Top lawyer at City firm attacks £100,000 starting salaries
The senior partner of a top law firm has criticised starting salaries soaring to six figures for some newly qualified solicitors saying they are “unsustainable”.
“The levels of pay in major private practice law firms are completely unsustainable”, Richard Foley, senior partner at Pinsent Masons told the Innovative Lawyers Summit on Thursday.
“You see stuff in the press about £125,000 as a starting salary for an NQ [newly qualified solicitor]… If I was on the other side of the table, I would be thinking how much more value am I going to get from that person?” he added.
Junior salaries in US firms overshadow their UK-headquartered rivals, with some big firms offering newly qualified solicitors up to £140,000.
Pinsent Masons currently pays its London-based newly qualified solicitors £72,500.
The growing presence of US firms in the City has subsequently sparked a bidding war for the top talent and pushed salaries comfortably into six figures.
Some US firms in London don’t have training contract programmes, or have a small intake, so they have pursued an aggressive lateral hire strategy.
US firms are considerably more financially secure, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which saw some UK firms pause pay packages and furlough staff.
Between March and October this year 1,514 deals were announced in the UK valued at $148bn, compared to 6,877 deals in the US worth a staggering $788bn
US firm White & Case this month announced pay for newly qualified lawyers would increase by £25,000 to £130,000 from January and those with two-years experience will receive a £30,000 rise.
And Kirkland & Ellis NQ lawyers can earn up to £150,000 according to The Lawyer’s research, while Latham & Watkins lawyers can enjoy a £130,000 salary.
Salaries among the Magic Circle – the UK’s elite corporate firms – are considerably lower than its US lawyers.A&O and Freshfields offer newly qualified lawyers salaries of £93,000 and £100,000 respectively, while Slaughter and May offers £83,000.