Where do you fall?
The RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2024 survey is in full swing after opening a fortnight ago, and pay satisfaction is already coming into focus with over 2,000 submissions in the postbag.
Agree or disagree with these entrants, you can swing your firm up or down the rankings (revealed in January) by rating your satisfaction with your pay, career development, work/life balance, the office and amenities, the culture, and the management.
At Ashurst, “NQs keep eating my payrises”, says a senior associate, while “Bonuses are weak”. But there aren’t too many entries from the firm yet, and plenty of time for a rosier picture to emerge.
“Objectively, £155k is a good salary”, a senior associate at Baker & McKenzie rightly says. “But when you realise that is £10k more than someone 5 years your junior who leaves the office at 6pm whilst you run billion dollar deals, the pay bunching starts to grate…”
It doesn’t grate with a colleague who marked themselves “very satisfied” with pay at Bakers. “Bonus last year around £60k” probably helped.
A junior lawyer at Slaughter and May is phlegmatic. “£158k for 4PQE is a lot of money by any metric. We're clearly miles off from BigLaw, but we've broadly kept up with the Magic Circle, and I'm glad not to be working for an American M&A factory (even if the hours probably aren't wildly different during the crunch times)”. And the NQs should be pleased now, too.
An Allen & Overy lawyer begs to differ. In leveraged finance they work the “same hours and only work across from US firms”, but with “£50k less base and meek bonuses”. Maybe some happier lev fin colleagues will swing the dial.
DLA Piper is the king of the regions according to a junior lawyer. The firm “massively increased pay in the regions a few years ago” and “one or two firms have since matched this, but the vast majority seem unable to compete”.
For national firms, London weighting is often a source of tension and it’s raising its head already this year, scuffing the scores of solicitors in the regions who would otherwise be happy. “Normally I would say it is fine, but seeing what NQs earn in our London office is an absolute joke. There are junior associates there I trained who earn better than me!” gripes a Shoosmiths lawyer.
Sidley Austin (NQ salary: £159,150) gets a roasting from a senior associate whose salary is converted from the dollar with an exchange rate of 1.35. It’s “far from reality. If the firm wants to be competitive it needs to select its peer firms better and mark their comp accordingly”.
“It’s still a lot of money”, they concede.
If Paul Hastings can rustle up enough entries it’s a contender. “Solid bees and honey”, chirps a Cocknified associate. “I make £300k base as a 7PQE plus about £90k guaranteed bonus if I make my 2000 hour target which is quite easy to achieve”.
An RPC associate is just happy to be here. “Only 5 years ago, the magic circle was paying less than I'm on. Thanks, NQ pay wars”.
Will last year's pay rankings get turned on their loaf of bread? The survey is open to everyone in a law firm: you can take it below.