Slaughters joins magic circle rivals in upping trainee pay

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Second boost this year

Slaughter and May has upped the salaries of its trainee solicitors following similar moves in recent weeks by Clifford Chance and Freshfields.

The magic circle outfit’s year one trainees will now earn a salary of £50,000, a rise of £3,000 from £47,000, while those in year two will receive £55,000, a boost of £2,500 from £52,500. This equates to uplifts of 6% and 5% respectively. The increases came into effect on 1 September.

This is the second time trainee pay has been boosted this year, with the firm announcing in February that salaries would move from £45,000 to £47,000 in year one, and £51,000 to £52,500 in year two.

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Slaughters’ new and improved rookie rates match those announced earlier this month by Clifford Chance and Freshfields, as well those already in place at Linklaters. The final member of the elite fivesome, Allen & Overy, currently provides trainees rates of £47,500 and £53,000.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows Slaughters offers around 80 training contracts each year, with rookies moving to a recently improved base rate of £100,000 upon qualification.

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Hearing rumours Freshfields have increased NQ pay to 115k and all associate bands pro rated increases. LC please can you verify.



When are Goodwin raises coming?



Good news: trainee pay is up

Bad news: you have to work for Slaughter and May



Absolutely hated my time at that god forsaken firm. The secondment was the only decent thing during those 2 years


30% YEA

Why did you hate your time at S&M?



You’re probably a newbie but it’s very well known that SaM has quite a tough firm “culture” if that’s what you wanna call it.

I’m not the original writer (Dan) of the comment but if you speak to enough people who have interviewed at the firm they can tell you how horrid an experience it is so you can only imagine how actually being a trainee or associate is like.

Slaughters has a reputation of only promoting oxbridge educated peers of a certain background to partnership roles. I think that says a lot.

The reason why many believe the firm is no longer MC is because it has outdated values and is very much a traditional elitist firm in the sense. It hasn’t updated or modernised to the new ideas of the younger generations and I question how long it can survive without changing its “culture” as people are beginning to value certain things more.

That’s as much as I think I can say without being untoward.



Sounds to me like they’re in good company with the rest of the MC (and most top firms, for that matter).

Old Guy

Well said. And the problem Slaughters have now is that there are many City solicitor jobs that are better (and arguably more prestigious) than partnership there, and certainly more lucrative. An entrepreneurial solicitor can earn a lot more working in Kirklands and Lathams. Associates are looking to move to earn a lot more and still have equal exit options into funds and PE firms. Expect to see more partnership exits as the US firms are able to throw so much money at the star performers, which Slaughters cannot do due to their structure.

Irony alert

Imagine patronisingly calling someone else a ‘newbie’ whilst freely admitting you have no knowledge of a firm beyond other people’s interview experiences…

SM Trainee

“…but if you speak to enough people who have interviewed at the firm they can tell you how horrid an experience it is so you can only imagine how actually being a trainee or associate is like.”

Agree with Irony alert here. Is this a joke?

I interviewed with (and received TC offers from) a fair few firms and enjoyed my Slaughters one the most. It was direct and made me think on my feet. I am not sure how this constitutes a horrid experience for a capable candidate.

It is sad to see so much anecdotal gossip and misinformation is perpetuated in the Legal Cheek comments section nowadays. I worry for the aspiring legal professionals who read this and actually use it to inform their career choices.

@ SM Trainee

No offence but if you’ve found that you had an easy interview and liked the firm then it’s probably because you ‘fit in’ there if you know what I mean and that’s not exactly a compliment.

It’s difficult to see everything that is wrong with a firm when you’re part of the problem and that problem favours you.


Bit of a catch 22 that.

@ Irony Alert

Not the original poster of the comment (Charles) but that guy clearly states that he didn’t want to say too much that could be untoward.

He is referring to interview experiences because the person asking “ Why did you hate your time at S&M?” is clearly somebody young and is more likely to know someone who has interviewed at the firm than someone who works there.


Irony alert

Why would the person asking want to know about other people’s interview experiences, given they asked about someone’s time at the firm? Contrary to what Charles thinks, attending an interview does not magically give you knowledge of a firm.

Also very odd behaviour from (presumably) him to throw the firm under the bus and then say that he doesn’t wish to say anything ‘untoward’? Straight out the Trump school of oratory. Would also be fascinated to know how someone who literally admits that their opinion is formed on some interviewee hearsay is privy to all this ‘untowardness’.


Decent pay for a silver circle firm



Slaughters is lagging behind tut tut



Come on Goodwin, where are your raises!!!!


P*zz off son

Lmao no one give af about Goodturd 😂🤡



FBD £££££. Surprised no post


Genuinely interested

I’ve always wondered why everyone hates on Slaughters. They’re widely regarded as a U.K. (perhaps global) leader in many areas (corporate, tax and competition spring to mind).

Yes, I get they beast trainees and juniors (like every other firm in their class). Some dislike their culture and criticise the firm for being overly oxbridge and snobbish. Who cares? Are they not CV gold and, if you can hold out 7+ years, an ideal place to forge a legal career?

‘Silver circle’? Sure. Whatever that means nowadays. If being vastly overextended with unprofitable foreign offices is now the bar to join the magic circle then so be it.



I did a vac scheme there and the trainee in the office I was in got shouted at really badly. He looked like he was on the verve of tears.

I don’t care what anyone says but in today’s day and age there is no reason a grown middle aged man should be shouting at trainees regardless of mistakes being made.

Hearing the trainees side of the story it seems that the instructions were not explained properly despite the trainee seeking full info before completing the task.

I got TCs offers from both W&C as well as slaughters but I took the former in a heartbeat.



Lol, you’ve clearly never heard what goes on at FBD.

Trainees being shouted at by senior associates for making a typo at 4 am…whilst the senior has made tons of errors in her mark-up but is the “skiing type” so gets away with it.


Truth Serum

People coming to the defence of firms like slaughters and FBD are always the “skiing type”.

They always want to defend a system that favours them



“CV gold”




You’ve literally listed the reasons lol.

I wOnDeR wHY eVeRyoNe HatEz on SlAugHteRz… I mean sure they’re elitist and snobbish and they beast their trainees and associates and the culture is quite cutthroat… but hey at least they don’t have international offices hehe xxx

It’s funny you mentioned that if you put up with it long enough it’s a great firm to have on your CV. The fact that many have to convince themselves that they have to put up with certain things on a daily basis just to build up PQE that it will be worth it in the long run…

It sounds like The Devil Wears Prada where the employees tell themselves if they put up with Amanda Priestley for a year so they can have it on their resumes they can get a job anywhere.



They hate us cos they ain’t us


Kirkland NQ

The only people that admire you are Durham students and people are in middle market backwaters like CMS. If that’s your crowd, it isn’t a flex. The PE dons barely remember who you guys are, outside of a fleeting memory back to first year when we heard you paid pennies and quickly discarded you from our memories.
Didn’t bother applying anywhere that wouldn’t donk me a cool £130k+.



I know so many Durham grads at Kirkland


Daniel the LPC Kid

It’s time US firms up trainee pay. It won’t be long.


Scipio Africanus

I second this (please hurry up Paul Hastings)



Serious question from a sixth former:
Why does Durham get ridiculed so much on LegalCheek?

Oxford law rejects about 90% of applicants for the LLB. From what I’ve read, most of them end up in London or at Durham, Bristol or a few others. There’s not really any difference between the students at that level (you can see it in average entry tariff).

Is it because Durham tries to mimic the collegiate system? Because it’s full of posh people? The other universities are also just as posh, Bristol is ridiculously posh too. Statistically speaking, some of the posters on here must be ridiculing these universities when they study at a worse university themselves?



Lots of Oxford rejects go to London, Bristol and Durham, yes. People take the piss out of Durham because its trying to be Oxbridge (you touched on it with the collegiate system mimicking) but it just isn’t. Bristol has its own culture, as does every major London uni.

Tbh, its all bants. Everyone knows that Durham is a good uni. If you’re offending by such jokes, youre probably a bit insecure. All universities, including the ones you mentioned, get the piss taken out of them. Bristol is just full of ketty silver spoon kids, LSE is full of virgins, and Kings is just an all round meme for example.



Serious question from a Durham undergrad hiding behind the persona of a school student so as not to get sh*t on for the uni they go to



You probably go to somewhere like Southampton mate, pipe down.

Can’t wait for the, ‘No, I go to Oxford.’ It is funny how about 90% of LegalCheek’s readers attend Oxbridge and ridicule the next best universities for law. It’s almost as if they don’t, in fact, attend Oxbridge. In all likelihood you couldn’t get the A*AA to attend a half-decent university so you find a modicum of comfort in taking the p*ss out of those who could.

And before you say I went to Durham – I studied in London.



I also studied in London and got A*A*A tyvm

I didn’t take the piss out of Durham, but the fact that OP transparently & hilariously adopted a high school student persona

Reading comprehension – it’s important in law

In fact I lived in an intercollegiate hall in London and absolutely hated it when people from my uni shat on people for going to ‘lesser’ London unis. So I don’t do that myself.



I also studied in London and got A*A*A tyvm

I didn’t take the p*ss out of Durham, but for OP transparently & hilariously adopting the persona of a high school student.

Reading comprehension – it’s important in law.

In fact I lived in an intercollegiate hall in London and hated it when people from my uni sh*t on others for going to ‘lesser’ London unis. I don’t do that myself.



Trainee pay doesn’t matter – the savings are marginal after tax.
Associate salary differences between UK firms don’t matter – 82-88k at firms like Eversheds, CMS etc. versus 100k at Slaughters is about 7-10k after tax, but Slaughters will have an associate bill about 300 hours more. You can budget, but the more you earn the more you spend (and stress spend) – the 7-10k will disappear.
All of this is willy waving, optics, and reputation. On an associate’s end, it’s psychologically difficult to be working the same hours as someone else doing the same work who is getting paid a penny piece more. There’s a % of it just being a case of needing a job and accepting your lot as to where you’ve ended up.
There’s limited value proposition between Slaughters vs any other decent UK city firm – salary differential limited, working hours gulf. Reputation counts, but it’s difficult to realise much financial value out of that.
It’s like the university willy waving. It doesn’t really matter where you go as long as it’s good, and doesn’t cripple your chances elsewhere along the line.


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