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Clifford Chance leaves Slaughters behind with whopping pay rises
03 June 2016
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Clifford Chance has given pay rises of over £20,000 to some of its associates, with 1PQEs potentially earning £95,000.

Trainee salaries are rising, too. First years will be on £43,500, up from £42,000. Second years will be on £49,000, up from £47,300.

The firm has adopted the same method of presenting its rises as Linklaters which, as RollOnFriday revealed in March, has decided to wrap up the bonus figure with the salary figure to give a total compensation figure. It makes CC and Links' numbers look very good compared to the rest of the Magic Circle, since Allen & Overy, Freshfields and Slaughter and May state bald salary figures, not inclusive of bonuses.

Backdated to 1 May, NQ pay increases from a salary of £70,000 to a total compensation figure (i.e. salary and bonus) of £85,000. At 1PQE level, lawyers move from a salary of £75,500 to total compensation of £95,000. Those are both on a par with Freshfields, whose figures don't include a bonus. But Clifford Chance London Managing Partner David Bickerton said that "the vast majority of junior lawyers" will receive the CC bonus. Called a "Binary Bonus", it will be based on an assessment of whether the juniors are acquiring "the skills and good habits of an exceptional lawyer".


Above 1PQE, the firm has published two sets of figures, one for lawyers who have made a "Good contribution" to the firm's success and those who have made an "Exceptional contribution".  The firm is following the approach taken by Freshfields, which has split its bands into 'Median Performers' and 'High Performers'. In a subtle jab at its rival, CC's version doesn't have 'Median' performers, beginning at 'Good' instead.

The result is that Clifford Chance's 2PQEs move from a salary of £88,000 to total compensation of £100,000 if they're 'Good', and £119,000 if they're 'Excellent'. 3PQEs move from a salary of £98,500 to total compensation of £111,000 if they're 'Good', and £130,00 if they're 'Excellent'.

RollOnFriday takes the figures in the middle of the two bands. Here's how it looks:

Allen & Overy
 £78,500  £92,000  £104,500  £115,000
Clifford Chance*
(old figures)




Freshfields £85,000 
Linklaters*  £81,000  £90,000  £100,000  £111,000
Slaughter and May

*Figure includes bonus, so give the others some leeway, ok?

Illustrating why its lawyers might deserve the pay, CC also announced an expansion of its remote working pilot scheme to enable associates to work anywhere at any time. "It is already the case that many of our lawyers work out of standard working hours to support our clients," said Bickerton, "and therefore we see working remotely not as a perk, but as removing a barrier to effective client service".  CC says a portion of their salary is for a "technology boost" with lawyers expected to "invest in technology" on top of the laptops the firm provides them so that they can "work effectively remotely". Thereby bringing about by their own hand a dystopian nightmare in which their inbox is projected onto the backs of their eyelids and clients can shout directly into their brains.

    "I invested in MindBuzz. It uses my pain receptors to combat fatigue!" 

Allen & Overy set the pack running when it hiked salaries enormously last year. A significant leap toward the amounts on offer from US firms, the others have now all followed suit. Except Slaughters, whose lawyers told RollOnFriday it should have jumped higher. Perhaps it will dole out bonuses which close the gap.


Feel free to enter your comments on the news story below, subject to our terms and conditions. Please note that comments are subject to moderation and so will not appear immediately.

Please keep it nice. Thanks.

anonymous user
03/06/2016 10:18
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Hopefully now shit firms like Jones day will cease being attractive!
anonymous user
03/06/2016 14:15
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Someone has already pointed out that the Linklaters numbers are not actually inclusive of bonuses. You keep reporting this incorrectly..,
anonymous user
03/06/2016 17:05
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You might also want to think about the headline again, there doesn't appear to be much if any pay rise happening here...

Taking the 3 PQE level as an example:

- RoF reported in 2014 that "CC's discretionary bonus scheme is fairly hefty as the maximum bonus available to an NQ at CC is now £13,500. At 1PQE it is £21,750, at 2PQE it is £25,200 and at 3PQE it is £28,050."

- Last year's salary was £98,500 and new maximum salary including bonus is £130,000.

- Old salary of 98,500 plus 2014 maximum bonus of £28,050 = 126,550. So that's a "whopping" £4,450 more.

Or, being more realistic about the bonuses that CC actually rewards, they used to pay 98,500 plus 10% bonus to 'good' performers (total of £108,350). They now pay £111,000. That's a "whopping" £2,650 extra.

In reality these salary "increases" barely keep pace with inflation.
anonymous user
04/06/2016 13:49
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Again, the Slaughters figure is base salary only. No one knows what bonus they will be awarding this year, though last year for NQs it was 8% or so.

If they award the same bonuses that they normally do at christmas, the overall package will be in the ball park of CC and Links (though admittedly slightly less unless they are generous on the bonus front).

Naturally we would all prefer higher base salaries (more useful in terms of certainty, pension contributions and mortgage multipliers) but to pretend that CC and Links are handing out massive pay rises is bollocks.

All they are doing is conflating bonus and salary in the hope we dont notice mediocre base salary rises...
anonymous user
04/06/2016 14:42
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Got to love the Slaughters associates defending their slave drivers. If the Slaughters partners weren't so focussed on their whacking great partnership drawings (not that I blame them) they could probably double associate salaries and still be the best paid lawyers in the City.
anonymous user
09/06/2016 14:57
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These figures across the MC really look meagre now given the news coming out of Milbank and K&E (who, no doubt, will shortly be followed by Weil, Latham, DPW etc). Partners at the MC are going to have a tough job convincing associates to stay when an NQ at Milbank / K&E (and soon to be the other top US firms) starts on £125k (plus bonus)...