Gump

"Run Akin! Run!" Gump's salary rockets.


Akin Gump's newly qualified lawyers in the UK will be paid a converted salary that works out at a whopping £179k - the highest salary in the land, and they may not be alone*. 

In April, RollOnFriday revealed that Akin Gump's NQ lawyers in London were among the highest paid in the City, with a salary of £164k, due to the Foreign Exchange rate adopted by the firm in April (£1 = US$1.3109). 

However, in an internal memo seen by RollOnFriday, Akin Gump has plumped for a conversion rate for the London office of £1 = US$1.2005 from July to September 2022, as the pound has weakened against the dollar. 

The Washington DC firm's rise may cause palpitations for management at other firms praying for the pay war to cool. It is understood that Akin Gump reviews the conversion rate every three months: so the salary could move again, depending on the FX rate in October. 

Akin Gump matched the Cravath scale in the US earlier this year. According to RoF's orange calculator, here are the firm's current base salaries (not including bonuses) converted with the newly-adopted exchange rate:

NQ & 1 PQE: $215,000 (£179,092)
2PQE: $225,000 (£187,421)
3PQE: $250,000 (£208,246)
4PQE: $295,000 (£245,730)
5PQE: $345,000 (£287,380)
6PQE: $370,000 (£308,204)
7PQE: $400,000 (£333,194)
8PQE: $415,000 (£345,689)

The biggest salary hikes across the City this year have been prompted by US firms seeking to match or outdo each other across the pond, with the Cravath salary scale adopted by some BigLaw firms, then being converted to sterling salaries in London. 

The London branches of US firms, generally take one of two approaches in paying their London lawyers in line with their US colleagues. One option is a floating spot rate depending on the FX rate each month (Akin Gump does this on a three-month basis); with some firms having an upper and lower cap, to limit the level of fluctuation. The other main option is for firms to stick with a set rate at the outset, so that the sterling salary is fixed.

It is understood that Goodwin Procter (NQ salary of £161,500), is one of the US firms that opted for the latter approach, with a set sterling salary. Other BigLaw firms that chose the former approach (a floating spot rate) should be paying their lawyers in the same region as Akin Gump this month, unless there is a cap.

It seems that Akin Gump keeps most of its staff happy when it comes to salary, not just the lawyers. In the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2022, many of the business services staff praised the firm for its generosity, with one saying they didn't ever want to leave Akin Gump, due to the pay. While a lawyer succinctly summed up their salary: "Phat."


*RoF understands that other US firms adopt a similar approach - get in touch to confirm if your firm is also paying its NQs a salary of £179k, or more...

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Comments

Jediboy 08 July 22 08:36

Firms which have lots of US qualified associates do this to avoid a 2 tier pay structure.

Anon 08 July 22 09:01

That is serious wonga for lawyers who basically still know diddly squat. Good luck to them though.

Cripes 08 July 22 09:05

This isn't a million miles away from what some decent UK firms are paying their salaried partners after a 10+ year track...

Sensible 08 July 22 09:14

As previously, some firms pay Cravath rates at a floating exchange rate, some fix FX periodically.

Akin Gump hasn’t increased salaries, FX has just moved.

It’s the same for a bunch of other firms, so it is just incorrect to say Akin is the top paying firm in the City and other Cravath scale firms pay less. RoF makes this mistake every time and it’s always Akin they mention. Wonder if somebody bunged them a few quid.

Also Akin has a pretty small office in London, mostly built around bond restructuring, so it’s not a direct comparator for most firms anyway.

NQ 08 July 22 09:15

Not the worst place to work too; the firm leadership (DC/London) is trailblazingly kind.

Current Akin associate 08 July 22 09:32

It’s true that we are paid handsomely however, hours are excruciating and the culture is ghastly. Many of us choose to stay because of the pay only, while sacrificing our soul and enduring drivels and unreasonable demands on a daily basis. 

Underperformers get “managed out” at the earliest possible opportunity and the culture is very much “bill 15-18 hours a day unless you don’t want to stay on”. While I earn nearly £150k more as a 5+PQE (compared to my UK peers) I’m consistently at 180-210% utilisation and overworked. Not discouraging people to join this firm (or other elite US), but the truth is rarely exposed and people should be aware of it. 

@NQ 08 July 22 09:15 08 July 22 10:23

Too green. The truth is the complete opposite. Billable target is lower than our rivals but your unlikely to be billing less than 2500 as an average associate. And management surely is cognisant of it. Prefer MC/SC hours with good culture? Take a pay cut and go to MC/SC for work/life balance. 

@10.23 08 July 22 10:37

@ 10.23 - It is a sad state of affairs when you choose the MC or SC for better work like balance! Go in-house and actually have a life (and probably still a decent salary)

Lathamer 08 July 22 10:59

Only one top US firm fixes at a horrendous exchange rate of… 1.45… Latham…

That’s now c. £30k+ less at junior level than Akin Gump or any number of better-paying firms (difference greater when bonuses taken into account and exchanged at different fx). Firms that outright admit they don’t pay NY Cravath rates even have higher NQ salaries than us (our NQ base is under 150).

I know we are well-paid compared to the Uk firms but the difference is now outstanding compared to our “peers” and we are effectively bottom for pay of the US firms.

Anonymous 08 July 22 11:00

If you are consistently on 180-210% then leave.

It will do long term damage to your health and your 40 something self will not thank you.

Potter Fan 08 July 22 11:10

Replying to Current Akin Associate at 09:32

You should set up an outsourcing shop and have a locum working for you.

Akin Fan 08 July 22 11:25

Not sure if there is truth to the comments on bad culture/hours…I was more overworked and miserable at a large UK firm. Perhaps it varies from team to team.

Roger That 08 July 22 11:41

K&E uses a floating spot rate determined on the first BD of every month with a cap and collar. The collar is 1.25, so we’re paid less than AG associates currently. I don’t recall what the cap is given how weak sterling has been for my last four miserable years in the gherkin. 

Anonymous 08 July 22 12:36

Madness. Their clients are paying crazy rates for overtired, underexperienced people working 2k+ hours chargeable a year. 

Buster 08 July 22 12:39

As an MC senior associate I’ve never come across AG on any deals. I’m not entirely sure if its right to even call it a “mid-market practice”. Unsurprised by the long hours but you wouldn’t be doing the same quality work as in MC. MC is and will always be market leading in UK and abroad. 

Jeb Bush 08 July 22 12:41

£179k is higher than the starting Partner salaries in London, for firms like Clyde & Co, Addleshaw Goddard, Pinsent Masons, RPC, CMS, Watson Farley Williams, HFW, Bird & Bird, DWF, Squire Patton Boggs, Withers, Farrers.

 

This is getting ludicrous. 

Mid-tier Senior Associate / ex-SC 08 July 22 13:36

@ Akin fan 11:25 Completely agree. Bad culture can arise anywhere. I was at SC firm. Hours weren't horrendous compared to MC/US but partner in charge of team was awful. Demanded immediate responses and everything had to be done perfectly in her way or else you'd get an earful. To the point where I missed a call, called straight back and said I was just at Sainsburys on my lunch break and it was brought up as a negative point at my appraisal.

Left and joined a mid-tier city firm and culture is far nicer. Salary not as good sure, but still six figures so can't really complain in the grand scheme of things.

Think of your mental health.

Anon 08 July 22 13:51

“MC is and will always be market leading in UK and abroad.”

have you ever heard of New York and Chicago? 

SecularJurist 08 July 22 19:38

"Ramming speed!"

Wonder if clients read RoF, to get an idea of firms' culture as well as whether they get value for money?They won't be impressed by being billed for work done by drones which is then duplicated by SPs, either.

SecularJurist 08 July 22 19:58

AG NQs should not be considering marriage, even if they are now top earners. Otherwise they will soon be looking at brochures for private schools and estate agents' websites; they will then be at AG for life, an empty shell.

AG Associate: build a six-(or seven) going away fund then go in-house, or into consultancy or business services. I think the metal health advice is also useful.

 

Unimpressed 08 July 22 20:26

I am a senior at a US firm in London - good to know I get paid what a 3 PQE at AG does - unbelievable. 

Current Akin associate 09 July 22 01:18

Literally just finished work (early for a Friday in months) and saw the above messages. Working here is a life choice. If you weren’t born with a golden key a high salary can be life-changing. I’ve gained over 12kg since I joined a few years ago as a result of lack of exercise/binge eating at work. Is it worth it? Hell yes because the money outweigh all the negatives such as the abysmal culture. 

@Unimpressed 09 July 22 08:58

Are you sure you are with a US firm? Jones Day, Willkie or White & Case ain’t “US firm” in terms of pay.

Question 09 July 22 18:43

Has Weil, Cleary, Latham, Skadden made any movements lately? Those “elite” firms seem to have stagnated…

Mother 12 July 22 05:29

Do working mothers even have good prospects in these types of environments? Do they thrive at all or do they get “managed out” early? Like do they even have any leeway for working parents to leave the office slightly earlier etc?! 

Anon 12 July 22 11:24

Response to Question 09 July 22 18:43:  Weil has recently raised NQ salary to £160,000.

Gumper 14 July 22 14:55

Response to Mother 12 July 22 05:29 - yes, there are plenty of parents (male and female) who make use of flexible working hours / part time options, and there are a number of examples of mothers being made up to partner whilst on mat leave. Certainly not a "managed out" situation, in my experience.

Anonymous 15 July 22 07:04

It will depend on your position when you start wanting to leave early etc.

Male/female partner already or female senior associate pushing for partner (you are pretty much guaranteed partnership if you have a kid), you will be given lots of flexibility and basically can decide for yourself.

Male/female associate wanting flexibility for childcare - good luck with that. Be gone very quickly. Nobody is paying 250k for a junior associate to not have them available between 7am-9am and 4pm-7pm.

All in my experience, obviously.

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