Legal Business Blogs

Shearman maintains NQ salary gap with Magic Circle as pay rises 6% to £88,000 while trainees get 15% boost

The first US firm to release its London salaries for the new financial year, Shearman & Sterling has maintained the salary gap it holds over Magic Circle rivals, offering newly-qualified lawyers (NQs) £88,000 a year, £5,000 more than in 2014.

With Slaughter and May topping the Magic Circle salary battle so far with its offer of £70,000 a year for its newly qualified lawyers, also £5,000 more than the previous year, Shearman has equalled that increase to maintain an £18,000 gap between the two firms. Meanwhile, Linklaters has fallen further behind with its £3,500 boost taking NQs’ salaries to £68,500.

The new rate for NQs represents a 6% increase on the £83,000 basic it offered in 2014 and is 11% higher than in 2013, when salaries for newly qualified lawyers stood at £78,000. However, pay bands for associates with more experience were frozen as those with three-and-a-half to six years post-qualification experience earning between £115,000 and £145,000.

The increases, which took effect from 1 May 2015, will also see basic pay for first year trainees rise 15% from £39,000 to £45,000. The salaries of second year trainees will rise 14% from £44,000 to £50,000. These increases see the firm leapfrog the likes of Slaughters and Hogan Lovells in London’s legal salary war, having previously paid less than those rivals for trainees.

London managing partner Nick Buckworth (pictured) commented: ‘We are committed to ensuring our talented lawyers and trainees are rewarded and recognised for their contribution to the firm’s growth and success. This move, combined with our career development programme is part of our strategy to ensure we attract and retain the top talent in the market.’

During the firm’s latest recruitment round, Shearman expanded its trainee intake with 16 planned to join in September, while the firm currently has 14 first years and 13 second years.

The London office reported record revenue for the 12 months to 31 December 2014, with income increasing 7% to $144.6m.