Legal Business Blogs

Slaughters seeks to maintain no billable hours culture with associate pay revamp

Associates at Slaughter and May will receive salary increases of up to 10% as of January 2017 following a major review of the firm’s pay structure, as well as options for working from home and a paid sabbatical.

The Magic Circle firm reiterated a commitment not to pay on the basis of performance and maintain its no billable hours culture following an employee survey.

The firm will keep its associate lockstep relatively pure, similar to the flat structure at partnership level, but unlike a number of US competitor firms which run ‘eat what you kill’ pay systems rewarding performance.

The changes to the firm’s associate lockstep scale will increase pay for newly-qualified lawyers from £71,500 to £78,000, while 1PQE pay will increase from £79,000 to £87,000, 2PQE pay will increase from £90,250 to £98,500 and 3PQE from £99,750 to £108,000.

The increases see pay boosted by between 9% and 10.8% for some associates. Last years’ pay changes at the firm were more muted with increases of between 2% and 5%. Trainee pay will remain unchanged at £43,000 for first year trainees and £48,000 to second year trainees.

The associate bonus range will remain between 9% and 16% in line with a new bonus structure brought in at the firm in 2015.

The remuneration changes will also see associates gain the option to work one day a week from home from January 2017 as well as 30 days’ annual holiday, while 3PQE associates will be offered a four week paid sabbatical.

Slaughter and May senior partner Steve Cooke (pictured) said: ‘There is a strong collective belief in our no billable hours targets culture and indeed 95% of associates believe that billable hours targets would have a detrimental effect on the firm’s culture. This clearly differentiates us from our competitors – in a positive way. Further, the overwhelming message from our associates and trainees is that they do not want to see pay differentiated on the basis of performance.’

This summer saw pay changes for newly-qualified lawyers at Freshfields who now receive up to 25% more than last year after pay packets were increased from £67,500 to £85,000 after discretionary bonuses were included in pay. At Linklaters, first year qualified lawyers will now take home at least £81,000, with 1PQE associates receiving on average £90,000.