US law firm boosts pay for first year London lawyers to $200,000

Wall Street law firm Milbank has ramped up pay for first year lawyers in London to $200,000 amid a mergers and acquisitions boom that has seen junior lawyers working long hours from home on deals.

Milbank announced on 10 June that it was increasing pay for first year associates from $190,000 to $200,000 across a number of regions including the UK, according to a memo seen by Financial News.

Junior lawyers at the firm are set to receive a pay boost dependent on seniority, the memo said, with the scale topping out at $355,000 a year for lawyers who started practising in 2013, an increase of $15,000 from their previous salary of $340,000.  

READ Junior lawyer ‘wage slaves’ buckle under 24/7 workload in pandemic: ‘It’s just not sustainable’

Associate lawyers in Milbank’s US, UK, Asian and Brazilian offices are all set to benefit from the new pay scale.

“We thank you for your tireless efforts, dedication and resilience. Have a great summer,” Milbank chair Scott Edelman wrote in the memo.

Junior lawyers at top UK and US firms have been struggling with a combination of pandemic home working and an M&A boom that has led to associates working long hours remotely.

“We feel a bit like wage slaves at the moment,” a newly qualified solicitor at a US law firm in London recently told FN.

Milbank’s salary raise is the latest move in a round of pay inflation for lawyers over the past year following better-than-expected performance among top firms during the Covid-19 crisis.

Milbank’s pay boost is likely to be followed by more top US law firms which typically peg junior pay to the most generous firm in the market; The American Lawyer reported that McDermott Will & Emery has already matched the increase.

READ Jefferies fast-tracks junior bankers amid burnout and battle for talent

Juniors at investment banks have also received pay boosts this year amid an M&A market that has rebounded strongly following a significant slowdown in March and April 2020 as the pandemic struck.

Analysts at boutique investment bank Centerview are in line for $200,000 bonuses, according to Bloomberg, while juniors at US investment bank Jefferies are set to have their analyst programme cut from three years to two in a bid to speed up promotions rounds and move them through pay grades quicker.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email James Booth

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