Ropes & Gray has given its two incoming NQs a nice surprise: a salary of £120,000.
The US firm is retaining two of its three London trainees qualifying this Spring and giving them a raise. Previously, NQs there had to struggle by on a paltry £115,000. Now they can hold their heads high in the knowledge that each is paid the same as approximately four NQs at one of BLM'S regional offices.
It wasn't enough to keep the third trainee, who was offered a place but is still leaving to do something different.
If he or she is after cash, there are relatively few firms where they can pull in more. The raise puts Ropes & Gray almost at the top of the market for NQs, above Weil's £115k, level with Sidley Austin, and a smidge below Debevoise & Plimpton's £127,000 (smidge = a third of many people's salary). All of those are US firms, along with the highest payers like Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis, where, brace yourselves, NQs are on approximately £145,000 depending on the value of the dollar against sterling.
It just remains to be seen which of the two NQs will spend their annual after-tax earnings on these spectacular amethyst wings.
The price the NQs all pay is the possibility of beastings so magnificent, UK firm partners can only dream of inflicting them. Although most lawyers in City firms have at least one colleague who moved to a US firm newly arrived in London only to find that it wasn't sufficiently established to have much work for them, so they take home a fortune and still leave the office by six.
Too few lawyers from Ropes & Gray's 130-fee-earner London office entered the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2019 survey for it to qualify for the final results, but those who did rated it highly for pay. The Faustian bargain was remarked upon, however, with one junior lawyer explaining that the main reason they would leave is "If 16 hour+ days became constant rather than regular".
Rohan Massey, the firm's London Training Principal Partner, said it was "a natural home for talented, ambitious trainee lawyers focused on international careers".
UPDATE: Weil's just told ROF they actually now pay their NQs £130k. £130k!