US firm Ropes & Gray will continue to pay newly-qualified solicitors a minimum of £130,000 this autumn, in a ringing vote of confidence of its junior lawyers.

The Boston-headquartered outfit upped its salary for London NQs to £130,000 plus bonus in February, placing it among the highest paying US firms. Despite market uncertainty, the pay rise will also apply to the five trainees qualifying this September, all of whom are being retained.

Ropes & Gray’s training programme has been running since 2011 and is now made up of 14 trainees. Seven graduates will be joining the firm as normal in the autumn. 

The announcement has widened the gap between US outfits – some of which pay in excess of £140,000 – and magic circle firms, which have cut NQ salaries in response to the pandemic. Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May have all begun to reverse last year’s pay battle, which saw NQs receive a minimum of £100,000.

Washington-headquarted Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton also said they had no plans to reduce trainee or NQ pay.