A Gibson Dunn NQ celebrates by burning off petrol for fun: "£1.65 a litre, that's nothiiiiiiing!"
The LA headquartered firm has raised the salary for its newly qualified lawyers in London from £145,000 to £161,700. Here is the new scale for junior lawyers at the firm:
The rises are effective retroactively from 1 January 2022. They're eye-watering sums for young lawyers, although Law Students for Climate Accountability won't be applying.
The biggest salary hikes across the City in recent months have been prompted by US firms seeking to match or outdo each other across the pond. In January, Milbank was the first major US firm this year to kick off the pay race with a new scale, which was swiftly matched by its competitors. In February, Davis Polk leapfrogged everyone with the highest pay scale, and BigLaw scrambled to realign again. Although, within a few days, Cravath then surpassed that proposal, resulting in firms such as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett unlocking their coffers once more to match Cravath's scale.
The London branches of US firms generally take one of two approaches in paying their London lawyers in line with US colleagues, either pegging to the dollar (which means salary can fluctuate depending on the exchange rate each month), or opting for a set exchange rate at the outset, to ensure salary remains fixed each month. It appears that Gibson Dunn has opted for a set exchange rate.
Newly qualified lawyers in Gibson Dunn's UK branch join the £160k+ club along with NQs at Fried Frank (£160,000) and Goodwin Proctor (£161,500). Kirkland & Ellis and several more US firms are understood to pay in the same region.
The sums paid by US firms, which are pulling up those offered by top City firms, has prompted public expressions of concern from law firm leaders.
DWF's CEO, Sir Nigel Knowles, warned that "offering more and more money to young people is only a sticking plaster", and that massive hikes are "not a sincere, sustainable or healthy solution for anyone".
Charles Russell Speechlys, which pays NQs a salary of £68k, said it would resist, telling RollOnFriday that its approach was "not to make knee jerk reaction changes in response to these unprecedented labour market fluctuations, driven by US and Magic Circle Firms".
Taking a wider glance at the profession, there's also a huge difference in pay for those practising criminal law. This week the Criminal Bar Association slammed 'insufficient' funding for criminal barristers which is resulting in "the alarming exodus of prosecutors and defenders from criminal work".
RollOnFriday's keen to pull together pay scales across the US firms, and the rest for that matter - so feel free to send them in.