White & Case City NQs to take home £105k as firm boosts UK salaries by up to 19%

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White & Case is to ramp up pay for UK associates by up to 19%, matching the £105,000 newly qualified (NQ) rate announced by Shearman & Sterling in March this year.

The firm has confirmed London lawyers will receive rises of between 16% and 19%, depending on experience.

NQs will see pay rise from £90,000 to £105,000, lawyers with one year’s post-qualification experience (PQE) will see a 16% hike to £110,000, and lawyers with two years’ PQE will see the biggest rise – a 19% jump to £120,000.

Salaries for associates with three to nine and above years’ PQE are discretionary, but the firm said it expected them to be as competitive as the other rates.

In a statement the firm said that student debt, increasing inflation and the high cost of living in London “make competitive remuneration key for the brightest young lawyers in considering their career options”. It added: “In this environment, and following discussions with partners and feedback from our London employee committee, White & Case has significantly increased its legal salary grid for 2017 in London, including an increase for our trainees.”

First-year trainees will now take home £46,000, with second-year trainees making £50,000. This compares with £44,000 and £48,000 respectively before.

The increases mean that White & Case has matched Shearman & Sterling’s NQ rates, which also rose to £105,000.

It is not easy to compare beyond this point as Shearman has a banded system, with mid-level associates (starting at 3.5 years PQE) taking home £138,000, with senior associates (6.5 years PQE and above) get paid £165,000.

Last year, White & Case did not change its associate pay scales in London after hiking its NQ rate up by 20% in 2015.

News of this year’s increase comes after a raft of US firms bumped up associate payscales last summer. The increases were kicked off by Cravath Swaine & Moore, which raised base pay for its first-year lawyers by $20,000 (£14,000) to $180,000 (£124,000), with a host of firms following suit.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was among the UK firms boosting the salaries of its US associates to match the increase.

UK firms are expected to announce their 2017 associate salary rates in the coming weeks.