k from your pocket. You then also get a gross up from the contributions you make so your “net” figure won’t be as much as you think. A bit fiddly to explain in words – much easier to explain using numbers and diagrams!

Next step after maxing out pension is maxing out your ISA at 20k for the tax year.

As an NQ on 145k, I’ve done some rough calcs and after tax, max pension contribution and maxed out ISA, you would have around £37,600 net in that year (without taking into account any additional income).


You’re correct about funnelling £40k into your pension, and thus avoiding income tax and national insurance on that, but the £20k into an ISA comes from post-tax salary, so that’s irrelevant.

Advocating against the Devil

As a future trainee at a MC firm, I doubt I will be doing any less work than US firm lawyers. And top US firms now pay £140k-150k, not £120k.

Additionally, those earning £140k are able to benefit more from pension and ISA tax relief, which is considerable.


What do you know child. Bet you haven’t even done contracts on the GDL.


This is honestly what an NQ is worth. Why people would qualify at anywhere paying any less is beyond me.

Daylight Robbery

With the new NI measures, this will be £ 75,771.20 after NI, repayment plan 2 and pension contributions.

Divid endz

Worth it in the long run though I guess


What is the average US salary across different PQE bands? Interested to know what a 3/4PQE salary is.


Top of market is c. 170 for a 2018 and 195 for a 2017


That’s not the top of the market. 3PQE at Goodwin for example are paid £200,000 base.


Look at the new Cravath Scale.

Also, Class of 2018 =/= 3PQE depending on when in 2018 someone qualified. The 3 PQE you are referring to is presumably equivalent to class of 2017, which yes, is c.200 give or take. Thx


No they don’t. You definitely don’t work there. They aren’t getting 15k+ raise every year after qualification.


NQs don’t know shit. So why pay them this much. You are literally “newly qualified” loool


Why pay people anything? It’s smart business to get the best talent to leave English firms and move across and because they can afford to


Loving all these unambitious dregs trying to make themselves feel better by breaking down the salary after tax (conveniently ignoring pension and ISA contributions).

On that logic, what on earth is the point in a salary increase? Stay at a UK firm, on lets say a 90k salary, and never move. What’s the point? UK firm increases are terrible anyway – let’s assume that it increases in 7.5k increments – after a few years you’ll reach the US NQ salary. By that point the US NQ will have moved in-house or they’ll be North of 300k. Shearman has just increased the NQ salary by more in one year than the MC has increased theirs in about a decade

Whilst general rules and truths can often be disproven by individual examples, a trend across every population is that the best and most capable tend to earn the most and have the most ‘prestigious’ jobs. No one is ‘selling out’ by working for a top US firm in London – these firms have the same reputation as the MC in many areas of city law now. If, as the huge majority of city lawyers do, you end up working in a general commercial/corporate area of law, moving to a US firm is a very strong career move.

Please show me a sane student who would choose a job at, for example, Eversheds, over a TC at Latham/Shearman/Weil etc. Unless you are interested in a very niche area of law as a student (and this in itself would be foolish as you don’t have sufficient knowledge or experience to know what you’d enjoy), the latter is by far better for long term career prospects. And this is reflected in the standard of students that are attracted to and can obtain a TC at these firms. That’s life – the most capable students will, on average, out-perform the average student. What a shocker.

All the criticism in the comments is genuinely depressing – losers trying to reconcile the fact that they can’t and won’t ever earn a salary north of 150k. How about, instead, you say, ‘great for the guys and girls that can get a gig there, well done’?


Someone has been triggered.

Having worked with US law firms, MC, SC and boutique law firms, it’s safe to say there is some absolute dross at each type of firm. And some brilliant talent at each type of firm.

But I respectfully disagree that those at US firms are automatically and on average better than those at other top city firms as you seem to claim. It takes a very specific personality to be willing to go to a US firm and even more so to outstay a couple of years. It isn’t necessarily the best and brightest that go there. It’s those that are willing to sacrifice a lot and are quite happy cancelling plans or getting beasted on a regular occasion and having no certainty of work life balance.

Having the right personality to thrive at one of those firms (and fair play if you do) does not equate necessarily to being a better lawyer on average than those at other top city firms.


That happens at large U.K. firms. People at the MC are beasted just as hard, and even if it’s marginally better, it doesn’t justify the huge difference in pay.

That argument is getting so old and tiring.

anon lawyer

It’s a 15k rise per year at most US firms. So if you qualify on 145k then at PQE you’ll be on 220k at 5 PQE. But the bonus also increases so your bonus at 5 PQE may be around 65-75k (gross).

Triggered Mark 2

Unless that response wasn’t aimed at me, please can you point out where I have said working at MC is any better so that it justifies the pay gap?

My point was (contrary to the joker above) that working at a US firm doesn’t automatically mean you are a better lawyer than elsewhere. That’s nonsense.

I tend to agree that if you’re going to get dumped on you might as well get paid for it. But I do not accept that working at a US firm automatically makes you or means you are the best lawyer.


Wrong comment 😑

tax lawyer

Why’s everyone suddenly talking about ISA contributions as though they’re funded from pre-tax income? It’s only interest, capital gains and dividends on the ISA that are shielded from tax.

US guy

Because at a US firm you’ll actually have enough cash to max them out every year, along with maxing out pension contributions.


LOL. Imagine working all those extra hours for about 10k extra each year – after you deduct tax, of course. Everyone who works at these silly US shops is getting absolutely rinsed, look how fat they’ve become since they started work, and look at how little they see of their friends. Oh yes! And how stupid they all are! Everyone knows that only stupid people care about money in a career like COMMERCIAL law. They study at universities like Southampton. Haha! My MC firm only takes people from Oxbridge… I think. And my firm has these really niche seats where only super intelligent people can qualify. Admittedly, the firm only takes about 3NQs a year in these areas and most of us are shovelled into profit-making departments like corporate, but still, these areas EXIST at my firm!

Me? I’m happy working at a large UK based firms. There’s such a big difference. I get to see my friends and family all the time… sometimes… and like, I get a Deliveroo allowance… but that’s only for when I work past 9.30pm… which is admittedly every Monday-Friday… but yeah, aside from that, working at a UK firm is so much better.

What idiots those US lawyers are! All that money lost to tax… hahaha… all that money… hahahaha..

Please help me.

God Bless Us

This comment is why scientists are currently looking for other habitable planets.


Get therapy, sounds like you need it

R&G mid-level

Come on Ropes – you’re so far behind at this point.


Ropes is a two-bit bucketshop. You’re clearly a betacuck for still hanging around as a mid level toiler 😂🤡

Ca$h thir$ty

Paul Hastings what u sayin

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