City firms are hiking up salaries for their newly-qualified solicitors once again, as pay in the US creeps over $200,000. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is boosting its starting salary for new London associates to £88,000 from next month, an increase of 10%. The firm is also offering enhanced bonus payouts for associates who achieve ‘bonus-eligible hours marks’. More experienced associates will also enjoy higher salaries.

Meanwhile, Ashurst has increased its basic salary from £85,500 to £90,000 (excluding bonuses) with effect from last month. A spokesperson said: ‘We carefully monitor and review our pay structures each year to attract and retain talent and remain competitive.’

Commuters arriving at the office

US firms are putting pressure on City practices to increase associate pay

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Earlier this year, Linklaters boosted its NQ pay from £90,000 to £92,500 plus a discretionary performance bonus. Like many of its City peers, Linklaters reduced pay when the pandemic hit, following a pay battle the previous summer in which all the magic firms increased their salary and bonus packages to a minimum of £100,000. Clifford Chance raised its NQ salary back up to £100,000 this month.

City practices are under growing pressure from US firms, whose new associates earn well above £100,000. London NQs at New York head-quartered Shearman & Sterling now receive £135,000, up from £120,000, while solicitors with one year of post-qualified experience (PQE) are paid £145,000.

It had been reported that Davis Polk, Milbank and Simpson Thacher has also upped their salaries this month, with NQs receiving $202,500, $200,000 and $205,000 respectively. Meanwhile, a memorandum circulated by Clifford Chance has revealed that US associates who qualified this year will be paid $205,000 ‘in recognition of their hard work, dedication and significant contributions’.