08 February 2018
Lawyers voting their firms between 60-69% for pay did not consider themselves in the poor house by any means, but they had a few more issues.

Issues with prestige, for example. A proud junior solicitor at Slaughter and May (69%) said pay at the elite firm was "Not in line with our pedigree. Slaughter and May is THE pedigree. Our pay should reflect that and consistently be top of the Magic Circle". A colleague countered, "but we get 5 extra days of paid holiday - a no brainer". A senior lawyer said, "We're paid incredibly well. We may not be anywhere near the US pay scale, but if you can't make ends meet with what we're paid, then there is something fundamentally wrong with you".

A Simmons & Simmons (67%) NQ signalled for a time out: "I feel like NQ salaries at pretty much all City firms are mental, so I'm probably not the best to comment". At Linklaters (67%), pay was "not commensurate to crushing hours worked in transactional departments", said a junior solicitor, but, "If you are not on the front-line and manage to leave the office before 10pm every night, it is reasonable".

A Baker McKenzie (67%) junior associate missed the memo. "I thought we were meant to be an American firm?" she said. "What the fuck? People say we're the McDonalds of law firms, but I reckon I'd make more by the hour working at Maccers". (That is almost certainly inaccurate). At Herbert Smith Freehills (66%) there were "some strange incentives structures", said a solicitor. "Pro bono counts as chargeable work (which is commendable) but pitches don't (so who would want to work on them?)".


Not only would he dodge the pitch, he’d bill the time to Lamp-O. Lamp-O never quizzed their invoices. 
 

The issue with Clifford Chance's (65%) pay was transparency, said a junior solicitor, "which has fallen off a cliff lately". US firms "are increasingly moving to the Cravath scale in London which gives you a pretty clear sense of what everyone makes", but "there will always be a sneaking sense that a less transparent pay structure is being used to allow straight white men, who look a lot like the majority of partners, to take home a little extra". The way Clifford Chance's bonuses "are rolled into the 'total compensation' doesn't fool anyone", said a trainee. "You can't get a mortgage with 'total compensation' whatever that may be".

The same issue was bugging an Allen & Overy (63%) lawyer. "I'd respect them more if they came out and said that our salaries were good enough not to warrant raises", said a junior solicitor, "but their insistence that our 'total compensation' (whatever that means) is top of the market is rage-inducing".

BLP (63%) pay was "probably just about market", said a junior solicitor. Or not, according to a senior solicitor who said "benchmarking is a joke - on pay we compare ourselves with firms with which we compare ourselves under no other circumstances". Norton Rose Fulbright's (62%) bonus structure was also "a joke" according to a junior solicitor, because "it is based off hours actually charged to the client, not just hours billed". So "if you work on capped matters or for a new partner quoting low, you can kiss goodbye to it". On the other hand, said a colleague. "I do have something resembling a life outside work. You pays your money, you takes your choice".

At Charles Russell Speechlys (62%), "How salaries are calculated is shrouded in mystery and requests for clarity are met with waffle". It was, offered a solicitor, "Very good for those in Private Client who leave at 5pm every day". Just "shit if you're in Corporate and constantly pulling late nights". In real terms, claimed a senior solicitor, "using the Bank of England calculator, I earn less now than I did when I started with the firm [X] years ago". The "same line is rolled out year on year", groused a solicitor: "It's 'market'. We're not stupid, we know it's approx £20k behind firms we regularly act against and consider our competitors".

There was restlessness in the Pinsent Masons (61%) colonies, where it "constantly rankles that fairly junior lawyers in London are paid more than senior lawyers in the regions that contribute a huge amount more". Things were on the up at Gowling WLG (61%), which "got the pay review wrong in 2016 but they have somewhat made amends in 2017". Sure, pay "is a bit basic", said another solicitor, but she said "they don't have to supplement their salaries with compensation for working with T**ts".

Meanwhile, an Eversheds (60%) junior solicitor reported that "Cambridge's paupers are still begging", but "recently there's been a real push to reward endeavour, effort and performance - at least in certain London teams". From the valleys came the wail, "just because we're based in Wales doesn't mean we should be paid as 2nd class workers".
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