Shearman & Sterling, yesterday
Shearman & Sterling is the latest US firm to announce pandemic-proof pay rises, by upping NQ salary from £120,000 to £135,000.
Shearman will also increase the salary for first year trainees from £45k to £50k, while second year trainees will be paid £55k (up from £50k). The firm is also boosting the salary for its associates, with 1PQE pay rising 18% to £145K; 2PQE salary up 19% to £155K, and 3PQE pay rising 19% to £165K. The US firm confirmed it has increased UK associate salary "across the board for UK junior, mid-level and senior associates".
"The competition for associate talent is fierce and these changes ensure we remain very competitive in the market", said a Shearman spokeswoman.
Shearman & Sterling held its pay for NQs during the pandemic, during a time when City firms and some of the Magic Circle cut salary. During the halcyon days of summer 2019, City firms were succumbing to the NQ gold rush with the Magic Circle hiking NQ pay to £100k. It was widely seen at the time as a move to turn junior eyes back from US firms, which have sprayed NQs with salaries of over £130,000 (and that's not counting the bonus). But with Shearman & Sterling, White & Case et al. increasing the wedge for NQs and associates, the gulf in pay in the City could widen substantially.
Outside of the astronomical US salaries, Linklaters has upped its NQ salary to £92,500, plus a discretionary performance bonus, which will be effective from May. Linklaters was one of the City firms to have reduced NQ pay last summer, cutting it to £90k, having previously offered a minimum salary and bonus of £100k, pre-Covid.
Slaughter and May's staff will also get a rise. A spokesman for the Magic Circle firm confirmed that "eligible associates will move through the PQE salary scales on 1 May 2021", following the firm lifting its pay freeze earlier this year. The firm has also carried out a full salary review for other staff, including Senior Counsel, Business Services employees, PSLs, Executive Assistants and Document Specialists.