When it comes to satisfaction with pay, the usual US suspects populate the top end of the table. But there are some interesting results a little further down.

Bingham McCutchen tops the lot with an unimpeachable 100%, meaning that every single respondent was completely satisfied with their pay. Little surprise when the "utterly obscene" pay for newly-qualified lawyers is £100,000, and the bean feast continues upwards. As one mid-level associate put it, "with the best pay in the country (at least at the more junior end), what's not to like?"

Latham & Watkins staff were pretty happy with the "money, money, money" too. The firm's NQs take home £97,600, which one respondent reckoned was a "high value on a pound of flesh". Shearman & Sterling ("well paid high quality work", "fantastic pay") and White & Case ("above average pay") also scored top results. Mayer Brown was highly rated too, even though "pay's not quite as stellar as other US firms". And Jones Day, which is best known for paying £50,000 to trainees did well too, even though pay is "not the best" post qualification.

Interestingly, the shipping firms also featured in the top 10. In particular, Ince & Co and Watson Farley have managed to keep their lawyers satisfied, even though their pay packets pale in comparison with the US firms. Comments from Ince - the overall winner of Firm of the Year 2012 - included "if you work out average hourly pay here compared to my previous (MC) firm it's probably double" and "we Incers...know that pound for hour, we work in the best firm in the City". So clearly a big number isn't the only thing that keeps employees happy: it's all about creating an environment in which staff feel well rewarded for the hours they work.

 

However, the bottom of the table makes for gruesome reading. Woe betide "not good enough" Field Fisher Waterhouse for paying a 4PQE "the same as an NQ". The firm's poor score was not much of a surprise, as respondents claimed its salaries are generally "non competitive" and bonuses are "non existent". Although one acknowledged "efforts are being made" to improve things, so watch this space next year.

Dundas & Wilson apparently pays "well below market" and salaries at Dickinson Dees "need to improve...benchmarking them against tiny Newcastle firms doesn't really cut it".  And Irwin Mitchell comes last by some margin with just 34%, with one lawyer claiming "the pay is terrible, and increases are rare".
 
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