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Trainee solicitor pay reaches £62.5k in the City

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Davis Polk tops rookie remuneration table

Trainee solicitor salaries have surpassed the £60,000 mark for the first time ever, Legal Cheek can reveal, thanks to fresh rises in the London office of US outfit Davis Polk & Wardwell.

The New York player now sits at the very top of the Legal Cheek Firms Most List for rookie remuneration after upping year two rates from £60,000 to £62,500.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The uplift puts Davis Polk’s trainees just ahead of their counterparts at Kirkland & Ellis and Sullivan & Cromwell (both £60,000), and within touching distance of some City firms’ newly qualified (NQ) associates.

The firm has also chucked extra cash at its year one trainees, moving rates from £55,000 to £57,500. Salaries for newly qualified associates currently sit at £147,500.

But you’ll face stiff competition if you’re looking to secure a training contract in the firm’s London office. Our Firms Most List shows Davis Polk provides just four each year.

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35 Comments

CC NQ

They have 4 trainees who are beasted….

Noice

Oh no I certainly agree and got bad vibes about them when applying (they also only take law students which I think is the only major firm in London to do this(?))

Just interesting to see the pay market keep rising

Roops

Chuck your chicky and go US!!!

Doc Schwartz

Quit huffing glue mate

Anon

Can’t imagine it being much fun training with just 3 other people. I remember one of the benefits of training at a big firm was at least having a large group of peers to talk to and socialise with – making the office experience less painful.

anon

I went to an Open Day and interview here (didn’t get anywhere after that though).
That was the general impression I got. Seemed a bit of a strange atmosphere. I’m not sure if it’s the same with more recent intakes, but the 4 trainees at the time appeared to be a lot older and more mature than the trainees you would find at larger firms – almost to the point that they looked and acted like associates who had been qualified for a while

Curious-city

Wow. What happens to juniors who drop out of these firms? Does it take a lot to get adjusted to lower salaries? There are very few exit options that pay as much as this. Only front office IB tbh.

Anon

Davis Polk is one of the firms with an unfortunate vac scheme system. They take 20 people in the Summer and only give training contracts to 4 of them. It always seems so arrogant to me to waste that much time for the other 16, some of whom may have even rejected other firms for them. Why don’t DP just have a more selective interview process?

Realest Realist

The entitlement of some of you kids is outstanding. Quite incredible. Hardly a waste of time to get work experience at a firm, which will look good on your CV and help with other firms too. You also get paid for it I assume, like in other firms, and effectively contribute nothing to their bottom line. This post millennial generation is full of clowns.

Nope

Given that A) most firms have vac schemes at same/similar time and B) most firms are moving to vac-scheme-mandatory trainee recruitment systems, choosing this scheme and not obtaining an offer could delay securing the ever increasingly difficult trainee spot at another firm by years.

With the cost of living climbing dramatically and salaries remaining stagnant at the vast majority of British law firms, further delaying qualification and the associated salary bump that comes with it could be catastrophic to many potentially great lawyers. Trainee recruitment is a messed up system generally for the majority of people, and this is another risk that applicants must be aware of.

Just because you (might have) navigated your way through the process, doesn’t mean others, even those who are very talented, can.

Realest Realist

The problem is your first two paragraphs are filled with absolute guff. There are still many firms that recruit from outside their vac schemes. If you can get on the vac scheme at a top firm like Davis Polk, you clearly pass the paper sift at almost every firm in the City. You can also do multiple vac schemes, they do not all run at the same time in the summer (last time I checked the summer break is from June to September), it is possible to do 3/4 in the summer and you can do them in Easter and Winter too at some firms. You can also do open days or just work experience.
What is the catastrophe of not qualifying at age 24 then? What absolute rubbish. Seriously, I’m curious. What disaster awaits a student who doesn’t secure a training contract and works as a paralegal or takes a job in a different field first? Do you understand what a real catastrophe is? Clue, it isn’t your favourite smashed avo sandwich only being available on brown rather than granary bread.

Also if you have an offer for a vac scheme at another firm and don’t fancy taking your chances at Davis Polk, then go else where. Why should they change their process for you? This is the world of work, stop spouting nonsense. I know mummy and daddy and your boarding master have made you feel special because you got into Bristol to study Classics and won a prize for the trombone, but no one cares in the real world.

Oof

Who hurt you bro

Again, Nope

This is the most out of touch, boomer thing I have read in a very long time.

I started the TC applications process in my late 20s after changing careers. The majority of firms I looked at that funded the GDL/LPC (because I couldn’t afford to fully self-fund) recruited primarily, be it by policy or preference, from their vac schemes. All of these firms had 2 to 3 week long spring and/or summer scheme options within a few days of each other. I received 4 invites. As a result of scheduling I ended up having to choose 2 firms over 2 others. Fortunately, one of them worked in my favour and I got my TC offer.

Had it not gone my way I would have been delayed (at the very least) another 12 months in qualifying. Given what I had budgeted for to move and live in London for this time, I would have been very near the edge of defaulting on my line of credit, rent bills etc. if I had to accept a further 12 months, or more, at paralegal/trainee-level wages as it was a noticeable pay cut from what I was earning previously. Thankfully the NQ salary, and my salary now, is significantly higher than anything I would of ever earned in my last role, so I have been making great strides at catching up.

I have met many people in London who had the same predicament, with some getting through it like me, and others who were not so lucky.

Realest Realist

Yawn. Nobody forced you to move to London to be a City solicitor. Again is that a catastrophe?

Anonymous

Baul Bastings plz match thx

Baul Pastings

Shet ferm, avoid

Anon

Anyone got any views on the following?
Proskauer
STB
Pillsbury

MC

No
No
Who?

Are these the names of craft beers?

No

Associate

Proskauer – nice team, legendary funds partner but often doing LP work across STB. Kinda dead for everything else.

STB – super culture, the best funds practice in the world / Europe / UK. Pretty much does all the megafund work.

Pillsbury – gg.

Anon

Fairly niche but Proskauer are pretty hot on private credit if that’s your bag

Anon

Fairly niche but Proskauer are pretty hot on private credit on the finance side if that’s your bag

Anon

Super culture as in a great culture or as in an elitist culture?

Associate

great culture

🚨🚨🚨

Lmao thx fresher, the lecture hall is that way.

Haul Pastings LLP

Proskauer lmao, p*ss off fresher 😂

Curious

Do trainees at these places also receive bonuses?

Jon

Trainees at Kirkland get both year-end and special COVID bonuses

Lol

62k for a trainee is kinda mad. What can they possibly know to earn that much?

Anonymous

Indeed. The money should remain with the partners.

DDD LLL

😉

Anon

Not getting paid to be experienced. They’re getting paid to be available.

Billy

Amazing really, not in the too distant past NQ was 60-65k at the big London firms. 147k for NQ at this firm is just obscene really, there’s no way value of headcount jumps that much. Only investment banks keeping up with this at trainee/grad level although I know there is a lot of debate at the banks about how sustainable these kind of pay rises are considering attrition rates after 2 years are topping 50% and experienced hires in some regions come at (or cheaper!!) than these grad starting salaries.

Sarcasm

You’re right.

That money belongs to the partners and their hard-earned PEP.

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