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Dentons increases NQ lawyer pay by 15% to £92k

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Juniors recording 1,700 billing hours to receive £107,640

The largest law firm in the world is increasing the salaries of its most junior lawyers.

Dentons is set to elevate base rates for newly qualified (NQ) associates in London from £80,000 to £92,000, a healthy uplift of 15%.

The cash injection will put the firm’s NQs ahead of their peers at Ince (£90k) and Stephenson Harwood (£90k), and within touching distance of those at K&L Gates (£93k).

Alongside the uplift to base rates, the international outfit has also designed a new bonus scheme that will put City juniors recording 1,700 chargeable hours in line to receive a total compensation package of £107,640.

The scheme applies to associates at all levels and across all UK, Ireland and Middle East (UKIME) offices, and will operate alongside an additional discretionary bonus for “exceptional performance”. Depending on location and seniority of associates, bonuses will kick in between 1,200 and 1,500 chargeable hours.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The changes will take effect from July 2022 following a review led by UKIME CEO Paul Jarvis.

Commenting on the fresh approach, Jarvis said:

“We want to retain and recruit the best talent. A key feature of the new bonus scheme is that it kicks in at a lower chargeable hour threshold. We are also increasing percentage pay-outs. This means anyone doing the same hours as last year will get a bigger bonus. Many fee earners who narrowly missed out on bonuses in previous years are also likely to qualify for a bonus next year.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows Dentons provides around 48 UK training contracts annually, with trainees in London receiving £45,000 in year one and £50,000 in year two. NQs outside London currently earn between £45,000 and £50,000.

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82 Comments

Denton$ DCM Associate

Very strong move from Dentons, firmly realigns our pay package with others of the same ilk (DLA, CMS, ES) but it’s a shame that this came so late following a hefty departure of Associates/NQs

(67)(12)

Anon

It still won’t solve retention issues. The issue for all U.K. firms now is how salaries increase from NQ. We’re talking increases of a few thousand at each year PQ at U.K. firms. It’s awful. Rubbish. The bonuses are rubbish. It’s when you reach about 3PQE that US pay almost doubles U.K. pay.
These NQ headlines look great but they’re not really solving the issue.

(53)(2)

Anon

Same ilk? DLA’s PEP is £1.19m, ES is £984K. Dentons is £670K. You’re reaching a bit there….

(17)(46)

Anon

Norton Rose and BCLP have PEP of 700k, does this also mean they are reaching in comparison to DLA and ES?

Clown.

(54)(3)

Anon

Profit isn’t an indication of quality, by any means.

(44)(0)

@Anon 12:08 PM

Ashurst, Jones Day, Bakers McKenzie have a PEP of 900k but are clearly several tiers above DLA/ES in every single practice area.

Gotta love these freshers who try to justify their mid market firms by PEP figures as if they’re ever gonna reach equity partner lmao

(26)(2)

What

Are they freshers or lawyers, your joke makes no sense

(1)(12)

@Anon 12:08 PM

Both obvs are you blind?

Dentons Associate

Not going to lie, I am happy about this and I am not going to quibble about the extra few thousand we are behind our competitors.

What I will say is waiting until July is a joke when other firms got their raises in November.

(45)(2)

Casual Pay War Enjoyer

This hasn’t really been the focus (understandably) of all the articles about rises, but quite a few don’t kick in until Summer. Include Sheds in that list, at least in the regions. US firms have obviously all backdated to January but in the grand scheme of things it’s hardly something you should be worrying about.

(6)(2)

Rupert; a US Firm Partner

Chicken feed, dear boy.

(2)(8)

Bull E Boi

Ah! Poopert!

Have you finished paying off the cleaning bill from that unfortunate episode at school yet?

(8)(1)

Anonymous

I’m not going to respond to your puerile and immature comments any more, you complete and utter wretch!

To mock a person’s name is poor form, but to then seek to humiliate them further by reminding them of something beyond their control that happened in an educational environment many many years ago really is beyond the pale.

It’s just as well that I’m earning too much to care.

Ta ta…

R 😁

(3)(0)

Anon

This raise was basically forced as retention rate for London 2021 qualifiers was horrific

(40)(0)

Kirkland NQ

If you can’t afford to treat yourself and your friends to a Giant Tomahawk at Nusr-Et Steakhouse on a Friday night are you really a lawyer?!

(8)(52)

K&E partner

Lmao scraping the barrel there son. Now back to drafting those ancillaries.

(50)(3)

Commercial barrister

Cute.

(6)(13)

W&C Trainee

Orishirishi lol

(1)(0)

US Firm Joiner

A disappointing announcement from a disappointing firm.

(37)(22)

All aboard the USS Wage Cuck

True, but decent cash for those in sleepy practice areas. I would take that wonga and sacrifice interesting work.

(28)(3)

MK ultra

What about the Milton Keynes office?

(5)(33)

Anon

The who office?

(48)(1)

Tax Associate

Good wack, still a sheet firm tho.

(26)(19)

Dentons Trainee

Just about enough to keep us aboard this sinking ship… for 1700 billable hours we might as well move to US firms and get +50% base for hitting that, e.g. Dechert pays £140k and has a base target of 1750…

(31)(7)

Rejected 2 US offers for some chill at night

Base target of 1750 at Dechert means nothing. They may as well just say that they have no targets. You would be billing way more than that like it or not.

(39)(2)

Casual Pay War Enjoyer

Find me someone at Dechert putting in 1750 chargeables a year. I’ll wait.

(39)(3)

Anonymous

Loooooool if you think that US transactional teams are only doing 1700 you’re dreaming.

(34)(1)

Dentons assoc

Worth noting that the 1700 figure is an example of total comp – the actual base targets are much lower so you could comfortably do 1500 in some departments and still get a bonus and relatively decent total comp

(10)(3)

Someone who actually knows

I’m afraid you’re being sold a false dream with the US billables. You’re actually expected to bill at least 2000+ a year, as well as a lot of additional hours for non-billables, as there is less support. I will also never forget my friend at a US firm that was 2 days into their HONEYMOON and received a call where they were told they had to come back to the office for an urgent deal – it was cut your honeymoon short or resign. They resigned. These pay packets come at a heavy cost, don’t let people tell you otherwise because it’s bull.

(47)(4)

Shocked

“I will also never forget my friend at a US firm that was 2 days into their HONEYMOON and received a call where they were told they had to come back to the office for an urgent deal”

I will never understand how some people sign up to this life and say they’re “satisfied”. No shade but how can anyone be satisfied with dedicating literally every waking second to making someone else money. Work hard but live your life, good lord.

(22)(2)

Anon

Would have done neither and waited to be dismissed. Helloooo employment claim

(14)(1)

Anon

Depends what’s in your contract. Many legal contracts, particularly at US firms, stipulate that you have to make yourself available for client needs even if outside of your expected hours and working days. This can include weekend work and cancelling holidays etc. Sorry, did you think you’d have a life? 🙁

(1)(3)

Anon

I mean I have that in mine and often I have to work all hours and weekends. What I am saying though is regardless of that there would still be a strong case if someone was sacked for staying on their honeymoon. Making yourself available is not a catch all where the employment courts would say you need to be available 24/7/365.

Stal1

Cool story, bruh.

(3)(3)

Anon

Talking of bull… this story.

(3)(9)

CC Insider

If you think people aren’t called back from holiday at US firms you are very, very naïve.

(27)(2)

Anonymous

Surely though you agree the costs of any holiday to be refunded? Otherwise these big shiny NQ salaries dont look so great when youve forked out a couple of k post take on something you dont get to go on.

Someone who knows

I’m afraid you’re being sold a false dream with the US billables. You’re actually expected to bill at least 2000+ a year, as well as a lot of additional hours for non-billables, as there is less support. I will also never forget my friend at a US firm that was 2 days into their HONEYMOON and received a call where they were told they had to come back to the office for an urgent deal – it was cut your honeymoon short or resign. They resigned. These pay packets come at a heavy cost, don’t let people tell you otherwise because it’s bull.

(0)(0)

just wait till you jump over m8

Dude US firms don’t let you pick and choose your workload. You don’t get to stop working because you hit the (first) bonus threshold. You just… work when there’s work. How is that not obvious. If that means working 2100 or 2300 billable hours in a year, so be it.

(15)(0)

Anon

Genuine Q – what is the reason firms like Dentons open offices everywhere and recruit so many lawyers? Do they really need such numbers and global presence, or is it just a marketing thing to say ‘we are the biggest firm in the world?’

(11)(4)

Lover, not a fighter

We are the elite. The largest firm in the world. We need the staff as our workload is second to none. We are thriving. We are Dentons.

(48)(3)

Anon

Dentons operates a franchise model like MacDonalds. Most of the firms it eats up are bucket shops, but it doesn’t matter as their real value lies in the marketing of offices from Mombassa to Wuhan. It’s not classy, but it works – for now. Exponential growth always leads to collapse, it’s the way of the world.

(34)(5)

Dentons Associate

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a bloody big television, choose dishwashers, cars, Spotify subscriptions and air fryers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing Netflix, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, giving your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Dentons.

(47)(7)

Lover, not a figher

Amen sis. Meet you at the Pub in the Hub. Yes, we get free drinks every week. Including G&T’s may I add. We’re living the dream.

(20)(1)

Dentons Associate

After firm restaurant serves up a hot gammon sandwich and chips for lunch. #Yasss #Michelin #Goals

(3)(12)

Dentons = meh

Because they are the McDonalds of law firms – open up everywhere, quantity over quality. A very unremarkable place to work.

I haven’t heard anything positive about Dentons from anyone working there – sounds like a sweatshop, and they have announced a pay rise months after their ‘competitors’.

(21)(19)

cute

Same reason as McDonalds or any fast food chain – as a prospective customer, you’d rather turn to the stuff you know rather than try the local options.

Most of Dentons’ offices weren’t ‘openings’ and they didn’t grow organically. The firm merely merged with or acquired local firms. If you ever read a Dentons email signature that should become apparent to you.

https://www.dentons.com/en/about-dentons/our-combination-history

(4)(0)

Someone who knows

I’m afraid you’re being sold a false dream with the US billables. You’re actually expected to bill at least 2000+ a year, as well as a lot of additional hours for non-billables, as there is less support. I will also never forget my friend at a US firm that was 2 days into their HONEYMOON and received a call where they were told they had to come back to the office for an urgent deal – it was cut your honeymoon short or resign. They resigned. These pay packets come at a heavy cost, don’t let people tell you otherwise because it’s bull.

(2)(1)

Copypasta

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a bloody big television, choose dishwashers, cars, Spotify subscriptions and air fryers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing Netflix, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, giving your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Dentons.

(12)(4)

Average Pay War Enjoyer

Reputations of certain firms are going to be in the mud come the summer without raises. It’s not just an NQ salary, it has a massive knock on. Being stingy in 2022 isn’t a viable option.

(17)(1)

I have Yorkshire puddings on every roast dinner.

Cue another round of salary increases for UK firms.

(16)(4)

Aunt Bessie Super Fan

Amen to the Yorkshires

(4)(0)

Even Christmas dinner?

Well?

(4)(0)

Anon

Yet another competitor of ours upping pay while we stay silent. Hopefully the whole firm town hall will shed some light on the delay. No doubt the new bean to cup coffee machines in the new Bristol office are to blame…

(7)(2)

Hmm

Which firm? OC or Simmons?

(0)(4)

Anon

Obviously OC given they are 80k and Simmons raised substantially

(4)(3)

Disillusioned

Lol at K&L Gates not being over 100k

(7)(13)

Pinsents Trainee

… and Pinsents still at 75k. Laughing stock!

(26)(3)

Realistic Anon

They have no choice… that idiot Foley had to sprout off in the media about the “unsustainable” salaries that are really just a market adjustment (following decades of salary stagnation whilst greedy partner drawings flourished).

He now has to stick to his guns and hope a couple firms playing catch up can’t afford it and have to do mass redundancies or shutter an office or two. He’s going to struggle with the SP re-election bid if the salaries are sustainable and associates start jumping ship.

(12)(0)

FBD trainee

freshfields now paying less on NQ than the “mcdonald’s of law firms” 🙁

(11)(12)

Anon

Not sure why you refer to Dentons as “The McDonalds of law firms” with quotation marks. It’s not a term used by anyone working in the legal industry. It operates the same expansion strategy as Bakers, CMS, Hogan Lovells – a Swiss verein – open up offices to serve clients in every country.

Have a read around law firm models it might come in useful for your open day applications fresher. 🤣🤣👏👏

(24)(9)

Actually a lawyer

Literally everyone compares Dentons to MacDonalds in law… other firms operate ch verein models but Dentons takes it to a whole other level.

(13)(21)

2PQE W&C

You are not a lawyer sorry brother – nobody actually refers to them as McD’s, take it from an actual lawyer.

(13)(13)

Old Guy

With all due respect, they do. This was originally applied to Baker & McKenzie but Dentons has since taken on the mantle.

Forever Associate

It was the Dacheng Dentons merger that really made it take the crown from Bakers. 10,000+ lawyers around the world? Crazy.

Old Guy

@Forever Associate

Crazy merger with a not top tier Chinese shop. The quality of some of the branches in Dentons is so low but I guess the model is London/Paris/Singapore etc. drive transactions and the other regions just rubber stamp boilerplate as required. The top tier firms in emerging markets don’t merge, they stay independent and connect up informally with the big boys.

Anon

Found the Dentons trainee

(2)(4)

MC Trainee

Wow. Really considering moving to a US shop at this rate.

MC no longer distinguished at all…

(6)(10)

Anon

If your idea of being ‘distinguished’ comes from pay packet alone and not quality of work, you’re lost. Sure you may want to move for better pay (and I get that!) but to discredit the quality of MC work makes you seem foolish.

(1)(2)

Tired, depressed, and overwhelmed

I have enjoyed four substantial pay rises within the last two years. I am still just as miserable. I am happy with the pay rises, and pleased to see the start of a regional pay war, but there is so much more that needs to change.

(13)(0)

Can people stop this trend of sending voice notes? Not only is it annoying because if you’re in the room with someone “voice-noting” you are indirectly included in their private conversation which should really just be a text.

What type of firm are you at?

If you’re that miserable move to a different firm (busier / less busy dependent on your current grievances), or just leave.

Why carry on doing something that is making you miserable. You’re only wasting your life.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Have you never heard of a SpeakWrite?

(0)(0)

Macs trainee

Dentons=Meh. The more this pay war drags on the Silver Circle seems like the place to be.

100k base (Although Ashurst/HSF ramped it up to MC rates 105/107), decent work (unlike Dentons), weekends are your own, humane finishes on most days (around 7:30) according to LC, and less insecure kn*bs that at MC/US.

I’m certainly staying put.

(20)(4)

He's lying your honour, he's lying

Nice try fresher. The ‘according to LC’ gives it away. If you actually worked in a silver circle firm you would know that is false. Off to the library you go, spring assessments are round the corner.

(22)(5)

Good work Inspector Clouseau

Really?… I know what the average leave time is for my department (around 8), but I don’t know if this is the case for every other silver circle firm, hence I checked the LC list. Not sure why that makes me a fresher…

(9)(6)

Anonymous

I’ve worked on a couple of transactions across from Macfarlanes’ finance team, and I can assure you that they were definitely not waltzing home at 7:30 and enjoying their weekends. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team who were as responsive across all hours of the day and weekend, including their trainee – I was impressed but also fairly horrified And I hear their corporate team are even worse, so are you sure that the SC is “the place to be” if you value WLB?

(14)(0)

ANONONO

OH NOOOO, how about Travers Smith? Any good (hopefully) information on the working hours of TS, another SC?

(1)(1)

NQ dad of two

I wish my firm were as generous! I have a three and six year old and after buying nappies for two, heating my flat and putting half decent food on the table I bearly have enough left to drink some cans with my mates down the park!

(3)(1)

Random passer by

Bearly? Gosh, which High Street shop in Stoke gave you an NQ job? Your kids need to accept comprehensive school as their future.

(5)(8)

Macs trainee

For wannabe lawyers no-one commenting seems to be particularly bright. I didn’t say I worked in the finance team… Real estate, if you must know.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

As a trainee, real estate will only be one six-month slice of your 24 month training contract, however. So it’s very misleading to generalise based on that, particularly given that Macfarlanes is very much a transaction powerhouse and therefore (i) most of your TC will be spent in transactional seats; and (ii) you will very likely have to qualify into a transactional team.

(4)(2)

Macs NQ

Complete nonsense… litigation and tax are both massive now (larger / generate more revenue than Corporate) and most people I know did only one transactional seat in their TC (M&A and only because it’s currently compulsory). To top off the inaccuracies, real estate has been so busy that they’ve had to start outsourcing work, so his/her’s experience would more likely be misleading in the opposite sense. It’s not ‘very likely’ you’ll qualify into a transactional team, the majority of trainees every year do not (depending on how strictly you define ‘transactional’).

(3)(1)

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