Ropes & Gray has given its two incoming NQs a nice surprise: a salary of £120,000.
The US firm is retaining two of its three London trainees qualifying this Spring and giving them a raise. Previously, NQs there had to struggle by on a paltry £115,000. Now they can hold their heads high in the knowledge that each is paid the same as approximately four NQs at one of BLM'S regional offices.
It wasn't enough to keep the third trainee, who was offered a place but is still leaving to do something different.
If he or she is after cash, there are relatively few firms where they can pull in more. The raise puts Ropes & Gray almost at the top of the market for NQs, above Weil's £115k, level with Sidley Austin, and a smidge below Debevoise & Plimpton's £127,000 (smidge = a third of many people's salary). All of those are US firms, along with the highest payers like Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis, where, brace yourselves, NQs are on approximately £145,000 depending on the value of the dollar against sterling.
It just remains to be seen which of the two NQs will spend their annual after-tax earnings on these spectacular amethyst wings.
The price the NQs all pay is the possibility of beastings so magnificent, UK firm partners can only dream of inflicting them. Although most lawyers in City firms have at least one colleague who moved to a US firm newly arrived in London only to find that it wasn't sufficiently established to have much work for them, so they take home a fortune and still leave the office by six.
Too few lawyers from Ropes & Gray's 130-fee-earner London office entered the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2019 survey for it to qualify for the final results, but those who did rated it highly for pay. The Faustian bargain was remarked upon, however, with one junior lawyer explaining that the main reason they would leave is "If 16 hour+ days became constant rather than regular".
Rohan Massey, the firm's London Training Principal Partner, said it was "a natural home for talented, ambitious trainee lawyers focused on international careers".
UPDATE: Weil's just told ROF they actually now pay their NQs £130k. £130k!
Sidley also pays about 135k. Most US firms pay above 130k now guys. Ropes is under market. Sorry if this spoils scoop.
Weil pay more than Ropes. Your data is out of date...
£130k? These firms are taking the piss.
Clearly it's not "taking the piss" as these firms focus on extremely profitable areas like lev fin, funds, structured products, M&A etc., work in very lean teams on high value work. They dominate the market in many profitable areas. They also are demanding, require long hours, hard work, good talent and average turnover is about 2-3 years with most having sod all partnership opportunities. So if associates weren't getting a tiny slice of the pie, the firms would be taking the piss and no one good would join or stay for even the average - the partners are already taking home many times that and into the (many) millions at top equity.
"The price the NQs all pay is the possibility of beastings so magnificent, UK firm partners can only dream of inflicting them."
UK firm partners do more than just dream about inflicting them. Having trained at a MC firm and them moved to US, I now work fewer hours than I did as a trainee, and earn about 40k more.
The idea that US work significantly more than top UK is a myth happily perpetrated by UK partners to retain underpaid talent.
May god have mercy on their souls...
£130k base salary @ Magic Circle / 5.5PQE / avg of 9.5hr chargeable and 1.5hr of non-chargeable per day