News

Slaughters increases NQ lawyer rates to £115k

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Boosts of up to 20% across all PQE levels too

Slaughter and May has boosted newly qualified (NQ) solicitor pay by almost 7% to £115,000, becoming the second magic circle outfit to increase this month.

The firm today confirmed that NQ base rates have moved from £107,500 to £115,000, effective from May 2022. The firm last increased its remuneration for juniors in December.

There are also uplifts for associates at all levels of post qualification experience (PQE) by up to 20%. Slaughters says these moves have been made to address the compression within PQE levels — otherwise known as salary bunching — by creating a wider spread between the top and bottom PQE ranges.

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The firm also committed to pay bonuses twice per year, rather than annually, based on the performance of the firm, as well as develop a ‘Working Practices Code’ to “support its principles in relation to work life balance”.

These changes have all been made as part of a wider review following feedback from associates across all PQE levels, the firm said.

Steve Cooke, Slaughters senior partner, commented:

“I am very pleased to be able to update associates today on the outcome of this review and the feedback they have shared. By raising salaries significantly, putting forward some concrete proposals in relation to work life balance, and strengthening support for career development, we are recognising the importance of our associates at all levels”.

But the fresh rises fail to match those dished out earlier this month by Freshfields, which upped NQ rates from £100,000 to £125,000 — or 25%.

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110 Comments

Baffled.

How unlike Slaughters – a response that isn’t glacially paced.

(81)(1)

Anon

Shows they are scared more than anything. If all the others matched 125 they would have to whereas by coming in early they can get away with being cheap.

(96)(3)

anon

This is very true. Likely the other magic circle firms will be relieved and follow the lower increase, which is nothing when considering inflation. Shows a gap forming in the magic circle.

(31)(2)

BUNCH AND JUDY

REMINDER TO SUBMIT SALARIES TO LC TIP OFFS SECTION

FIRM – PQE – SALARY

KEEP IT UP GUYS, WE NEED TO SHED LIGHT ON SALARY BUNCHING.

(49)(5)

Anon

Prestige of the firm is in rapid relative decline and this isn’t enough to halt it. If they were serious they would line up with the US firms. No evidence the PEP is as high as sometimes reported, likely around the Macfarlanes level maybe a bit higher.

(42)(16)

Freedom of Information

I have often thought the reported Slaughters PEP is exaggerated. I get they don’t have all the international offices other MC firms have but really, £2.5m+?

If they have nothing to hide, why would they not change from a traditional partnership? It’s archaic not to have converted to an LLP and they’re happy to use limited liability companies for various parts of their operations (just search Slaughter and May on Companies House). They clearly think it’s a great unique selling point (jog on) while allowing them to keep their numbers out of the public domain.

(32)(4)

Different view

I agree 25%. SM don’t have many (yes, some) highflying partners leaving so they are clearly being kept happy high up the chain and this would also go to show that the clients are being kept happy. If SM couldn’t service the clients then the highflying partners would leave to a firm (probably US firm) who could better service their clients. I don’t think prestige is reflected in what NQs get paid, it goes a bit deeper than that.

(43)(1)

Careful what you wish for

People on here (wrongly) talk a lot about prestige in relation to salary. Do you think it screams prestige that FF are now moving all their back office staff (i.e non lawyers) to Eastern Europe? You might not care now, but when your non-billables increase due to lack of support on the ground, and your billable hours also increase exponentially to pay for the increases, you might not be so happy.

(8)(0)

Anon

Salaries paid ≠ quality of work / prestige. Only students think this way.

(59)(1)

Free

Completely true. I bloody hated a lot of my time there, but I can’t deny the prestige or training I got.

(15)(1)

Roops

🐔🍲

(1)(0)

Welp

Fair play slaughters. Never thought I’d see this historic snail be the first to match.

(24)(24)

Slaughtered

Except they didn’t match – they cheated out by 10k

(111)(3)

Libeturd Leftie

Cheated? Isn’t the correct perspective, they raised to an amount they feel commensurate with the task at hand, as pertains to the work?

Seeking clarity for a friend.

(3)(55)

Sad

Not really matched is it

(4)(0)

Slaughtered and Dismayed

embarrassing

(63)(2)

future slaughters trainee keen to delve in to multispecialist work with FTSE clients

i love this game

(31)(24)

No Cap

Wait until you actually work at the firm lol.

Then you will realise how much you hate the game.

(75)(1)

5 PQE - MC

What are the PQE salary bands now then…?

(42)(0)

Anon

4PQE now on 166 (up from under 130) and have heard that 2-3 is around the 140-150 mark.

(27)(1)

Anon

2pqe must be under £140k, as the new 2.5pqe rate is £141k.

(12)(0)

FF Anon

Higher pay up the bands than FF then…

(20)(4)

Anon

No FF considerably higher

(5)(2)

Babe

FF never increased associate pay because it didn’t need to. 1PQE is 130 then career milestones kick in (circa +10k each year PQE)

(3)(1)

Anon

Lol Cravath scale for 4-5 PQE is now £265k (plus much bigger bonuses) so it just shows UK firms are falling further and further behind…

(22)(4)

Anon

Cravath scale was put in place because of ludicrous US law school fees. Amazing that so many people don’t get that – no UK firm is ever going to match it, because they don’t have to.

(14)(20)

Anon

I’m talking about the Cravath scale which is available to the London office of the 15+ US firms that offer it in London… Simpson, Latham, Goodwin, Kirkland, Milbank, Gibson D, etc… I don’t think you have to do a US law degree to work in the London office for those firms, who do also work opposite UK firms on UK deals

Anon

@Anon 4:06 – That’s irrelevant – they are London offices of US firms who have to mirror that scale. If all UK firms followed suit they’d price themselves out of most of the client market. Even the elite firms already have to greatly reduce their fees to work with certain clients (and we’re taking big names in banking here). The fact is US firms are not stealing clients away from the top MC and it WILL get to a point where the pay war is unsustainable. Like it or not.

Anon

That’s fine you trotting this stuff out, but I’m 99% certain you are not at said firms.

(1)(0)

US 3PQE

I’m 3PQE at a US firm and I’m on £200k base.

Hours: I will do around 2,100 this year and did the same last year but I haven’t had to work a full weekend (max. 3-4 hours on one day a weekend every 2 weeks) in about 6 months. Weekdays I will be doing 9/10 hours billable a day and often work until 10-11pm. Working late during the week is fine, the only other thing I’d be doing is watching TV or reading a book.

I think my work/life balance is great. I have the money to do whatever I want and the weekend time to do it (holidays are respected too).

(34)(12)

FF Sake

Which firm?

(0)(0)

Anon

Sounds awful. So you can’t have any life outside of work except the 6 weeks of the year when you’re on holiday.

Wait until your partner gets ill, or you want kids, or a family member dies or something and you may change your view.

(6)(8)

Hmmm

What do you do after 6.30pm during the weekdays then?

(11)(4)

Anon

Oh, I dunno, talk to your partner, look after your kids, exercise a bit, see some friends, take up some sort of pastime.

Anonymous

Which department is this?

(0)(0)

Interested passerby

Lol no you don’t mate

(1)(1)

A&O Associate #24601

“By raising salaries significantly…” Yeah no – it’s a paycut in real terms.

Inflation is forecast to hit 8% in April so this is roughly a 1% paycut. Nominal salaries need to go to over £116100 for this to even count as a payrise which is something Mr Cook has conveniently overlooked (though I don’t expect the rest of the MC do any better).

(55)(7)

Anon

Don’t forget 60 percent effective tax at 100-120 so only netting 40. With NI increase paltry vs net inflation.

(34)(2)

Jax

Crazy tax bands wasn’t it 45-50 percent?

(2)(10)

HMRC

You lose the personal allowance at 100-120k so you are effectively paying 60 percent tax on those earnings. Even more if you have a student loan. When you get to 150 you start paying the 45 percent rate too on earnings above that level.

(27)(1)

Not regulated to provide tax advice

Just chuck everything above £100k into your pension. Mortgage lenders will still use your overall salary amount and it’s not like you were going to spend it on anything interesting anyway.

(13)(0)

Smith

Except over your pension contributions relief trails off too when you earn decent cash so you only get £4K relief each year. It is part of the price vote buying of the basic provincials who pay next to no income tax.

(2)(0)

Freedom of information

While the NQ rate is cheap from them, if true the large increases to PQE bands are good news but we need some cold hard figures to verify. Slaughters associates – what’s the deal at 1/2/3PQ?

(42)(0)

Anon

2.5PQE is £141k. (SM has always had two separate scales depending on when you qualify. People will now move up every 6 months rather than every 12)

(27)(0)

NQ

Yet another below market, through-gritted-teeth raise from S&M.

FBD has slapped them in the face and this response signals, to every NQ and most future talent, that S&M cannot keep up.

(56)(15)

Anonymous

Weak from Slaughters to not match the FBD rate. Not surprising one bit as S+M are always the last to move out of the MC on pay rises and always begrudgingly so – definitely a stingy shop when it comes to pay.
What is interesting though is that they moved quickly this time to force the rest of the MC’s hand. Now the other MC’s have a get out of jail free card to make the S+M rate the norm and FBD an outlier – as a man with vested interests I hope the others match the FBD rate and don’t cheap out like S+M

(26)(1)

1 PQE

What are the “concrete proposals in relation to work life balance “?

(27)(0)

XSM

More lip service to mental health and apps that no-one will use?

(17)(0)

A&O third seater

Surprised that a pay gap has now opened up among the MC. I think A&O is more likely to match Slaughters rather than FBD.

Contrary to most folks, I actually like the people in the department I’m looking to qualify into, though I am quite worried about what this pay gap is likely to mean. Any MC firm that doesn’t match FBD isn’t ‘just’ saying they’re paying you £10k less; they’re saying they won’t be attempting to keep pace with future salary increases in future/up the PQE ladder either, now that the longstanding assumption of pay parity has been broken. Of course, you’ll still be expected to work the same hours as FBD associates.

Thoughts?

(46)(0)

A&O Associate #24601

It was inevitable imo – FF have always fancied themselves as competitors of US firms whereas S&M gave up a while ago.

My best guess is in the region of £117 – 120k with the pay gap closing over the course of the imminent recession / stagflation. Anything less frankly just looks bad (particularly given record profits, high attrition at 1-4 PQE etc.) and risks being out-competed by even in-house roles.

(26)(0)

Questions

I heard S&M is the easiest MC to get a TC at. Is that true?

(15)(53)

Anon

Yes if you went to oxbridge and got a first you’ll walk in… easy

(55)(3)

Business, Development, Slaughtered and disMayed

A first from Oxbridge is certainly not needed to walk into S&M.

(3)(9)

Banon

But helps when it comes to easily walking in. Try follow next time

(11)(0)

PSA!! PSA!! PSA!!

CAN ALL ASSOCIATES AT ALL LAW FIRMS KINDLY SEND THEIR PQE BAND AND SALARY (BASE + BONUS FOR THE RESPECTIVE FISCAL YEAR) TO THE LEGAL CHEEK TIPOFFS SECTION PLEASE?

We need to get more transparency on this and stop these law firms from just flashing and flexing with 1 figure for NQ. Would be good to get as close as possible to the transparency standard in the American BigLaw market.

(55)(1)

truth

Is anyone getting a bit sick and tired of how the majority of legal cheek articles are related to pay increases? Guys, there’s more to life than money.

(14)(195)

Anon

The jury has well and truly spoken on this comment.

(79)(0)

Anonymous

man STFU

(21)(1)

Follow the paper

Theres more to life than money sure. But this is corporate law. There is nothing more to corporate law than money.

(53)(2)

Anna

Deep. Profound. Breath-taking.

(5)(0)

Lambs to the Slaughterhouse

New bands at SM from what people inside have said so far:

– NQ: £115,000
– 1 PQE: £122,000
– 1.5 PQE: £127,500
– 2.5 PQE: 141,500
– 3 PQE: £150,000
– 3.5 PQE: £158,000
– 4 PQE: £166,000
– 5.5 PQE: £174,000

(109)(0)

SM Associate

Filling in some gaps – 2.0 PQE is £133,500.

(40)(1)

US firm associate

3PQE at Slaughters now on £150k base.
3PQE at Cravath Scale now on ~£215k base. £65k difference just in base.

And we all know who gives the bigger bonuses. 3PQE associates at my firm got just under £45k bonus (not even including the extra ‘2021 is a mad year’ bonus on top). You’ll probs get a bag of peanuts and a handshake at S&M

(28)(10)

Lathamilbank

Wrong – 3rd class year at US firm will be around £170 – £185 depending on what fixed exchange rate they use (which most of them do). So not a bad move from SM if truly no billables.

Correct on bonus though, expecting at least £40k for third years.

(17)(11)

anon

3-4 year base at US elite is £225k… it’s not £170 (that’s the old pay scale from years ago)

(20)(2)

Lathamilbank

Do yourself a favour and do a quick google search or go on US law meme pages. Since you won’t take it from the actual US lawyer.

CravathPapi

Lathamilbank – if your firm actually follows the cravath scale then your pay would be c.190k-225 from 3-4PQE and subject to exchange rates etc…

https://www.biglawinvestor.com/biglaw-salary-scale/
I think you need to be googling…

Lathamilbank

That scale is correct, Cravathpapi.

Base rate is $250k for 3YE and $295k for 4YE. £170k – £185k depending on what fixed exchange rate they use (which most of them do). Fixed exchange rates in London offices span between 1.38 – 1.45. I mentioned the exchange rate in my first post.

I’m trying hard to believe people here aren’t students or trainees, but this is the truth if you’ve been in the industry / lateralled between US shops in London…

Anonymoose

Nobody is shocked that US is paying more than SM.

(5)(0)

k

So a NQ earns at a US firm earns more than someone who is 3.5 pqe? Yeah, I’m off to a US firm. And don’t say ooo they have good work/life balance, BS.

(22)(5)

Complain with a side of jealousy

Seeing how NQ base £115k, that’s still a fair bit of salary compression if those figures are true. The compression is even more emphasised when you realise how much is lost to tax et al deductions.

That being said, salary/fixed equity partners at my firm (smaller London shop) are on around £145k (might be up to £165k-170k these days). It would take 8+ years PQE to break into 6 figures. Must be nice!

I assume all eyes are on PM still… I don’t know what they’re hoping for.

(9)(2)

He's reffing

Any rumours of other MC/SC raising pay?

(18)(1)

Sigh

likely other MCs will but who cares, its all marginal anyways

(11)(2)

Kirkland NQ

Cute.

(8)(22)

Anon

Cravath scale was put in place because of ludicrous US law school fees. Amazing that so many people don’t get that – no UK firm is ever going to match it, because they don’t have to.

(6)(24)

Lathamilbank

This idiot forgetting about UK tax brackets

(42)(2)

Anon

This idiot is an idiot

(9)(2)

Anon

The bubble will burst my friend, whether you like it or not. Better make sure you’re deserving of the £££ before they oust you out. And oust they will!

(5)(9)

Freshfields

No surprises here

(9)(0)

TS Insider

TS rumoured to go up to 108 in July

(11)(9)

Anon

Little too late … by that time everyone else will be upping their salaries in the usual way. If they want to compete they’ll need to do better than that (they all will – slaughters included)

(17)(0)

Mr Five Per Cent

Just try working for some of the wonderful TS corporate partners, too…

(7)(0)

Greed is good

Really hoping there is another regional pay war soon. I’ve had two increases this year – could really do with a third.

(30)(2)

Anon

Of all the comments, it was this one, right at the end, that made me chuckle.

(16)(1)

lol

Alright calm down Gordon Gecko loool

(10)(3)

Regional observer

I don’t expect Eversheds, DLA or AG to increase again.

I think the 62-65k will be the peak of regional pay for the remainder of this year.

The only regional increases will be from other firms playing catch up (increasing from 50k to 55-60k)

(13)(0)

Anon

Walker Morris have increased NQ pay to £50k

(0)(6)

Anon

Who’s she?

(8)(0)

Pls sir can I have some more

Will Simmons / Ashurst increase?

(4)(7)

Captain O

Let me get my crystal ball mate

(34)(0)

Guesser

I’m bored, so wrote this.

Don’t really see Simmons raising- it seemed rather reluctant to in this latest round.

I can see Ashurst possibly increasing to 110k or so. They seem to have big ambitions for expansion in the near future (increasing US presence) so will be interesting to see how they pitch their UK offering.

TS is reportedly raising to 108k this summer ^^. They could really do with an increase as their offering overall just isn’t as sexy as the other SC firms (no secondments/no real overseas presence).

Macs, well. They really should raise to at LEAST 110k considering their mega PEP and low overheads.

(11)(0)

eh

why would a US expansion for Ashurst lead to higher salaries?

Macs has always been stingy lol… it would only ever match Slaughters/other low-paying MC firms… and only at NQ at that… doubt anything will change

(4)(2)

Eh oh

I assume OP just means they’re trying to position themselves as a ‘big time’ global firm, and with that MAY come salary increases if find themselves in a better position. I did a VS with Ashurst and it seems to be quite ambitious in terms of future strategy

Not the type of DLA/Baker big time global strategy though- that’s more of the Mcdonalds strategy- pile em high.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

What was interesting was the comment from Steve that some people at Freshfields and Linklaters may be getting comparatively more than us but apparently that is to be expected because they are “at the top of the scale”. Unclear what that means – all NQs at FF gets the same base which is higher than our base full stop.

What will be interesting will be what the bonus looks like now that it’s twice a year. If it’s effectively a normal Christmas bonus split in two then we’ve just been completely done over.

(13)(1)

Slaughters Associate

As to whether this is a decent raise will all depend on whether we get genuinely good bonuses in both June and December.

My base is now fine, add to that two decent chunks of change twice annually and I’ll stomach it given the firm has a refreshingly few c***s compared to reports I hear from elsewhere. If it’s crap, then this is a complete joke of a development.

(21)(0)

Anon

Always an overrated firm (at least since the 1990s), a gaping chasm has now developed between the absurd delusions of grandeur and pretentious “mystique” and the reality of a firm much closer to Macfarlanes and Travers Smith than the likes of Kirkland and Lathams which are the real powerhouse practices today.

(21)(18)

anon

I wouldn’t chuck Latham and Kirkland into the same group. Latham are actually good at things outside of high end PE (in addition to being very good at that also). They are more full service than Kirkland which is reflected in their slightly lower profits (broke 5 billion this year, but Kirkland just broke 6 billion).
Put it this way, I’d probably now choose Latham for a TC over most/any English firm (depending on how I found the vac scheme experience etc.), but I doubt I’d pick to train at Kirkland over most top English firms.

(33)(4)

Anon

Kirkland is closing in on MC turnover in London with a vastly higher PEP. They have the money, platform and scale to build out in any areas of weakness. The MC are strategically challenged but non more so than S&M. It may not matter particularly in terms of a training contract but if I was able to buy shares in them I would be buying Kirkland not S&M.

(6)(16)

Profits lol

Do you understand the difference between “revenue” and “profits”? 6 BILLION in profits for a law firm? Yeah… no.

(14)(1)

anon

sorry am tired

(12)(2)

Bingus

The fact you think Slaughters is similar to Macs + Travers shows you’re a student. Client base is completely different (I interviewed at Macs and they straight up said I would doing close to 0 public work). Department setup is also completely different – just see how TS splits their specialist departments.

Transactions are also staffed wildly differently (perhaps that’s just because Slaughters has so few senior associates though…).

Broadly similar in terms of pay. Hours will differ by department.

Back to first year public law you go.

(15)(2)

Fetch the Violins

Cries into my regional firm payslip

(14)(0)

Paul

If you live in the regions you can purchase a nice house for under £500,000. You don’t need to be paid much at all.

(8)(0)

Anon

Yeah, money goes so much further in the regions.

I rent a high rise apartment that is a 10 min walk from my city centre office. My apartment building has two cinemas, a 24 hour gym and a swimming pool.

My rent is 900 PCM (sharing with a partner so it’s actually costing me 450 PCM).

You’d never get that in London.

(2)(0)

Hey, I know you

10-minute walk cinema & swimming pool guy always appears for this moment!

(8)(0)

Gc

Bloody hard to get into Latham, I wish getting a TC was as easy as doing a lateral move smh

(8)(2)

NQ at Leading US Firm

Unfortunately we are going to see a compression of the market of salaries across US firms. They can’t go higher than maybe GBP 170k max because at that point you are pushing beyond the equivalent of the current USD Cravath scale. There’s no way US firms could justify higher London pay than the opening pay in the US (where salaries are so high due to the massive JD debt incurred before you can start to practice). We may see an equalisation of the U.K. scale for the top US firms with their New York office Cravath Scale for NQs.

But the magic circle and silver circle are seriously stepping up to bridge the gap which is the big surprise. For long these US firms could maintain a major delta of 30,40,50k with the US firms. Now with magic circle and silver circle firms going into six figure territory – FBD laying the big ballsy marker- the top end of the market is clearly compressing.

(5)(2)

Thanks, NQ at leading US firm

First paragraph of this is less insightful than you think. We all know about Cravath scale thanks. Also it doesn’t make sense – salary increases in UK are driven by NY increases so there is the solution to your “salary compression”.

Also whacking out “delta” in that context sounds ridiculous not intelligent or “corporate”.

I’d wager mummy or daddy got you into big law with a head like that on your shoulders.

(4)(2)

Unnecessary

Bit harsh?

(0)(1)

YourDad’sDivorceLawyer

1. This NQ salary is market
2. This now makes Slaughter the highest paying firm in the city (salary + bonus + prestige converted into monetary value)

(9)(3)

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