Skadden raises NQ lawyer pay to £165k

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5% boost

Skadden has become the latest US firm to increase pay for its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in the City of London.

Base rates at the New York-headquartered outfit have moved from £157,000 to £165,000, an uplift of 5%.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2023 shows Skadden recruits around 14 trainees each year on a starting salary of £58,000. This rises to £63,000 in year two.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The move follows similar increases in December by US firms Weil Gotshal and Cleary Gottlieb, both of which boosted NQ rates to £165,000 and £160,000 respectively.

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Skadden Associate

The bigger news is that we’re getting an additional ‘one-time payment’ in January. This will top up last year’s salary to what it would be with the new FX rate.

But speak to the doomsayers at English law firms and you’d think it’s all stealth layoffs at US firms 😂


2008-2010 Survivor

Ah just you wait laddy, there’s a redundancy letter waiting for everyone someday. Careful with the gloating.

Oh and back to your Torts revision, you’re fooling no one Fresher.


Giant hamburger

The “one-time payment” is poppycock.


I have seen the email

Not true. The exact wording of the email is as follows: “… we are pleased to inform you that you will receive a onetime payment of £[ ] on 27 January 2023. Eligible attorneys are those who are employed by the Firm on the payment date. Payments will be pro-rated for attorneys who started during 2022. This payment is in response to the sustained downturn in the GDP/USD exchange rate during 2022 and is not intended as a standard practice.”

I would know because I have seen it.


lawyer-at another us firm

What are the size of the one-off payments?


In the know

It depends on what PQE you are. It’s the difference between what your base salary was last year and what it would have been had the new FX rate (£1 = $1.3) been used

In the know

It depends on what PQE you are. It’s the difference between what your base salary was last year and what it would have been had the new FX rate (£1 = $1.3) been used.

So for someone who was an NQ last year, they’d get £8k (£165k-£157k)

Skadden baby

I’m 1PQ and mine is £9k

Rupert; a US Firm partner

🐣 feed.

🦌 👦








It’s not an NQ raise as much as an improved GBP:USD rate across the board (now £1 = $1.3). The $ amounts haven’t changed


Disgruntled of Magic Circle

Links and A&O, where ur pay rise @?


Exited associate

Both firms are bleeding star associates to mid-market US firms like Goodwin and Weil.



Is Weil a midmarket firm?



In most areas yes


Upfront honesty

Superb in America, average in London.

Links forever

Putting the cat amongst the pigeons but the truth is the “star associates” at MC firms tend to stay on and become partners. There is no denying that good associates value experience over short term gain (£).



In the meantime Goodwin are laying off staff


Common sense

Also in the meantime others are earning decent whack with (relatively) sane people and not working 16 hour days.



Was the Goodwin London office affected by layoffs?


Goodwin Associate

Nope. All US based.



Not yet. Likely Q3/4 2023.


Kirkland NQ



In-house sell out

Cool story bro. It’s still a boiler room



This isn’t a raise, this is an FX rate change… but it does serve to illustrate the GULF in pay between MC and US firms.

Also cable is in the dollar’s favour for both the short term, and long term as Britain’s sway in the world declines, further exacerbating the pay differential across a career.

Continues to baffle me why anyone sticks around at a MC firm beyond NQ level…



Because they enjoy their job?




If you enjoy working there – guess what? You’ll also enjoy working at a US firm and getting fairly compensated for your work!



MC comp is perfectly good pay, why would I sell out somewhere I know I like working to take a step into the unknown for a bit more cash I can live without?



Spot the one with family money.

“A bit more cash”…uh huh.

Big Dolla Holla

By MC I assume you mean “Magistrates’ Court”?

Are you alright in the head?

Monthly take home for a Links NQ (assuming you have student loan repayment plan 2): £ 5,223.95

Monthly take home for a Skadden NQ (again, same assumption as above): £ 7,215.62

So according to you… 2 grand a month is ‘a bit more cash’…

And that’s before taking into account any pension advantage you get, any bonus payments etc etc.


No family money here I’m afraid, both parents teachers (one now dead…). Am also not an NQ, though I take the point there’s a clear difference – I’m simply saying that you can already have a very comfortable existence on Links money so if you like it (I do) and you like your work-life balance (I do) then really what’s the point in trading in your working life for incremental cash? Fully accept that if you don’t really enjoy the job or you see it as a time-limited career choice then you may as well make what you can, but not everyone’s decisions are driven primarily by salary.


Similarly baffling to me. Either go earn more at an American firm or go enjoy your life at a smaller firm for a bit less pay after tax. It appears common sense is not so common after all?


US Associate

My US shop axed two associates in LevFin over Christmas with no prior notice and we only found out in the new year. While a FX pay rise is expected the associates are worried as the deal pipeline is running dry.

The recruitment trend will change in 2023 whereby some US associates would move back to MC/SC firms for better job security and life style improvements.






I recently hired a CMS NQ to be my butler. I am planning on hiring a Linklaters NQ to be my shoeshiner.


Big slow duck in a pot of goo

Why do you come out with such drivel



Still peanuts compared to what IB & PE grad jobs pay for similar if not better hours (and without 2 years of unpaid law school). Only perk that firms like Skadden offer over JP or Goldmans is job security, but even that seems marginal.



…said like a true Fresher. Back to revision you go son, exams coming up next week. Good luck!



You forget that commercial lawyers are, by their very essence, mediocre. Those big buck jobs were never an option for most. Take the well trodden legal route, and if you bill your 16 hours, you’ll be rewarded with your very own zone 3 terraced house, a receding hairline and a failed marriage.


Not a fresher

Stop chatting utter drivel – first year analyst base pay at BBs is c.65k. Bonus hardly gets close to 100k especially in down years. PE grad roles are extraordinarily competitive (98% of IB analysts wouldn’t get one) and still don’t pay that much. Hours in IB and PE are also objectively worse than in BigLaw with the exception of a few sweatshops.

Stop spreading nonsense and get back to your books, fresher.


Not a Fool

Re: Not a fresher

c.£65k lol. Simply not true. A twenty year old fresh out of uni is earning £70k at a mid-tier European IB, working 9-7. Big boys at Goldman are paying leagues more than that, albeit for more hours. Have a look at some grad schemes if you don’t believe.


functional brain

Do you really think a 20 year old out of uni getting paid £70k is only working 9-7? At that age you’re paid for your time and soul, not because you’re particularly good at undergraduate economics.

‘Boy boys at Goldman’ consider themselves lucky if they get Saturday off. It’s a different lifestyle to biglaw, even at the likes of Skadden.


Bored of nonsense

Re: Not a Fool

Please see:

Also: Goldman notoriously pays less than other BBs at analyst/early associate level because they view the prestige of Goldman as being worth a considerable amount (esp re: exit options given most juniors don’t hang around there as a result of its pyramid structure).

functional brain is entirely correct: as with BigLaw, grads are paid to be available as and when seniors need them to be, not because of their skillset, which can be taught via YouTube in about 1.5 hours to anyone with a modicum of mathematical intuition/powerpoint skills.

As I said, get back to your books at whatever middling university you attend and learn some critical thinking and research skills.



Starting your comment with “Re: Not a fresher” outs you as a student who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Anyone who has spent a single day in an office job knows that “Re:” refers to the email subject (in the subject line), not the email recipient…



Wew lad

It might shock you to learn that this is, in fact, not Microsoft Outlook. They put the “Re:” at the top of the *comment on a website*, much like a subject line.

Smarmy regards

Your mum


@Wew lad

I see that I’ve lost the up/downvote battle this time, but the underlying point still stands – re. is for a subject rather than a recipient


Done both IB and Law. Lawyers get paid more base salary. Bankers get much more bonus (i.e. 12 months easy in a good (not the best) year)

Top Banks always richer than Top Law Firms. Evidence: That’s why banks are the top clients of law firm. Nvr heard the other way round. Many know which bank is the firms’ biggest client. Rarely a firm will be the banks’ biggest client.

Reason: Math. Law firms have a technical cap in their business model (barring listed ones which have investment arms or some with undisclosed investing vehicles but conflict of interest creates issues if investment size of the firm becomes too big).

Law Firms: Estimated max rev per annum = Max No. of fee earners x 24 x 365 (Hypothetical – no sleep, no sick days and 24hrs all billed).

IB and/or PE rev per annum (only based on vanilla banking business models): % of valuation of Assets Under Management. Valuation of assets is speculative and arbitrary (based on perception and bid/offer trends in the short run / always buoyed by inflation in the long run).

So Bankers always get paid more cause banks are richer. But they also take more volatility. Whether a law firm can be buffered from the market volatility affecting their clients will depend on whether they have diversified/positioned their client base with an understanding of the financial market trends.



Im sorry but was this written by a 6 year old? I actually dont know where to start with it.


FF Sake

The fact that you need to come on to a legal news website (for law students no less) to justify your IB / PE job choice speaks volumes on your insecurity re: wages. Go back to your decks, models and £60k starting, we’ll chat when we bill you 😉



Surely you can’t think that IB offers better hours than corporate law? Did you miss the Goldman letter last year where analysts and associates were complaining about having to do 100 hour weeks, every single week? IB analysts will generally be expected to be available for work every single hour of the week (except their “protected time” between Friday evening and Saturday evening). Even on a good week, 60 hours is the norm in banking – 60 hours a week would be extraordinarily busy for any corporate lawyer, and you’d only ever see those sorts of hours during closings for major deals.


Another anon

You’re right about the terrible hours in IB but 60 hrs a week isn’t extraordinary in busy US law firms (especially not in Corporate). Assuming holiday entitlement is taken (not a given), 240 (hours) x 11 (months) = 2640 hours. You would be regarded as a top performer with those hours but many ambitious types do this in skadden/KE/weil etc. And that is only billable hours (not total time spent working, which is much more).



Can someone explain to me how the US firms get away with laying people off? How do they avoid a litany of unfair dismissal law suits?


Doctor Murphy

Our labour law is somehow similar to that in developing countries like China in that unfair dismissal is almost non-existent if you’re paid in lieu of notice in accordance with the terms of your employment contract. US firms, when implementing stealth layoffs, usually get rid of you on the day by offering you a “redundancy package” equal to 1-3 months’ notice. Generally speaking, employees have no recourse against the firms in these circumstances.

PE funds aren’t as active these days and this is affecting the bottom line of US firms which don’t have a full practice outside of PE and banking. Layoffs like what Goodwin has announced will be inevitable unfortunately.


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