Goodwin boosts starting salary for newly qualified lawyers to £175k

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By Rhys Duncan on


Pay war intensifies

Goodwin Procter has become the latest US law firm to increase the salaries of its London-based newly qualified (NQ) lawyers, now offering £175,000.

This boost, an increase of £15,000, takes Goodwin close to the new market topping figure of £180,000 at Gibson Dunn and Quinn Emanuel, with both firms increasing earlier this year.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows that the firm typically hires around 14 trainees each year. They have also been handed salary increases, going from £52,000 to £55,000 in the first year, and from £57,000 to £60,000 in the second year.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

This recent increase follows a wave of salary raises among Magic Circle firms, elevating A&O Shearman, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, and Linklaters to an NQ figure of £150,000. Trainees have also seen a boost, with their first-year pay rising to £56,000 and second-year to £61,000.

Slaughter and May is the only Magic Circle outfit yet to announce a raise.



Give the Magic Circle credit (particularly Freshfields). Their new NQ salaries are enough to dent the allure of US firms at NQ level.

What the Magic Circle can’t match is the US firm pay increase as you gain experience. Senior associates at Cravath-scale US firms are being paid high £200k / low £300k figures as their base package excluding bonus. That’s junior partner money even at the Magic Circle.

And the Magic Circle still seem to be shady on bonuses. At the US firm I work at, it’s crystal clear that if you hit a certain number of billable hours (1800 here), you get a certain amount as a bonus. We get sent an email with those bonus amounts every year so there’s no discretion or partner’s favourites being paid more, which was routine at the MC firm I was at before


Agree re: the difference at Senior Associate level (though not aware to what extent the comment re: junior partner money rings true, suspect you need to look at total comp before that becomes a sensible comparison).

Fixed billable hours bonuses are transparent, yes – but unless you are in a department that literally does rote churn work (at which point you are being paid for your time and little else) it just doesn’t make sense as a compensation model for senior lawyers – (a) there ought to be some element of reward for actually being good at your job, as opposed to just being willing to sit there for half your evenings and a handful of weekends a year, and (b) it just rewards inefficiency and incentivises time-padding.


You rightly identify the bonus rewards people who are prepared to work long hours recording truckloads of billable time, particularly those Associates who rinse a few extra grand from the client by being inefficient. What are the negatives?


You can get 350 to 400k with bonus as a SA at MC firms under the new compensation schemes. In theory, if you’re a big biller you can go above the set bonus schemes and get more.

Source: total compensation this year is 350k at 7PQE.

US assoc

Same total compensation here – US 4PQE


Yeah we know US assocs are still better paid, that’s not a surprise.

The gap is much smaller than it was though, and it’s no longer the no brainer to move if you’ve a good practice / good relationships / good partnership prospects at an MC firm.

You’re much less likely to be managed out at 7-8 PQE at a MC firm for one …


Why would Goodwin (a US firm) raise trainee salaries to an amount below the magic circle?

docusign connoisseur

because people don’t join firms for the trainee salary as much as they do for the nq (especially if it’s just couple of hundred net) – they just want a tc – and firms know this. once you’re at nq/higher up, salary becomes a more important factor so firms are incentivised to raise their salaries more competitively


W&C I’m on my knees …

Astigmatism 9000

Global law firm ? More like globally underpaid

Overheard at the garden Shed

What’s funnier; no NQ salary increase or, a humiliating £5k? Both are very funny.

Mark C

very good


Chance would be a fine thing.

Roger That

A fine thing indeed.


I’ve heard DLA is upping salaries soon… 75k in the regions?!


from who?


someone who works there


Lucky for the few that have been retained


If this is real when are they announcing?


Wondering when we’ll hear from Covington, Cooley, Dechert, Jones Day, and Morgan Lewis…


Who’s rising next Pinset, Shed, Stephenson Harwood?


Pinsents have already announced their raises


What’s Goodwin’s hrs like generally speaking?


I nv seen them on deals or is it just me ? Who’s their US firm equivalent ?


Paul Hastings, Cleary and Fried Frank


Tbf Goodwin isn’t (yet) that good a firm at least in the UK in terms of calibre. Decent PE and VC work but also very often their UK counterparts are sub-MC/SC firms.


So NQs earn slightly more here than Weil, Kirk and Latham…


K&E are followers rather than leaders in salaries. Despite being the no1 PE firm, they are paying NQs £170k


What non US/MC firm is rising next?


I don’t get your garden shed comment?

Super Hans

It’s an adapted quote from Peep Show, a brilliant and hilarious UK sitcom, where the commenter is weighing up whether Eversheds will raise NQ salaries by £5k or not at all


Ahh gotchaa, who knows at this point. Just discovered that pinsets is now at £97k

US Trainee

FYI Legal Cheek has outdated salaries on their US firm profiles.

US Firms pay Cravath. E.g. every year PQ, there is at least a $10-15k salary increase.

Meanwhile, MC / SC firms will salary bunch and can have 3-year PQs on 170k with similar billable requirements to US firms…

Weighing options

I’m hoping Dechert, Covington, Jones Day and Cooley address the recently-closed gap with the MC. Otherwise the US-firm moniker no longer means much to NQs financially speaking.

Fingers crossed

Whilst on the other end of the pay scale, I heard internal mutterings that Clyde & Co are about to announce that all locations are to increase to match current London NQ salaries, and London NQ salaries are to be increased to £100,000. They’ve been slow to the party but finally looks like they’re bothering to turn up.


No chance either of these is happening!


What’s your source?


I heard shed is increasing to £110,000 from some internal sources. Could be false but just have to wait and see.


I don’t know who your internal sources are but there is no way it’s going up to 110k.

They’ll raise by 5k at most and that’s only if DLA forces their hand.


I mean people said the same thing about other firms and look at where we are…

Shoosmiths is even on 90k 🤣


That doesn’t change anything. The last pay rise happened begrudgingly and only because DLA raised salaries so drastically back in 2022.

Salaries will rise a little but as the lawyer loves to point out Eversheds already has a massive retention problem at associate level. Raising the salaries of NQs by 15k while bunching the salaries of Seniors Associates further is not going to go down well so there is no planet on which NQ salaries at the shed will rise to 110k this year.

100k? Possible. Anything beyond that is just not happening.


I hear rumours tooo tbf..we’ll probably know in next few weeks


Stephenson Harwood to rise to £100k?

6 figure

Charles Russell moving to £100k and Kennedys moving to £92k


Not true. CRS to stay in 80s for non Corporate and non-private client

Really Poorly Compensated NQ

RPC please


Rpc nq what is the going rate there at the mo?


I guess if it does happen, you’ll be eating your foot then 🤣

Rupert (NOT “Poopert”); a US household name

The chicken feed is of a slightly higher grade at this shop, it seems.

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