The global financial system creaked in protest as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton cranked up trainee and junior associate pay to ensure that its staff remain amongst the most ludicrously well-paid in the City.

The US firm has increased trainee salaries in London by £2,000 and associate salaries by around £4,000. The hikes mean a Cleary NQ is now on £96,000 while a 2PQE tips into six figures. The rises don't take Cleary to the top of the US absurd-o-pay table, but as raises were also backdated to 1 January they're probably too busy drinking gold flakes and barbecuing unicorn to notice.

  1st seat trainee
 Weil Gotshal & Manges
 £41,000  £95,000  £98,500  £102,300  £114,600
 Debevoise & Plimpton
 £40,000  £94,250  £100,000  £109,000  £123,500
 Skadden Arps
 £40,000  £94,000  £94,000  £100,000  £110,000
 Bingham  £40,000  £100,000  £100,000  £106,250  £115,625

Most of the US firms continue to play in a different league to the UK when it comes to pay. As in previous years, none of the Magic Circle chose to compete with the likes of Bingham (whose NQs are paid £36,000 more than peers at Allen & Overy) in their 2014 round of salary reviews.

  Finally, there was no need for her to choose

Once upon a time US firms felt the need to shower candidates in gold to tempt them away from top UK brands, which were thought to offer juicier work, a more illustrious name on the CV and a better chance of making partner. It is arguable whether any of that holds true today, and plenty of lawyers rated their US firms highly in this year's RollOnFriday's Firm of the Year survey.

Though not for work/life balance. The perception that US firms expect their lawyers to live, breathe and eat more office than anyone else may still be justified, as demonstrated by the Cleary partner who advised associates how to 'superplease' his clients.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 20 June 14 11:09

Always pleasing to see exceptionally hard work rewarded. 90hrs a week, a small pay-rise is justified in my eyes.

Anonymous 20 June 14 15:12

Those salaries do sound rather large but if broken down per hour worked, which pays better:

1. US law firm;
2. McDonalds;
3. Greggs;
4. Poundland?

Answers on a postcard

Anonymous 20 June 14 15:44

And (again) from the story last week: " Allen & Overy has said that it will not be raising salaries this year."

Nice one fellas.

Anonymous 20 June 14 16:33

It never seems to be mentioned (possibly because people don't realise) but note that, although it is reasonably uncommon, certain US firms pay COLA of up to $100k to all their associates, irrespective of whether they are from the US or not! Also, at least one US firm pays UK associates at a year group above their level of experience (i.e. if you are an NQ you get the PQE1 rate). It is therefore possible for an English qualified NQ at the London office of a US firm to be paid up to the £ equivalent of $260,000 + bonus!

Anonymous 21 June 14 17:24

The increase by Cleary is just under 4%. Not anything major in reality.

Truth is the MC do great deals but some US firms are regularly on the other side so the work isn't that much different. The hours in many US firms aren't any different to the MC. I work at one of the firms mentioned here and I work less than my MC peers. It's a great environment and money is exceptional. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Anonymous 21 June 14 20:48

figures for other 4 firms grossly outdated... more like 98-100 NQ, 105-108 1PQE, 112-115 2 PQE and 125-130 3 PQE base

Anonymous 22 June 14 18:22

The figures for Skadden and Debevoise are about 18 months out of date. £98,500 are their current NQ salaries, whilst the other levels are 5-10k higher. This information can easily be found on their website so come on ROF get the basics right.

Anonymous 23 June 14 10:58

The hourly rate may make the £/h rate less impressive but given hours at MC firms are the same and (depending on department) in cases worse, I know which I'd prefer...

Anonymous 24 June 14 10:16

Interesting that this has leaked when the recent spate of departures has not. Anyone would think they were hiring.