Clifford Chance has bumped up pay for its trainees from £46,600 to £48,000 for first years and from £52,500 to £54,000 for second years. A rise of 3%.
The hike, which is effective from September, means that CC trainees will be the most handsomely rewarded of the Magic Circle firms in the UK.
Allen & Overy has also increased salary this week, from £45,000 to £46,500 (first years) and from £50,000 to £52,500 (second years). Nice, although £3k less than CC over the two-year training contract.
It remains to be seen whether the other Magic Circle firms will also boost salary. At Linklaters, trainee salary stands at £47,000 for first years and £52,500 for second years. Trainees at Freshfields and Slaughter and May receive the lowest wages out of the Magic Circle firms with both firms offering salaries of £45,000 for first years and £51,000 for second years. £6k less than CC over the two years.
For a month's net salary, second-year trainees at CC could purchase a golden toad
However, the trainees with the biggest, shiniest watches in London are likely to be found at the US firms. Davis Polk & Wardwell showers first year trainees with a salary of £55,000 and second years with £60,000. Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin, Milbank, Debevoise & Plimpton, Sullivan & Cromwell et al pay £50,000 (first years) and £55,000 (second years).
Trainee salary rises at CC and A&O, follow the NQ gold rush when Freshfields hiked the pay for NQs to £100k in May. The Magic Circle and a number of City firms scrambled to match Freshfields (and each other); although at some of those firms, the opportunity for NQs to reach six figures is dependent on a discretionary bonus.
The pay rises in the City have been widely seen as a move to turn junior eyes back from US firms, which, without a thought for the bank balances of partners at UK firms, have sprayed their NQs with salaries of over £140,000 (and that's not counting the bonus).