Gibson Dunn NQs score 180

Gibson Dunn has launched a cash-grenade into the City pay war, by raising the salary for its London NQs to £180k. It is understood to be the highest in the land: but do tell if you're at a firm that pays more.

The LA-headquartered firm has increased the base pay for its newly qualified lawyers in London from £161,700 to £180,000 - a rise of around 11%. 

The firm has also upped its first year trainee salary from £55k to £60k, and its second year salary from £60k to £65k. The rises were effective from 1st January. When asked, Gibson Dunn did not divulge the specific salaries offered for associates in bands aside from the NQ level.

When US firms pay their London lawyers, some opt for an exchange rate to convert US salaries, which they set on a periodic basis (eg. monthly, quarterly or annually). The firms usually have a cap and collar rate, to protect against Trussonomics-type fluctuations in the FX market. 

However, Gibson Dunn has taken the approach of paying in sterling, not by exchange rates, so the £180k is a nailed-on salary. 

US firms across the City have recently splashed the cash on salary rises for their newly qualified solicitors, including White & Case (£150k), Cleary (£164.5k), Ropes & Gray (£165k), Sidley Austin (£166.5k), Weil (£170k), Davis Polk (£170k) and Paul Hastings (£173k). But Gibson Dunn is top of the tree, for now.

Meanwhile, in other US pay news, Chicago-headquartered firm Katten has increased the NQ wage in its London office from £108k to £115k, effective from 1st January. 

The rise means that Katten's NQ salary leapfrogs over the likes of Travers Smith and K&L Gates (both paying £110k) and puts the firm on a par with Macfarlanes and Ashurst. In the tier above, Norton Rose Fulbright recently raised NQ salary to £120k to join the likes of Hogan Lovells and Herbert Smith Freehills. 

Katten has also raised base salary at other levels as follows:

PQE  Previous 1st January 2024
NQ £108,000   £115,000
1 £115,000   £125,000
2 £125,000  £135,000
3 £135,000  £145,000
4 £145,000  £155,000
5  £152,500   £165,000

If your firm is raising NQ salary, do get in touch

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Tip Off ROF


Not obscene at all 01 March 24 10:10

What do they learn in their second year of the TC  to warrant a £100k payrise?!

Nonnymouse 01 March 24 10:39

This is getting stupid...in a few years some firm is going to pay their NQ's £200k a year. 

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:40

Wow, that is a lot of money. If you step outside of top tier law firms, you don't find these kinds of salaries anywhere at such levels.

Anonymous 01 March 24 10:51

I was on £60k as an NQ just over a decade ago, at a decent City firm. I think the spread wasn't massive and that was representative? Can't quite believe the kids are now worth £120k more, even with inflation. 

Copium 01 March 24 11:56

Cue all the comments bleating on about "work-life balance" and bragging that their pittance salary means they have time for Thursday yoga classes and Tuesday book clubs

Office Drone 01 March 24 12:02

Gibson Dunn probably also have to pay top dollar given the types of clients they serve and the nasty personalities they employ. When you look at who used to work for them, it's people like Tom Cotton, Eugene Scalia or James Ho, just picking a few. Ultra-right Republicans, Born-Again wingnuts ands their clients are often the very worst of US corporates. 

Don't get me wrong, all large firms have some people and clients that most decent folk wouldn't want to share a room with. This isn't about being holier than thou. But Gibson Dunn is really at the bottom of the pit for the kinds of work they do. I'd think twice about employing someone who worked for them for any length of time (but to be fair, they probably wouldn't want to work for me, as my business wouldn't offer 180k for NQs). :D

Hahaha 01 March 24 12:05

Sheesh folks. Get trapped in the hamster wheel for what you think are big numbers. Proper money is laughing.

Anonymous 01 March 24 12:17

Drone on, office drone. Big firms should be a broad church. Many of us who are sympathetic to progressive ideals are also sick of the kind of purity spiral nonsense you're espousing.

Anon 01 March 24 12:33

Does anyone at GDC know the pay bands for higher PQEs? what about other US Elite shops like Quinn?

Anonymous 01 March 24 13:09

Speaking from the client side of the fence, I’m not sure this is a good look. Suggests you’ll be charging like a wounded rhino to keep up profits and/ or employing fewer lawyers and beasting them to within an inch of their lives, which isn’t good for them or clients being advised by overworked, overstretched and thoroughly knackered associates.

Anon 01 March 24 13:13

Speaking from the client side of the fence, I’m not sure this is a good look. Suggests you’ll be charging like a wounded rhino to keep up profits and/ or employing fewer lawyers and beasting them to within an inch of their lives, which isn’t good for them or clients being advised by overworked, overstretched and thoroughly knackered associates.

White Shoe Lawyer 01 March 24 13:36

Anonymous 01 March 24 13:09


Don’t worry, we don’t need clients like you. Our clients are wiling to pay our high fees for the unmatched top quality product we deliver. If a client cannot afford our fees, we’re happy for them to go to “top City” / “Magic Circle” firms (whatever these mean).

Office Drone 01 March 24 15:29

@anonymous 12:17: please do tell me what progressive ideals I'm espousing - always keen to hear who I am from some rando on the internet. It's got nothing to do with purity or progressive ideals. I also agree that broad churches are a good thing, for law firms in particular.

It simple really: some people never want to get their hands dirty and the world must be black and white, the way they see it. You get that on the progressive and the reactionary sides both. I don't care about that.

Other people are selective and appreciate that there are always compromises and differences of opinion in life. You may not like what you see, hear or are asked to advise on, but you'll do it because you are a professional and your client is entitled to your best advice.

And then there are the ones that bathe in shit and will do almost anything if it makes them a buck. I count GD in that last category. 



Paul 01 March 24 17:09

Who’s the better Paul - Paul Hastings or Paul Weiss? If the two merger, would they just rebrand as simply “Paul”? Or two Pauls? And get offices next to St Paul’s? 

Kirkland Tea 01 March 24 20:10

Anyone got the tea on what’s happening at K&E? Peeps jumping ship…peeps being made to leave…cough cough 

Envious Junior 02 March 24 17:17

I hear Pogust Goodhead are paying £1-2 milliona year, if any of their claims yield the number being claimed. I'd be checking the small print if I were there.  

Cynical Bastard 05 March 24 01:02

This will absolutely definitely indubitably attract the very best lawyers, and not just the ones cynical enough to sell their soul for a few years…

(For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a criticism of any NQs taking the cash – milking a firm like this for insane salaries paid for moderately mediocre work and then quitting after 2 or 3 years before it kills you is a sound strategy if you can pull it off) 

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