Slaughter and May today said it is increasing its pay package for newly qualified (NQ) solicitors to over £100,000.
The City stalwart said basic salary for NQs was going up to £92,000 from £83,000.
Factoring in a discretionary bonus, which last year was 8.2 per cent, NQ lawyers stand to receive over £100,000 a year in pay.
The firm said in a statement: “In accordance with our policy of keeping our associate remuneration competitive in the market, we have decided to increase our newly qualified associates’ remuneration (salary and bonus) to a minimum of £100,000.
“We continue to value and recognise everyone’s contribution by rewarding our associates in a way that reflects the partnership’s flat lockstep structure and by not imposing billing or time recording targets.”
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer fired the first shot in the pay fight last month when it increased salary for NQ lawyers to £100,000.
In addition to basic pay, Freshfields’ NQ lawyers are also eligible for a discretionary bonus.
Earlier this month Clifford Chance followed suit, upping its package of salary plus bonus to £100,000.
The Magic Circle pay increases are being driven by pressure from big-spending US firms which have move to hire top talent from the traditional City elite.
Leading US firms such as Latham & Watkins and Kirkland & Ellis pay their first year associates $190,000 (£149,000).
The elite US firms typically pay their associates on a matching scale.
When one of the leading Wall Street firms raises its associate salaries, the top firms will typically match the raise.
London-based junior lawyers at the leading US firms often receive their salaries in dollars, either at a pegged or floating rate.
The current weakness of the pound further boosts the spending power of associates at US firms compared to their Magic Circle peers.