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UK City Firms

Shearman & Sterling (London)

Along with Weils, S&S is probably the most anglicised of US law firms in London. It’s been here for ages - it arrived in 1972 - and the office is an established part of an international network employing about 900 lawyers.

Shearman’s global reputation is for finance. Financially the firm performed extremely well in the golden years of the mid-noughties, with particular growth in PEP in 2007/2008 when it stood at £920,000. Given the economic conditions, however, it's no surprise that this has slipped somewhat, but - have no fear - the partners aren't exactly sleeping rough. But the firm has had to deal with a few shockers in its recent history. Huge ruptions within firm management, the various hiring, firing, poaching and losing of big name partners left feathers ruffled all over the shop. 2008 was a particular low thanks to the spectacular implosion of its once market leading German practice. Shearman’s 30 lawyer Mannheim team turned its collective back on the mothership and formed its own, independent firm. Shearman’s now has a new management structure in place though, so fingers crossed, it’ll sort out its international strategy.

More broadly, revenue has increased by 3% to $112.6m (£74.6m) from $109.2m (£72.3m) and its London office has also expanded, though partner numbers remain steady at 28.

As with any big league firm you will be working long hours, but it’s not necessarily as grim as you’d fear. As one associate comments, “turns out Shearmans aren’t the hard nosed merciless bastards of US firm legend. They are actually very nice and prepared to meaningfully contribute to a successful work/life balance”. In fact, the "people are amazing", said another correspondent. On the other hand "Holidays do not always go uninterrupted by work". But the general consensus is that the firm is a very happy ship, reflected in continually  excellent placing in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Survey (third place in 2014)

Salaries are - as with most US firms - well above Magic Circle rates. And despite a freeze in 2009 (and, in the case of NQs, an actual cut), the cash has now flown back up to the standard US wallet-busting levels (albeit ranging wildly within bands). And we're told that there's a decent bonus scheme, so if you have a really busy time of it you can, in theory, still earn New York rates. Even if getting onto the all-equity partnership is thought to be pretty tricky.

Shearmans also provides a level of job security that's lacking at the London offices of many US firms, with staff praising the "good partner prospects for associates". The firm stresses that it has ambitious plans for growth in Europe, which already provides a third of the Shearmans' global turnover, and is continuing to grow in London. In fact, it's suggested that London has been slightly held back by New York's torpor.

And note we've written all that without even mentioning the Hooray Henry G4 emailgate and the gun-toting Parisian associate even once. Well done us.

For more information about Shearman & Sterling click here.
For more information on Shearman & Sterling click here


Salary (1st seat trainee): £45,000
Salary (NQ): £95,000
Salary (1PQE): £103,000
Salary (2PQE): £110,000
Salary (3PQE): £120,000
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: Yes
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: %
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %


Grant for GDL: £7,000
Grant for LPC: £7,000
Training places per year: 13
% of trainees retained: 100%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 92%
Development: 89%
Work/Life: 64%
Openness: 78%
Biscuits: 94%
Toilets: 87%
Social: 85%
Firm of the year overall score: 83%


Holiday allowance: 24
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: No
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: Enhanced, six months full pay subject to returning to work
Target hours: None
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: Subsidised
Restaurant: Yes
24 hour photocopying support: Yes
24 hour secretarial support: Yes
Other: Dental care


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