BigLaw Salary Scale For London Lawyers Lifts Higher

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The biglaw salary scale just got higher in London following another US-based law firm lifting the pay rates for newly qualified lawyers to an eye-watering $215,000.

Reports from London indicate that Vinson & Elkins has joined the other Stateside law firms Gibson Dunn and Simpson Thacher in lifting salaries to £161,700 and £158,000. Covington & Burling has lifted their rates to £151,000.

Pay levels for the Vinson & Elkins lawyers with one and two years post qualification experience (PQE) now sit at $225,000 and $250,000, while a three PQE lawyer will earn $295,000.

The amount paid to lawyers in the UK generally is not set by any official minimum, but it is well known that London lawyers will earn more than those outside of the city, with the UK Law Society recommending a minimum of £22,794 for those training in London and £20,217 for trainees elsewhere in the country.

But the massive drive towards pay increases to retain talented (and hard working) lawyers has seen the salary hikes that have captivated attention within the profession, often with negative feedback too.

For the UK-based Magic Circle firms, the first year trainees salaries offered about 18 months ago according to Prospects UK was in the region of £45,000 to £48,000. Once trainees reach their second year salaries rose to between £51,000 and £52,500. But those figures have been eclipsed by the drive towards retaining legal talent during and after the pandemic’s lockdowns, with booming deals and highly competitive offers between both UK and US-based law firms seeing the BigLaw salary scale lifted to much higher levels.

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