Hit billing targets and earn £150k, Orrick tells London NQs

By on

Discretionary bonuses bring pay parity across London and US offices

Junior lawyers in the London office of Orrick can now earn the same levels of cash as their US counterparts thanks to a revised bonus scheme.

The shake-up means a newly qualified (NQ) City associate will see their earnings swell from £120,000 to a maximum of £150,000 — a whopping uplift of £30,000 or 25% — if they hit a billing target of 1,950 hours. Their opposite numbers in the US currently earn $205,000.

The discretionary bonus is available to all UK associates and counsel, and brings total UK compensation in line with the firm’s US offices.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

And it’s not just client work that counts towards hours targets. The firm says associates can allocate time towards pro bono projects, professional development, innovation and thought leadership, as well as 40 hours to “unplug” on holiday.

A spokesperson for Orrick said: “Demand from our clients is at extraordinary levels in London this year — in the tech sector and beyond. We want to ensure that we are rewarding our associates and of counsel in ways that are commensurate with their contributions to our clients and our firm.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows trainees earn a salary of £45,000 in year one and £49,000 in year two. Orrick offers around four training contracts each year.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter



Why not just work at a firm that pays 150k base lol. Also, 45 – 49k for trainees is horrendous.



Hmmm… I still hear clucking…

🐓 🍱


Jesus Christ

On what planet is £45-49k for a trainee anything horrendous? A junior doctor earns about £33k a year. A trainee accountant at one of the Big 4 firms earn between £26-28k a year. Entry-level consulting salaries are closer to Moneylaw firms than the above but not marginally better than Orrick’s offer. This is not to mention the countless other graduate schemes in different industries which have just as many applicants as law but much lower salaries on offer.

Please get some perspective and preferably some life experience outside of reading Legal Cheek, law firm open days and your university’s commercial law society. It really looks like you need it.



This is a website about law firms. Nobody here cares how much law firms pay relative to random trash jobs (LOL why are you talking about ACCOUNTING). They care about how much law firms pay relative to eachother.

45/49k is objectively bad for any city law firm. I’m pretty sure even firms like CMS pay their trainees more than that. It’s grim that Orrick has set that rate when they’re trying to brag about NQ pay.



Weird attempt to try (and fail) to make their compensation comparable to the actual 150k NQ firms.



I’m not sure their attempt fails – at Orrick you will be earning 150k+ when you hit 1950 (average annual billables per lawyer being between 1850-2000), whereas if you work at one of the “actual 150k NQ firms”, such as Kirkland, you will be expected to do at least 2,650+ hours on a base of c£147k and end up on c£170k. I know which most would rather choose…



Absolute nonsense. I work at a firm paying £147 base and bonuses kick in after 1850 hours billed


US guy

To be fair, the bonus might kick in at 1,850, but we all know that’s not what’s expected of you/us.



Yes very accurate insider knowledge. You really think everyone at Kirkland is billing over 2650 hours lol? Me thinks your knowledge is coming from the undergrad rumour mill.


US Mid Level

I work at a Cravath scale firm and billed ~1850 last year. Can categorically say that I got the year end and covid bonus.



1950 hours for 150k lol. Bruh that’s not worth it. Go to a firm that gets you to 170k with bonus.



So they still pay £120,000 if you don’t reach billing target. Go to another US firm



How much is NQ rate at Greenburg Traurig?






‘Bout a tuppence m’lud.


Sir Reginald de Gallows

Sixpence at least, surely?



Is it generally acceptable to take all my annual leave days as a trainee? Is the situation different at US vs MC firms?



A better question may be:

“ Is it generally acceptable to take ANY of my annual leave days as a trainee? Is the situation different at US vs MC firms?”


Older gent

Good question and one I wish I asked when I was a trainee. I took a two week holiday in one of my seats, and it was not great, although they did the typical City thing of not saying it to my face. My advice, don’t take any holidays longer than a week, always be available and check how the other trainee/NQs in your team roll as if they are untrustworthy probably best to be around as much as possible.



Take all your holiday as a trainee, nobody cares and you would actually be perceived as weird if you intentionally held back in an attempt to show off (it also wouldn’t work).

No difference between MC/US (I trained at US).



Please take your annual leave..



This doesn’t seem a bad deal. You do stateside hours and get US money or you don’t do the hours and get £120k base. You have many magic circle lawyers will work way more than 1950 on a lot less pay.

I have friends at US firms paying £150K base and if you don’t hit your hours its made very clear where the door is. it’s not quite as simple as following the money.



Everyone on this site writes about US firms as if they’re these incredibly brutal, cutthroat places.

Honestly, large commercial law firms are 99% the same. If you did a placement at a UK or US without knowing if it was US or U.K., you wouldn’t be able to tell. The main differences are between teams. I’ve got friends working in lovely departments at US firms and awful ones at U.K. firms, and vice versa.



Except the firm in question is Orrick, which is irrelevant and has little standing in any market. I don’t see why anyone from an MC firm would kill their deal sheets and make themselves much less employable for an extra 10k a year when they’d be lapped up by a proper US firm for an extra 30k+ a year (as a junior associate, the difference only gets larger). I doubt that Orrick even has a presence in most of the things that the MC firms do in London!

This assumption that every MC associate wants to leave at all costs (even if the cost is literal career suicide and unstable workflow at a second-rate firm) is indicative of the ‘wah wah I need to be better’ chippiness that’s so common on LC nowadays. MC lawyers don’t leave their firms that often and when they do it’s as likely that they’ll head to a more mid-market firm or in-house as it is that they will go hunt the US megabucks $$$$.

Irony is that you talk about not wanting to follow the money and yet here you are making the assumption that everyone at the MC is a gimp that just wants to follow the money.


US lawyeah

Does anyone actually work in city biglaw (MC/US) because they genuinely enjoy it? There is a reason the salaries are so high. At the US firms, with the covid bonuses which were paid in instalments three months apart, you are effectively getting a bonus every three months throughout the whole year just to stay!


Been there bro

The reason for the staggered bonuses is purely because the quantity of raw ungreased penetration endured by the slaves at Gimpland & Ellis and others was so savage in recent months that 90% of them packed on 30lbs+ of body fat and lost most of their hair.

True story too yeah.



I’m sure they’ll enjoy the money after a few years.


MC associate

I have taken every day of my annual leave during every year I’ve worked in a MC firm.

In one year, I also bought five extra days and then used all 30.


Sunbed grabber



Comments are closed.

Related Stories