Junior lawyers at global firm Orrick’s London office can now earn as much as their American counterparts – if they hit a billing target of 1,950 hours a year.

Newly-qualified solicitors based in the capital will now be paid up to £150,000 a year, up from £120,000, if their billings are high enough. A spokesperson for the firm said client demand in London has reached ‘extraordinary levels’ this year and ‘we want to ensure that we are rewarding our associates and of counsel in ways that are commensurate with their contributions to our clients and our firm.’

From this year, London associates and of counsel who record more than 1,950 billable hours will be eligible for a discretionary bonus to bring their total earnings up to the firm’s US pay scale. The firm said the hours target includes time serving clients, including pro bono clients, as well as up to 100 hours of time devoted to training, diversity, equity and inclusion, and innovation and thought leadership.

It also includes 40 hours of ‘unplug time’ – when lawyers disconnect from their work – to help staff ‘recover and sustain top performance’.

London firms are under growing pressure from US firms to increase pay for NQs, some of who are not yet 25 years old. Last month, magic circle firm Linklaters increased the pay of its NQs for the third time this year.

From November, NQs at Linklaters will be paid £107,500 a year, plus a performance related bonus. The practice cut NQ pay to £90,000 last year in response to the pandemic, before upping it to £92,500 in April 2021. In July, it increased its starting salary again to £100,000.