Which Magic Circle firm will be the next to budge?
CC confirmed it is increasing the base salary of its NQs to £107,500, up from £100,000, effective from 1 November 2021. The firm was unable to provide details of what bonus would be available on top of the salary.
The pay hikes by CC, A&O and Linklaters represent the second time this year the three firms have dished out raises to NQs. Slaughter and May and Freshfields are paying NQs a base salary of £100k, although it remains to be seen whether they will match their Magic Circle rivals, in order to keep up with the Joneses.
Reed Smith is raising NQ base salary from £90,000 to £100,000. NQs that reach their target of 1700 billable hours will receive a pay package of £107,500. And total remuneration will increase up to £132,500 for those hitting 2000 hours.
The Pittsburgh headquartered firm is also raising trainee pay from £45,000 to £50,000 for new joiners, and from £49,000 to £55,000 for second year trainees.
As the pay wars continue, tiers have emerged, with the elite US firms dangling the biggest golden carrot to entice junior lawyers. US firms showering NQs with a base salary in the £140k+ bracket include White & Case, MoFo, Cleary, Shearman & Sterling, Debevoise & Plimpton, Latham & Watkins, Milbank, Akin Gump, Simpson Thacher, and Kirkland & Ellis. Of course they're all paupers compared to NQs at Vinson & Elkins, whose salaries were boosted in June from £147,500 to a remarkable £153,000.
Meanwhile, regional NQs earning less than £50k may be at risk of developing green eyes when gazing on the sums offered to their peers at US firms in the City. Although some that value a decent work/life balance will be content to have avoided signing up to a Faustian pact.
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