London NQ lawyer pay hits record £161,500

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By Thomas Connelly on

US outfit Goodwin ups junior rates to unprecedented levels — also unveils new perk which sees it pay for their holidays

The salaries of newly qualified (NQ) solicitors have reached unprecedented levels in London, with US law firm Goodwin Procter confirming its fresh faced associates will now earn over £160,000 a year.

The Boston-headquartered outfit announced rates for junior lawyers will move from £147,000 to £161,500 — a bump of almost 10%. Their US counterparts will earn $215,000.

The Legal Cheek 2022 Firms Most List shows the move puts Goodwin firmly at the top of the junior lawyer pay table, with Milbank and Vinson & Elkins sitting just behind with salaries of $215,000 (roughly £159,000) and £153,300 respectively.

Goodwin confirmed boosts for those further up the associate scale too. Lawyers with one and two years post qualification experience (PQE) will earn £169,000 and £188,000, while those with three years PQE will see their salaries swell to £214,000.

Trainee salaries currently sit at £52,000 in year one and £57,000 in year two.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The big money move is made all the more impressive given the firm upped NQ rates not once but twice in 2021: an uplift in February to £137,500 followed by another in July to £147,000.

Last week Milbank fired the starting pistol on a fresh round of rises, upping NQ rates to $215,000. Other firms to have since matched include Cadwalader, Fried Frank and McDermott Will & Emery.

But with big salaries come long hours. Exclusive Legal Cheek research found that junior lawyers across elite US firms in London were clocking up 14-hour work days — with the shift to remote-working only serving to ramp up their screen time.

Separately, Goodwin announced that it will pick up the bill for its lawyers’ holidays.

The mega-perk, ‘Recharge on Goodwin’, means eligible associates — those who billed 1,950 hours in 2021 — can choose from a selection of “thoughtfully curated” week-long trips, including an “island escape, urban exploration, winery tour, luxury spa and wellness and family-friendly Disney trip packages”.

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