Sidley Austin has raised salaries for trainees, bumping up pay for second year trainees by 7% to £55,000.
First year trainees at the US firm get a hike of 6% which means that, fresh out of law school, they will be on £50,000. The latest increases will be effective on 1 June.
Sidley Austin's rise to £55k for second year trainees matches the salaries of fellow US firms Kirkland & Ellis, Sullivan & Cromwell, Debevoise & Plimpton and Milbank. It beats the offering at Magic Circle firms of £52,500 at Clifford Chance and Linklaters, £51k at Slaughter and May and Freshfields and £50k at Allen & Overy.
Sidley Austin trainees may wish to thank their masters for the pay rise, or not as the case may be.
The rise of trainee salaries comes at a time when NQs at US firms are being rewarded handsomely. Sidley Austin NQs are paid £130,000 on qualification, the same level as Weil, and a smidge* above Shearman & Sterling and Ropes & Gray at £120,000. Debevoise & Plimpton pays its NQs £127,000. And there are astronomical salaries at Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis, where, strap in, NQs are on approximately £145,000 depending on the value of the dollar against sterling.
A US firm in London, yesterday
The NQ salaries at US firms put the Magic Circle in the shade. Freshfields leapt to the top of the UK elite for NQ pay earlier this month after increasing salary to £100,000. But even that is £30k lower than the sum on offer by Sidley Austin, and around £45k less than that offered by Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis. The gulf is even wider at the other Magic Circle firms which all pay NQs around the £90k mark including bonuses.
The price that most NQs at US firms pay is the possibility of beastings so magnificent, that UK firm partners can only dream of inflicting them.
*smidge = a third of many people's salary