Milbank ups newly qualified lawyer salaries to market-leading record high

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By Rhys Duncan on


Exclusive: £183k in London 🔥

US giant Milbank has upped its newly qualified (NQ) salaries across the globe — including London, the firm has confirmed to Legal Cheek — to a new market-leading high of $225,000.

While the conversion rate for British rookies is undisclosed, at today’s exchange rate, this figure works out at a whopping £183,409. No law firm pays more at that level anywhere in the world.

The move follows a 5% boost up to $215k last year and a double rise in 2021, when the New York-headquartered firm made headlines taking salaries from $190k to $200k, and then $200k up to $205k.

With Vinson & Elkins, Akin, Kirkland & Ellis, and Latham & Watkins all subsequently catching up to this figure, the latest move puts Milbank firmly back at the top of the salary charts. The next closest firm in London, according to Legal Cheek figures, is currently Vinson on just under £174,000.

For those looking forward to filling their pockets, however, be warned, it doesn’t come easy. Milbank, which has 200 lawyers in London, takes on only seven trainee solicitors a year, and is expecting 12 hour+ days, with an average finish time of 9:29pm according to Legal Cheek data.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List


Frustrated associate

Hopeful that Ropes & Gray may finally raise salaries after freezing pay last year, though pretty sure I’ll end up disappointed.

Frustrated Associate

White & Case too…

Truth Bomb

Why would W&C raise when they are, by their own admission, a “mid-Atlantic” firm that has never been able to compete with the “proper” US firms financially?

They have always fallen between Magic Circle and these US firms on salary and that will almost certainly never change: there are far too many unprofitable departments and offices in the W&C network. It’s really a “nothing special” kind of firm….


Delusional. W&C is one of the largest, most profitable and notable firms anywhere in the world.

They pay market rate in the US and LATAM, and it’s only a matter of time before the same is done in London.

Would be happy to lateral there, and always hear good things.

Truth Bomb

This screams like it was written by someone at W&C (and pretending not to be) who can’t quite come to grips with the harsh realities of the situation.

I know what I’m talking about. I used to work there. Anyone who is anyone pays “market rate” in the US – even the Magic Circle pay full “market rate” in the US.

As for “LATAM”, are you joking? If you are not at W&C, how do you know what they pay in “LATAM”? The only reason offices the firm has there are São Paulo and Mexico City – utterly absurd and completely incorrect to say that a “full market rate”
Is paid in those offices.

Beyond the initial NQ rate at W&C (considerably lower than at a proper US firm) there’s really bad salary bunching further up the grid, with only 5k increases in salary between PQEs in some cases.

Can’t compete. Won’t compete. Never has. Never will.


W&C have issued various emails to their London fee earners that they firm position themselves as a mid-atlantic firm in London and do not intend to pay full US rates. Market forces being what they are, it cannot be ruled out that they will be forced to abandon that policy though. Also second the comment about salary band bunching. The $30k a year increases you see at other US firms as you enter senior level just doesn’t happen.


This is getting ridiculous. 183k for someone with 6 months of experience in the department?

That said, not complaining – hoping the other firms all match (and raise trainee salaries whislt they’re at it).


It’s £183k for:

(1) A low level knowledge of the relevant area of law; and

(2) Being willing to deploy that knowledge at any time of the firm’s choosing, day, night, weekend, Christmas, even your own wedding day.

It’s the second part which gets you at least half that pay,


As a junior associate at an elite US firm (not Milbank) I would disagree with (2). But it’s vital that you set your boundaries right from the start so that seniors know where you stand.

I recall a few weeks after I had qualified, at around 5pm on an evening when I had plans to take a girl out for cocktails and dinner, a senior associate in the LevFin team meekly put his head round my door:

“Joe, just had a call from [name of sponsor]”, he said. “Would you be able to…”

“Let me stop you right there”, I said, standing up and looking him directly in the eye. “I have plans this evening, so won’t be able to assist, but I’d be more than happy to start working on a first draft tomorrow morning when I get in around 10”.

He was noticeably surprised, but, I think, equally impressed by my confidence and willingness to put myself first rather than being subservient to the client.

Since then seniors in my team have been very understanding that I have a life outside of work. If I’m free, I’ll lend a hand, but I don’t put my plans on hold because a client decided they want to have a fire drill.


and then you woke up……




Paying them for all of their time not their experience. Experience and time is what gets you the 5m PEP.

Kirkland Lambo

They’re not paying for skill, expertise and judgment!

Poor Eversheds Associate

*wipes tears*


Money affi make


All I would think about is saving but I just knows those hours will be hellish

CC associate

Millbank might be calling me

TC offer holder

What % of NQs last round left for US firms?

CC Insider

Not many, and a few weren’t offered a role at CC…

Pay War Enjoyer

Does anyone actually know what Milbank’s conversion is? It is almost certainly not 183, but what actually is it???


Rates get adjusted each year before bonuses are paid so no one knows yet…

Milbank associate

1.39 USD / GBP currently. Gets revised each year in January. Historically the internal exchange rate is far lower than the actual exchange rate, e.g. prior to being 1.39 it was 1.44 while the actual fx was 1.20 ish for an extended period


You’re not a Milbank associate. The rate is currently 1.29 and the bonus gets paid at the spot rate (so should be about 1.24 this year).



Kirkland Lambo

Kirkland, where you at

Even poorer pinset masons associate

*cries uncontrollably*


Oh wow, I didn’t know 95k a year was poor we must really be living hard times then!!


Who will rise next, that’s the question

BCLP frustrated associate

Well, that’s that then. I’m moving!


They don’t want you lol


That’s all well and good, but what’s the hours and billing target?


You’ll be on a lot pressure thinking I have to be perfect 100% I would think to feel justified you’re on that salary psychologically. I mean how much experience do you really have from doing 6 months in a seat lol..its mad when you think about it 🤣


We’ll have to wait until 4am for Milbank associates to finish work to get their reaction


And the work life balance is so great at the mid-market firms…

Milbank Associate

That’s the life of a city boy!


And so it begins


No milbank associate should be upset about paying for drinks


As if they have time for that


Just a shame that the US market is dead for new associate hires and probably will be for most of 2024

Bantersaurus Rex

So you think US firms aren’t going to be hiring associates for “most of” next year? And in what year in the past 20 has the “US market” for associate hires been “dead”?


Burna boy could see the future. He created an anthem for us!



US Associate

Warwick undergraduates are currently rejoicing



Sir Benedict of Banterton, Partner

Anyone who has a problem with this level of pay is invariably someone who made poor career choices. Bravo you young scamps!


Shoosmiths is now 90k NQ salary btw Legal Cheek – update it

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