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What do the Salary Increases of London Based US Firms Tell us About the Legal Market?

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The Times have reported that various US law firms have ‘fired the latest salvo in a pay war.’ Vinson & Elkins raised its starting salary for newly qualified solicitors (NQs) to £153,400, a 4% increase on last year. Similarly, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan increased their NQs’ salaries by £11,000 in just one year.

Whilst such rises are eye catching, its what they show about the current legal market which is more so.

Firstly, these increases are reflective of wider economic climate which has seen sterling become weak against the dollar, meaning US firms are not spending as much for these salary increases as might be expected.

Yet, aside from this obvious economic point, the salary increases are reflective of the cultural shift taking place within the city – as these US firms are throwing large numbers around, it is forcing the city to become ‘more meritocratic’.  With these temptingly large salaries being the bate to catch the much-needed NQs.

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