Legal Business Blogs

Linklaters and A&O join Magic Circle peers in associate salary race to attract US talent

Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O) have joined Magic Circle peers Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance to hike associate salaries in the US as competition to recruit top-flight lawyers heats up.

A&O said today (28 June) it would pay US associates a starting salary of $190,000 rising to $340,000 for associates in their eight year. The salary rises to $350,000 for lawyers in their ninth year and for senior associates.

A spokesperson for Linklaters also confirmed that its US associate remuneration will be at the same level of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Quinn Emanuel Urguhart & Sullivan, which range from $190,000 to $340,000.

The move follows Freshfields last week announcing it would match the rates set by Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy two weeks previously, with Freshfields’ US associates now starting on $190,000 and rising to $330,000 in their eighth year.

Those salaries are slightly below those set by CC and now matched by Linklaters and A&O, which will see senior associates paid $350,000. Meanwhile, CC and A&O have implemented Cravath-matching summer bonuses starting at $5,000 for junior lawyers rising to $25,000 at the more senior end.

The latest pay rises come as City firms wrestle with fee pressure from core blue-chip clients, while proactive US firms continue to attract Magic Circle talent and inflate the market rate for the most sought after deal lawyers. With good growth predicted for Magic Circle firms this year, the associate pay increases could help steer some of the best junior lawyers in the direction of the established City players as US firms continue to stretch London salaries.