Only the truly dedicated need apply

Davis Polk has raised trainee salaries up to £62,500, making them the highest paid trainees in the UK.

New starters at the New York headquartered firm will get £57.5k, up from £55k. Second year trainees will be paid £62.5k, up from £60k. The firm currently takes on around four trainees each year. 

Davis Polk has now leapfrogged other US firms, with the likes of Kirkland & Ellis paying its second year trainees £60k. Davis Polk's trainees will take home a salary not far off that of London NQs at a number of firms such as Trowers & Hamlins (£72.5k) or RPC (£70k). And they might be paid in a similar bracket to some salaried partners in the regions - do get in touch if you know a firm where this is the case. 

Davis Polk's NQs are paid £147,500, plus a bonus, placing the firm in the £140k+ club with fellow US members including Debevoise & Plimpton, Latham & Watkins, Milbank, Akin Gump, Simpson Thacher, and Kirkland & Ellis. Not everyone has joined, and it remains to be seen how quickly any of them will catch up to Vinson & Elkins, which boosted NQ salaries from £147,500 to £153,000 in June.

The downside to such munificence is, of course, the long hours that will inevitably come with it, for the salary to make economic sense to the firm.

As someone on the discussion board once delicately put it, "the number of circles after the £ sign should warn you about the damage a year of that will do to your personal , erm, circle".

Whether you're delighted or dismayed with your pay, get in touch to spill the beans on your salary.

Tip Off ROF


Anon 08 October 21 08:21

I have very little sympathy for people who work any later than 7pm. I’m at a US firm and I alway log off by half 6 at the latest. If anyone asks, I simply tell them I have plans and cannot assist them at this time but will be back online tomorrow morning. No one has ever said anything. That may be because I am 6’1, 95kg (and lean) but that’s just another reason why every man should be lifting heavy regularly. 

Anon 08 October 21 09:12

The most frustrating thing about this race to over pay trainees and NQ is that the trainees and NQs often seem to believe that they are actually worth their grossly inflated salaries. 

Anon 08 October 21 10:12

@ 9.12 - they are being paid for availability not ability. This type of salary warrants all evenings and weekends at the mercy of the firm. That plus the fact they only have 4 trainees a year means they could afford to pay them even more. 

Anonymous 08 October 21 10:44

Anon 08 October 21 09:12

The most frustrating thing about this race to over pay trainees and NQ is that the trainees and NQs often seem to believe that they are actually worth their grossly inflated salaries. 


they are being paid for dropping any weekend plans / holidays at a moment's notice on a Friday evening when some deal has to be done over the weekend to be announced at 7am on Monday. doable when young and free of personal ties but  your personal life will suffer pretty quickly and you'll need a v understanding spouse because if you have any kids you won't be seeing much of them / be part of their life much. 

Anon 09:12 08 October 21 11:11

@ 10:12 and 10:44

No absolutely - they are sacrificing their life in return for the big bucks - I understand that. My issue is that they don't always seem to understand that they are being paid for their time not because they are superstars. 

Of course there will be some stellar performers but I have been on the other side enough times (at smaller national firm) to have dealt with a) staggering arrogance and b) quite frankly average to lackluster abilities from trainees/NQs at larger/ US firms.

We all have off days and I am one to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. However, they don't always make it easy when they generally have such a condescending attitude to me and my firm.

Anonymous 08 October 21 13:24

@Anon is absolutely right about this.

I work at a US firm, have done for years, and can count the number of times that I have had to work past 17:45 on the fingers of one hand.

If anyone ever asks me to I just ask "is this really necessary" and then fix them with a steely gaze while gently tapping the first few inches of my gargantuan dong on the top of the desk to a steady rhythm. The requestor invariably stammers that actually they realise it can wait until the morning and back away submissively. But that's jut another reason that every man should aspire to own a large and vascular wang that looks as if it had been grafted onto him from a shire horse.

Also, if I'm not sitting at my desk at the time then I use the countertop in the kitchenette in the same way, or the nearest wall if I have been stopped in a corridor. You get the picture, stop getting bogged down in the fine detail.

US associate 08 October 21 20:29

UK lawyers often say that there must be a tradeoff. Higher pay must mean longer hours, lower quality of life. But the quality and sophistication of the work matters. Davis Polk is NY headquartered with average profits per partner above $6 million. The hours aren't necessarily longer than the leading UK firms, but the work they do - focusing on M&A and capital markets - seems to be more lucrative, especially in the US. Davis Polk's London lawyers are probably enjoying the bounty earned by its highly lucrative US operations. 

Anon 08 October 21 22:08

@US Associate. Not quite true , the US firms have much leaner deal teams which is how they pay associates more and still keep PEP much higher. A transaction that would be staffed with multiple associates at a bigger firm can have just one which means more pressure and longer hours. 

Brian Scalabrine 11 October 21 13:34

@ Anon 22:08

What US associate is true though.  These firms, in London at least, focus on more profitable areas in general and therefore make more money.  So yes the cap markets team at Lathams/Sidley etc. will be leaner than in the magic circle firms, but they real edge for these US firms in that they have fewer less profitable departments and smaller teams in those departments focusing on advising their very rich clients.  if Freshfields stripped away or stripped down its employment team, environmental team, planning, IP/Data, competition, procurement, human rights etc., and focused on corporate/finance teams and work, you would find that they would be a lot more competitive with these US firms.  The US firms in the US are a bit more generalist, but some of these less profitable areas in London are actually quite profitable in the US due to a different culture. 

Anon 11 October 21 16:25

About £3,800 a month, less rent (£1000-£1,500) less taxes and living costs (£500-1000) and what are you left with ? £1000 to spend a month?  It’s hardly big bucks. 

Anon 15 October 21 18:19

Oh my God, the level of self-pity in these comments! "I didn't get paid this much", "I am 10 years PQE" *barf*. 

No one cares what your salary is, and you getting bent out of shape about how much a firm, primarily serving PE and VC clients, is willing to pay its employees shows why you're not being paid those amounts. If you want to be paid more, then go work somewhere that pays more. 

I am 7 years PQE and am making £200k, plus bonuses. My clients are all public companies and large investments firms. They're not hurting by paying me a good salary and expecting quality work in return. 

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