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Fresh salary rises see Weil trainees become highest paid in the City

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£60k in year one, £65k in year two

Trainees at Weil Gotshal & Manges are now the highest paid in the City thanks to a fresh round of pay increases, Legal Cheek can reveal.

First year rates have moved to £60,000, up 20% from £50,000, while year two pay now sits at £65,000, a rise of 18% from £55,000. The firm’s newly qualified (NQ) associates earn a salary of £145,000 following an increase earlier this summer.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek 2022 Firms Most List shows the sizeable uplifts put Weil’s rookies firmly at the top of the trainee pay table, with the likes of Akin Gump, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk and Ropes and Gray sitting just behind with rates of £57,500 and £62,500.

Weil recruits around 14 trainees in London each year and scored an A for training in our latest Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey.

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63 Comments

Zzzzz

Merry bloody Christmas 🎅

(34)(0)

anon

Madness! Any Weil people – what is a typical day?

(5)(0)

anon

Know someone who trained there. Said it wasn’t too bad. Experience in transactional seats similar to that of UK firms, worked alongside them on most matters. Big downside for them was the limited choice of practice areas. Said if they did it again (and if they could) they’d pick a US firm with wider offering.

(32)(10)

Anon

Absolute sweatshop of the highest order. They were losing half their trainees at qualification not long ago until they upped salaries even more. Don’t believe anything to the contrary

(56)(4)

Observer

City trainees now officially earn the same as 4 year PQEs in the regions

(37)(0)

anon

Obviously depends on the firm. Burges Salmon and Osborne Clarke are ~£60k as an NQ in Bristol at the moment.

(5)(6)

Up and Up

Crazy when you think in 2018-19 MC Firms such as Links paid their NQs around 83k – now max trainee salaries in London only 18k off that…

What a world
Assume all the American Firms will match?

(16)(0)

MC joker

Who clicked on this thinking “Fresh rises” was Freshfields catching up with the rest of the MC…

(35)(3)

HOW

Genuinely curious so excuse my lack of understanding/knowledge but how are these salaries sustainable? Can the firms really afford to keep raising their salaries? If not, will it only take another market crash to lower them or are there other triggers for the decrease? It really is insane that some young people at the very start of their career can out-earn most of the population but fair play to them!

(4)(22)

Anon

It’s not that ridiculous. Weil has 14 trainees. The firm makes a lot of money.

(58)(0)

Anonymous Anon

I’d say it’s more insane the amount that trainee work is billed for. When you compare it to that then it’s not insane

(25)(0)

New Anon

A trainee will be charged at around £250 an hour. If they bill 1,800 hours in a year, that’s £450,000. Granted that a huge chunk of that time will be written off or non-billable work (perhaps even up to 50%), and graduate recruitments costs, training, and LPC/GDL grants need to be factored into that too, but the firm certainly isn’t making a loss on them.

(33)(0)

anon

I would be surprised if Weil trainees are billed out at anything less than £400 an hour. I’ve been working across from a couple similar US firms and their paralegal/trainee rates have been just over that amount. And they were writing absolutely nothing off (despite us frequently asking). Must be nice working for lenders. If anything, they can afford to pay more than that…

I don’t think people who have only ever been at/understand regional or at mid-tier national firms really grasp just how different the hourly rates are for these firms paying six figure NQ salaries. It’s like they took the CJC’s latest guideline hourly rates and simply doubled the London 1 figures.

Shed a tear for the City firms stuck on insurance panels and forced to bill partners out at <£200 an hour. Good luck climbing that ladder looooool.

(9)(6)

Anon

You clearly know nothing. Lenders don’t pay anything the borrower pays all fees and trainees time is mostly written off at all shops.

(8)(6)

onLO.OKer

This is not a serious enough amount of money for the hours and the responsibility involved. And this goes for trainees at most US firms. It’s really not worth sacrificing your evenings and possibly weekends for what is three-point-something thousand pounds a month after tax. Especially if you’re in your 20s and have a lot of life to live.

Obviously the counterpoint is that you will be paid handsomely on qualification, and so you’re getting the extra money later on, but you don’t need to train at Weil if that’s the case. Train anywhere, qualify into a team that US firms poach from, move, get that bag anyway.

The Americanisation of the City has been happening for ages (remember those debates over lockstep ratios at UK firms in the mid 2000s?) but one of the things that people forget is that American-style working also brings with it American-style problems. Namely:
1. law being seen as the only way for bright essay subject graduates to pay off their student loans and afford a starter flat in an otherwise unaffordable city;
2. burnout after just 1 or 2 years as an associate in private practice becoming the norm across the board, not just at a handful of firms;
3. complete sacrifices being required of you in every other aspect of your life e.g. personal relationships and sports;
4. the inevitable health issues later on in life.

Merry Christmas everyone!

(55)(7)

Anony

Working in city law is difficult at any firm. However, this narrative is far too extreme. You’re working at a law firm, you’re not in a gulag.
I know a handful of people who trained at US firms. Their health is fine (unless there’s some underlying defect they’re not aware of). A lot of them stayed on at NQ (when they were free to leave) and continue to work there. Others have moved in house for better work/life balance. It’s not some awful life sentence, it’s a very decent grad career and worth considering if you meet the requirements.

(36)(14)

Anonymous

“You’re working at a law firm, you’re not in a gulag.“

Can I have some more gruel sir? Extra sawdust on top please.

(30)(3)

Anonymous

Totally agree-I’ve very much been previously caught up in the mindset of ‘omg this is soo much money’ but 3k a month is hardly life changing (especially if living in London)-plus if you finish at 9/10pm most nights as standard it really is horribly stressful.

I’m currently working in a consultancy firm before starting my training contract next year at a sc firm and even finishing at 5pm (remotely) is draining.

Since working from home you hardly have any time to go out for lunch/errands so you just order deliveroos most days and pile on the pounds.

There will undoubtedly be some commentors on here saying I’m just not cut out for it and I would answer by saying many people THINK THEY’D LIKE US ‘biglaw’ but after working don’t actually WANT that lifestyle. (Just look at retention stats after 1/2 years pqe…)

Beyond your other law buddies, no one cares what type of firm you work in-but you will.

(17)(20)

Random passer by

You don’t cook tubby? What’s with people ordering Deliveroo rather than doing a weekly shop and putting some raw food in an oven or on top of fire? It really isn’t so difficult. In fact some of the things you buy in a supermarket can be eaten with cooking!

(20)(3)

anon

Cook? Are you insane? These people don’t know how to cook for themselves. Their maids have always done it.

(11)(1)

Corpus Christi

Agreed. One of the benefits of the UK legal profession used to be that you could get decent, interesting work while still working 9-6 or 9-7 on average at a respectable firm, while earning a borderline six-figure salary. This meant that you could get top quality work without sacrificing everything else.

The top end of the profession resembles investment banking more and more. That’s fine for those who want that, but it’s not great for everyone else (the 99%). I fear that other firms are also trying to move to this model – see for example the Simmons and BCLP pay rises.

Also, both IB analysts and trainee solicitors at US firms get a raw deal given the salary they get paid. The real money lies further up but few people stay on long enough to reach it. Trainee solicitors don’t even get meaningful bonuses despite being an integral part of the team, unlike IB juniors, who can get bonuses of 50% or more.

To share a personal anecdote: most people who I know moved from MC/SC to US firms did so with a project or goal in mind such as starting a business or buying a house. Once this goal was achieved they left. It’s not uncommon for entire teams bar the partner and one or two senior associates to be fully turned over ever 18 months. That’s fine for those who need quick cash and can handle the sacrifice but it doesn’t make law as a whole a particularly enticing career. More of a get-rich-quick scheme that doesn’t actually make most of the participants (trainees) that rich.

(24)(2)

Anon

The hype of breaking into City/US law firms is now akin to what breaking into investment banking used to be (or still is). Obviously, salary increases and bonuses have a lot to do with it. It’s now the dream of many non-law graduates of being a solicitor.

(6)(3)

IB Ian

IB and PE is still king. They are on 6 figures asap-no GDL, LPC, 2 years training. Straight in on the big money at 21-22. With huge increases year on year.

And exit options are more lucrative and varied. In law it’s “go in house or move elsewhere”.

(20)(27)

Anon

Utter tripe. No one is going straight into PE on six figures out of uni. Most of the hires at PE funds are laterals from top investment banks. The competition for spaces is far fiercer than in law given there are just a handful of top banks and funds versus many high paying law firms. The very best in finance have potential to earn much more than in law but their job security is much less and burnout even higher.

(32)(1)

Not quite

You’re right that most PE funds hire from top investment banks (after 2 years in IBD, etc), but it’s not impossible. We shouldn’t also forget the other financial institutions that exist that pay even more out of the gate (after university) like hedge funds, asset managers, quant funds, etc.

I have friends making £250,000++ in their first year after university (undergraduate).

(3)(32)

Reality calling

hahahahah no you dont

anon

No you don’t

Anon

Can you shed some light on what bank/fund is paying year one analysts 250k GBP? The highest paid Goldman analysts this year got 130k including bonus and in exchange they were doing regular 100 hour weeks.

STEM Kid

The only people earning £250k upon graduation are quants for hedge funds. They do exist (I know a few) but they’re generally top of hard STEM classes at Oxbridge/Imperial (and normally with a MSc). Much harder to get those jobs than a training contract.

That said, IB first year salaries are now over £100k.

Tired old grandpa

These porkies are hilarious son, keep ’em coming 😀 😀 😀

Old Guy

Tbh as training contracts have become a lot more competitive and the average age of trainees a few years ago being 26-28 years old (rather than the 22 years olds decades ago), it does make sense that we see salary increases. We are moving towards the American model where Associates are typically in their late 20s with a lot of debt hence the big salaries. Now youngsters are qualifying later, also with a lot of debt, so the salaries have increased to some extent to reflect the enhanced status and cost of the profession.

(23)(1)

Al

Just out of curiosity, what are the reasons for the increasing age of trainees?

I wonder if there’s anything similar at the Bar. I haven’t noticed that with people on the Pupils’ Course. But everyone looks young to me now anyway.

(2)(2)

Anomize

A theory is that a lot of law students leave it late to acquire work experience which should aid in getting a training contract; you also have non-law students and career changer which would increase the average age.

Given training contracts start two years in advance, you can imagine if you begin applying for vac schemes in year 3, then you are already 1 year behind peers who would have had a training contract confirmed. If you fail to obtain vac schemes in year 3, then the problem moves to the following year with increased age.

As for career changers and non-law students, they would be older due to the circumstance of first obtaining a degree and then go to law school for another 2 years. If they don’t obtain a contract during law school, like above, the problem moves to the following year.

(5)(1)

Anonymooos

I would think increased competition has a big part. Takes longer to secure a TC with people having to paralegal or get some other quasi-legal/commercial job for “experience” to boost their application power. In other cases I imagine there are those who will not secure a TC (either by choice or not competitive enough) at firms with the resources to pay for the LPC, so they take some time to work in order to self-fund.

Save for one person, all of my trainee cohort had at least 2 years work experience after their LPC, and a few of them did gap years before university and the GDL. I was a career changer so I qualified recently in my early 30s. From the Law Society:

6,972 individuals were admitted to the roll in the year that ended 31 July 2019. Of these qualified solicitors:

– 4,421 are female and 2,551 are male
– the average age entered onto the roll in 2018-19, across both genders, is 29.6 years
– the average for males is 30 and the average age for females is 29.3.

(6)(0)

phlegm

It may be the case that barristers always started when they were slightly older – many had multiple master’s, a PhD, previous careers, gap years, etc.

I don’t know many people who went into the BPTC and then pupillage straight out of uni. There was always a gap.

(3)(0)

Old Guy

As firms started to open up to non law grads, you started to get people with degrees in other subjects and graduate degrees. Lots of people work either as a paralegal or do something else before converting to law. The really big City firms want trainees who are 22/23 that they can mould into what they want, so you will find that they tend to be younger. However many firms with smaller intakes want people who can hit the ground running and already know how to work in an office. Also the entire process has become so much more competitive, which has meant good candidates miss out each cycle and then apply the following year with even stronger CVs. Add to that London has become so much more international with a steady flow of Aussies, Kiwis, Saffas and many others being happy to work as NQs for 2 years in prestigious firms before they head back home. These guys are already qualified in their countries with 3/4 years experience so are low risk and other than sponsoring the Visa , present limited headaches for the firms. This has meant firms have less need for trainees to do the actual grunt work, hence why trainee numbers haven’t increased since the GFC but the firms are making more money than ever.

(10)(3)

bereesta

bar has always attracted mature candidates;
very rarely will you find early twenties barristers unless they are super academic geniuses and/or well connected
majority of pupil barristers are 25+

(3)(0)

Twelve cats eating Yorkshire pudding

It’s due to the increase in the volume of law graduates/non-law graduates applying for training contracts.

TCs are becoming more competitive each year and every year 80% of applicants who apply don’t make it. Thus those 80% apply the following year, yet you’ve got a fresh batch of 2nd and 3rd years applying for their first round of TCs.

This cycle has been going on for years to the point where you have people applying for TCs for their third or fourth year in a row. As a result, the completion is increasingly significantly and it’s taking people longer to become trainees.

(6)(0)

Al

Thanks for all the responses. That was interesting and helpful.

(3)(0)

SKAD

Sidley, Skadden, Paul Hastings and Debevoise yet to up.

(2)(0)

first class 'n depressed

lol imagine getting a first & doing the lpc & working 60-80 hour weeks only to get paid 60ks

(9)(25)

Bill

Weil pays gwop for everyone PAs, lawyers paralegals, business services – all very well paid. That’s PE for ya

(10)(3)

Bulll

They all earn very well there, it’s mad. The lawyers, business services, paralegals, PAs. That’s that sweet PE for ya

(6)(6)

Anon

People say this profession is very upper-middle class and they’re not exactly lying. One quick glance at this comments section and we have absolute gems such as ‘imagine working 60-80 hour weeks for only 60’ and ‘3k a month is not exactly life changing’. Yes, Jeremy, 3k a month may not feel like a lot to you, you privately educated twat (its not going to comfortably finance your bi-yearly ski trips and perhaps that £500 espresso coffee machine would be a bit of a luxury) but for the rest of us commoners, thats insane money. I would gladly earn almost 3 times the median salary in my early twenties for a cushy office job. You people are so blind.

(41)(6)

xJK

it really isnt insane money

(9)(7)

I'll just leave this here

Fair response.

But I’d be interested to know whether you live in London. If you do, 3k is, objectively, far from ‘insane money’. The living costs, however, are.

I won’t point out the obvious extortionate rent costs but on your median salary point, the *average* salary in London, is £41k as of 2021. So it’s not being a ‘spoilt privately educated twat’ to think that £3k a month is decent but nothing to write home about. You’ll save money, sure, but given the average deposit in London is £100k, there’s fat chance of saving anything meaningful towards that (even on an NQ salary to be honest).

On the lifestyle point – it’s an office job, yes, but cushy is relative. It’s cushy relative to, say, working in A&E. But it’s a) not meaningful or rewarding and b) consists of performing (at times exceedingly) menial tasks under relentless pressure at all hours. And the hours just get longer as you go up the profession, unless you make partner – at which point they’re still very long, and obviously vast majority never get there.

Some people definitely manage to carve out a rewarding career from it. But broadly speaking, Corporate law is a graveyard for intelligent, ‘gifted kid syndrome’ types who either a) are shit with numbers (so finance wasn’t possible) and/or b) are too risk averse and/or status conscious to do something interesting, left of field and potentially far more lucrative (e.g. something entrepreneurial or in an emerging industry). This is unfortunate because, often, those people are your clients and you spend your career as a lawyer trying to make them happy, all the while knowing that you’re on the wrong side of the table. But I digress…

(15)(9)

anon

If you think so negatively of lawyers, why are you here?

(7)(3)

Anon

Completely agree with your last two paragraphs. However, on the money point, I still do not understand the complaints. Yes, the average salary in London in 41k, but we are talking about an entry level position here. You are acting like 60k is the end game. Moreover, what 24 year old professional is putting a deposit down on a house? That comes much later on down the line, when you will be earning significantly more.

(6)(0)

Realist (original)

Earning above the average salary in London at the start of your career in London is impressive. The problem is the spoiled the private school kids who want to rent in Clapham or Angel, take 6 holidays a year, eat out every week, go to bars twice a week, date, buy expensive work clothes and then complain they don’t have much saved to buy a house straight away. I have had secretaries and colleagues in HR who, through budgeting for 5/6 years, have been able to get on the property ladder (in SE London and in zone 5ish around London) with their equally lower paid partners, and without parental help. So many City kids think they have a right to blow cash because they work a highly stressful job but then complain they don’t have any assets at age 30.

(3)(2)

Sitting comfy in Zone 1

“been able to get on the property ladder (in SE London and in zone 5ish around London)”

Zone 5ish, egads! Sounds positively ghastly.

(3)(0)

anon

It happens on every article and it’s so nauseating.
Oh, you have to work hard as a 25 year old for a six figure salary? Who’d have thought it? The entitlement is absolutely insane.

Simply look at the make up of these law firms. I’ve never met another person educated at a standard comp school.

(11)(2)

Kirkland NQ

Lmao back to your coal mine prole, leave the good life to us old boys.

If you’re nice enough, I MAY hire you as my third butler and overnight potato pealer at my Kensington Palace Gardens mansion.

(3)(11)

Silly fools

Delusional students – 60k is a shit load of money starting out your legal career. Even rich ppl will tell this…

(17)(4)

Lol

Don’t get jel just cos you can’t get into Weil 🙂

(6)(0)

anon

It’s funny when they compare a 60k salary to the London average salary to argue that it’s not that great. It’s the FIRST year of work fgs. What salary are you expecting in your first year of work? get a grip… most of these trainees have never even worked, just lived off bank of mum and dad.

(16)(1)

State comp

Yes – people whose first job is their graduate job will never understand what it means to take home a normal salary – e.g. people on minimum wage (even in London) such that a flat white equates to half an hour of work. That is the experience of the average person in their 20s in this country.

Absolute lack of self awareness. You are extremely privileged if you make £40k+ in your first ever year of work. My top uni in London was also full of people who didn’t know the value of money.

Merry Christmas

(14)(0)

Chinos

Rejected Weil for Slaughters crew, was I mad?

(2)(4)

Yeah that's right

Nah fam, Slaughters are tippity top top, Weil is some sandwich shop in Hatton Garden no one heard of. Innit.

(2)(0)

JFK

Paul Hastings get it together, please

(2)(0)

Tina

Which firms would be best suited to mature candidates please? Basically, did law at uni and the LPC then worked as a Paralegal after which I started working in a non legal role in a global company for c20 years. I am now thinking do I try and go back to it and try and become a qualified Lawyer.

(1)(1)

Archibald Pomp O'City

As somebody who writes “try and become”, you’re already a lost cause

(1)(5)

Tina

Helping other people is a nice thing to do. If you cannot suggest anything helpful then it’s better not to comment at all. Please be mindful how much your comments can impact someone else.

(3)(2)

anon

Weil NQs are now on 150k (similar to other US firms), because the US firms use a stub year from September to December and then provide a small bump from January.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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