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Vinson & Elkins ups NQ lawyer salaries in London to £159,500

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Another day, another pay rise 💷

Vinson & Elkins is the latest US outfit to increase the salaries of its lawyers in London, with rates for newly qualified (NQ) associates moving to $215,000.

The Texas outfit, which recruits around six UK trainees each year, confirmed to Legal Cheek that this equates to a salary in Sterling of £159,500. NQ pay previously stood at £153,300.

The move comes in the same week we reported a trio of US firms had upped base rates for City NQs. Gibson Dunn and Simpson Thacher moved salaries to £161,700 and £158,000 respectively, while juniors at Covington & Burling saw their pay rise by 17% to £151,000.

V&E associates further up the ladder have also been handed rises. Salary bands for those with one and two years post qualification experience (PQE) now sit at $225,000 and $250,000, while a three PQE lawyer will earn $295,000. The rises are backdated to 1 January 2022.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

26 Comments

Random passer-by

This website has become quite predictable and boring. Its the same thing over and over again. Salary increases, retention scores and the odd event. The only interesting long form articles are by students who submit stuff to you. No proper coverage on the criminal bar, Russia, high profile lawyer moves, inside info on firms, coverage of lawyers working on interesting things, book reviews, interesting cases etc. The decline over the last 4 years has been remarkable, but I’m sure you’re making more money as you get sponsored for all these salary adverts.

(99)(31)

Observer

I believe this platform is aimed at students. I personally don’t bother reading the articles and focus on the comments as there’s usually heaps of industry insight to glean

(70)(1)

Forever Associate

You really don’t get it, do you?

Junior lawyer salaries in the UK have been stagnant since the 1990s. Salary adjustments didn’t even match inflation whilst partner drawings continued to rise. There was always a few US outposts that didn’t offer TCs, but instead offered really high NQ salaries to lure people who trained elsewhere. But that was only a few roles per year.

Now, a noticeable percentage of NQ roles in the City offer salaries of well over 6 figures, and it’s causing the rest of the market to take notice finally. Even the tight-fisted insurance panel firms are having to do salary adjustments of >25% in the past year just to persuade people to stay. Other firms have raised salaries 3 times in the last 6 months. Regional offices now pay NQ salaries of over 60k, and a few years ago that was senior associate/salary partner income in the regions (for some firms it still is). This is unprecedented.

This is a significant moment for the profession and the more rises are reported, especially from the US firms that are trying to grow their UK footprint, the more pressure will flow down to the British firms.

Let’s keep the circus going!

(94)(1)

Anonymous

Unfortunately not all tight-fisted insurance panel firms have made salary adjustments. In fact, one such firm that has had a 50% PEP increase has failed to increase salaries at all.

(28)(0)

Associate

I am on this site for the comments not the articles. They are gold.

I am in commercial law for the money not ‘love of the law’. Pay me more gold.

The show goes on.

(62)(1)

Future trainee

If only you could be honest in interviews, I would love to have been able to say that in my “why us” answer…

(7)(0)

Associate

Yeah you need to play the game. Feed them the answers they want to hear, unique culture etc. In reality they are all largely the same.

And you still have to spit out a few lines through clenched teeth about culture in lateral interviews but not nearly as much as TC apps.

Random passer by

Sadly the comments aren’t as good as they used to be as they censor a lot. In some cases that is justified, but in other instances they just block out comments that upset their paymasters. Legal Cheek was at its peek circa 2015 to 2018. Now we swing by hoping it gets better but it never does. 4/5 articles a week on a firm increasing NQ pay by £10k is boring.

(12)(3)

Alan

So true. They are very actively blocking comments relating to the insurance heavy firm that has +50% PEP yet has not given associates any form of salary increase. The problem won’t go away at said firm until they increase salaries. They won’t attract talent and the existing talent will gradually leave.

Long Live the Pay War

Couldn’t agree more.

The responsiveness of firms increasing salaries during the pay war is no doubt attributable to the reporting of salary increases from legal forums such as Legal Cheek, The Lawyer and RoF.

Does the OP seriously think other firms would have increased their salaries – particularly those who have been stagnant for years – if people were not talking about it constantly?

Most of the lawyers who have enjoyed salary increases have, to some degree, legal tabloids to thank for them.

(20)(0)

Observer

Also, just to add, ‘Random passer-by’ sounds like a salty equity partner who’s PEP is reducing due to fair remuneration of their associates. After all, who else doesn’t want to hear about rising salaries

(6)(7)

He's a fraud

Legal cheek please don’t listen to this person. They’re probably a partner at a firm crying because these articles are making pay more transparent. Keep posting and LONG LIVE THE PAY WAR.

(35)(3)

Unknown

Inside info on firms is what I come for but LC produce little in this regard or they just censure comments revealing inside info.

(3)(0)

Old Banternarian

The fact that the comments are censored beforehand is what is making the site boring.

There used to be near the knuckle debates and banter in real time once with only the odd comment removed reactively.

Now you can’t even say [deleted] here any more!

(3)(0)

Legal cheek hater

Agreed – its just become a marketing site US law firm pay

(10)(12)

Anon

The fact these articles get the most comments though is indicative of their popularity. Even if it’s just people coming to hate.

(36)(0)

Anon

And yet articles about salary and retention consistently have the most engagement which suggests that other readers are actually very interested in them. If you don’t want to see these sorts of articles engage with the others then.

(37)(3)

irritated observer

What odd comments. Are you suggesting these matters shouldn’t be covered at all by LC? Nonsensical. Helping facilitate transparency in pay – and thereby encouraging a more efficient marketplace for talent in the UK – should be lauded so that associates don’t continue to be stiffed by their pay masters. The black box strategy only works for the partners.

(39)(2)

Associate

THIS. We need full reporting and transparency on NQ pay (and pay further up the ranks) so we know we are fairly paid. Dublin firms are fairly tight lipped on comp so you never know what people are actually getting paid. I’m very happy that in England the legal press have helped bring about transparency.

(24)(2)

Legal Cheek - Please Continue Fuelling the Pay War by Publishing Pay Increases

The commenters who are criticising articles focussing on pay increases do not see the bigger picture (or they do and they are fed up with increases eating into their profits).

The pay war and increases in salaries across all firms is attributable, to some extent, by articles highlighting them.

Many of the firms that increased their salaries would not have done so if legal websites were not showcasing the increases of their competitors.

This is because:

1. The junior lawyers of a firm that had not increased salaries would recognise competitors are paying more as it is plastered over common legal tabloids.

2. The firm realised this and so had to increase their own salaries to prevent their junior lawyers jumping ship when they have the chance.

Many firms have increased their salaries twice within 12 months. Some firms have increased three times.

If you have enjoyed a pay rise, you absolutely should want the transparency to continue and encourage further articles.

Don’t be a fool and think firms would have done this without the pressure of transparency thanks to Legal tabloids.

(17)(1)

Observer of the observers

Thank you Legal cheek for bringing more transparency to the law firms remuneration of their employees. There should be also more information about the Partners remuneration and compare between firms in term of ratio of associates remuneration per partner.

(13)(0)

Observer of the Observer or the observers

On your first point, there is a ‘Most Money: Partners’ section in the Most List…

(1)(0)

In-House bod

Be prepared to give up your life for these sums. It sounds great at first, but considering most of the partners will never return to the office full-time ever again, the reality is grim.

No more fancy restaurant jaunts or nice office parties to offset the crushing workload. Juniors will be working 9-10pm every day (likely including weekends for a place like V&E) in their parent’s spare bedroom or a dingy London flat. Really grim seeing what many friends ended up looking like after just a couple of years of ‘biglaw’ post pandemic.

I trained at a silver circle, moved to a US firm and then got out of there sharpish at 3years PQ. I advise the same.

(14)(5)

Observer of the observers

Not so grim if you love your job and the culture of the firm is good. The worst thing is working with partners who think they are the center of the world and give peanuts as remuneration to juniors because they think that “juniors are not able to do anything and they are here just to print and proofread documents”.
Partners without juniors are nothing and US law firms seems to start understanding this.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Parent’s spare bedroom? Tell me you’ve never worked at a US firm without telling me you’ve never worked at a US firm.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Um most people probably don’t want to move out into zone 1 London and pay 4k a month for a fancy apartment and instead save up for an actual deposit?

Idiots like you giving in to lifestyle inflation will always be poor 😩

(2)(3)

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