Paul Hastings and Ropes & Gray boost NQ lawyer salaries to £173k and £165k

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By Rhys Duncan on


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Paul Hastings and Ropes & Gray has raised the salaries of their newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London to £173,000 and £165,000 respectively.

For Paul Hastings, this marks a 5% increase from the previous pay packet of £164,000, and results from a change in conversion rate from £1 = US$1.31 to £1 = $1.3.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows that Paul Hastings take on 12 trainees each year, offering a healthy £55,000 in year one, and £60,000 in year two.

Meanwhile, Ropes’ increase equates to an extra 12% with rates previously sitting at £147,000. The new £165,000 salary excludes bonus and is effective of 1 January.

The firm has also raised its London trainee salaries to £60,000 in year one (up from £57,500) and £65,000 in year two (up from £62,500). It offers around 12 training contracts each year.

This is the latest raise in a new pay war ignited by top US player Cravath Swaine & Moore last year, which has seen fellow US outfits Milbank and Akin up their London NQ rates to $225,000 (approximately £177,500).

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How long until we see top UK firms at £150k and US firms over £200k? Not long I expect.

People who say the salaries are excessive need to remember that this will still be less than 10% of the average partner PEP in those firms, so by historical standards salaries of associates vs partners remain low.

Anon also

Thank you for making that point. I haven’t come across it before on these discussions and it’s very interesting

Milly boy

Milbank has decreased its salary for its associates by moving its exchange rate from 1.31 to 1.29.

This doesn’t stop London management from claiming to set the market standard (even after we have to re-raise to match cravath every time)


That would increase the salary.


That would mean that the salary has increased. No?

Milly boy

Yeah other way round. Was 1.29 now 1.31.


It’s 1.32.


Who will rise next? W&C?




we wish


Rumours are that Plexus is about to make moves up to £150k. Keoghs hot on their tail. Watch this space


Which UK firm you reckon will rise next?


Freshfields most likely. Won’t be anywhere near £170k though.


Any educated guesses on when and to how much? Insiders? Outsiders?

Links NQ

I believe in the past Freshfields have led with raises in July. Links then conveniently decline to match until their “regular salary review” in April/May a year later.

Trowers 4PQE

Please sir, may I have some more…peanuts?

You should leave

I left just after qualifying (a few years ago, before the madness). My salary is now over 2x (not including bonus) what an equivalent PQE associate is on. The hours are of course higher, but very tolerable.

I think Trowers seems to be a sinking ship.


MC rise at some point this year? Perhaps by FBD?


Nahh S&M just raised there’s 😂 it’s unlikely MC will rise any time soon. I reckon it’ll be one of the city firms which are not MC or SC


Plus bonuses they may be on 190k as an NQ


Remember you can be 24 on this salary. Insane 🤪 .


Insane at any age tbhh 🤣🤣


Ropes NQ salaries have been hiked to £170k


Does anyone know how salaries and the lack of increase at White & Case is viewed internally?


Why are you surprised? W&C have never paid Cravath scale. London is their biggest office now too, there is no incentive to stay in line with NY market rates


Well W&C pay Cravath scale in NY so not true. I imagine NQ salaries will increase soon enough given that salaries are now lagging behind other firms


They have never paid Cravath in London. That’s the point, so why expect them to match Cravath scale in London now.

I think they’ll likely increase to 150-160k max


W&C are not ‘white shoe’ nor do they operate a small shop in London. They are similar to Bakers in that respect. You can’t compare W&C to the likes of Latham, Kirkland, STB, Paul Weiss, etc.

Braginslaniganfanigan NQ

None of Latham, Kirkland or Paul Weiss are “white shoe”, nor are any a “small shop” in London. They make more money in their London offices than the vast majority of UK firms.


They rose recently to 56k, 61k for trainees and 150k for NQ check their website


Fried Frank and Sidley have raised too


Yess it’s viewed internally tight mate


and still no budge? What they playing at?


Can any city firm NQs or trainees confirm of any NQ rises?


As in-house counsel who regularly instructs top tier law firms, I wince when I see this. How can this be justifiable?


It’s justifiable cos:

– Fiercer competition for the best talent;

– aligning with global US law firm salary standards, particularly for firms with an international presence.

– they work some of the most profitable companies, banks and other financial institutions as well as high net worth individuals who can can afford to pay for such legal services

Mr crabs in a bucket

Yes how is it justifiable for firms with billion dollar revenue to pay their staff a decent wage? Sheer madness, worlds gone made.


Because when you clock off at 5:30pm (after a two hour lunch), your outside counsel will just be reaching the half-way point in their work day.

It’s like back office Becky being shocked she earns less than front office Francesca – you picked that life!

Eat the rich

I’d be even more stunned by the rates they’re charging you – they’re several times what the fee earners are actually paid per hour, and the partners cream off a huge chunk of the difference.

Kirkland NQ

No wonder my Lambo dealer was so excited today.

Paul Weiss NQ

Still at Kirkland? Surprised there’s any partners left.


Absolutely unacceptable for W&C to stand still, given every other major US law firm has raised/pays substantially more.

If smaller, less profitable firms can pay far more, then there is no excuse for W&C to pay 25k less than competitors.

This ‘mid-atlantic’ nonsense doesn’t wash – we work the same hours as those at PH and Ropes, for example, on comparable matters, for the same demanding clients, so pay us like it.

Seriously considering moving.

Real W&C Associate

Lol. “We”.

If you were genuinely an NQ at W&C you will have seen the email we received back in December internally announcing salary increases. Moreover, these are now public on the website.

Go back to your studies and good luck with applications.

A note to people reading the comments on LC that not all are who they claim to be.

F, Incoming Trainee

Thanks for this insight!

New numbers are on the website, but not been confirmed with incoming trainees? Pay increases are effective as of when?

Milbank Partner

Ha! Here at Milbank we would never start a sentence with Moreover,. Smacks of btec PEP!


Can you share the link – where does it say this?


Where does it actually say this on W&C website? I’m calling 🧢.

Astigmatism 9000

Look at the page with “our offer” > “training contract”


150,000 so 10k more? They should at least be on 160k by now tho do they get free food..

W&C trainee

We get free food, yes.


Shame Paul Hastings is still constantly loosing associates at a fast pace. Seems it can’t keep up the pretence of being a proper elite firm

Unassuming associate

This. Haul Pastings prob have the highest associate turnover in the City. Money doesn’t retain associates in the long term

MC Associate

The really interesting thing about all this, of course, is that the *number* of people on the payroll is getting squeezed through stealth layoffs, reduced trainee/NQ intakes and freezes on lateral hiring, whilst simultaneously the merry few who remain on the payroll are getting paid more than ever. The result is that headline salaries for junior lawyers keep soaring whilst fewer people than ever actually make that kind of money, and the ones who do are working harder than ever. And, of course, city firms are still only going to promote c.5% of their senior associates to partners each year – the rest will get culled within a couple of years of being told that they have no chance of going on the letterhead.

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