Baker McKenzie will increase junior lawyer pay whereas rivals freeze salaries

Regulation agency Baker McKenzie has elevated pay for newly certified legal professionals to £110,000, increased than the extent supplied by some “magic circle” rivals, as employers take completely different approaches to tackling the financial slowdown.

Baker McKenzie boosted salaries for London-based junior legal professionals by £5,000 on Tuesday, turning into the newest agency to take a extra aggressive stance on attracting expertise.

A number of different corporations have raised pay for junior legal professionals previously two weeks, together with Herbert Smith Freehills which elevated newly certified salaries by 14 per cent to £120,000.

Nevertheless, different legislation corporations have eschewed pay rises due to financial uncertainty.

In June Allen & Overy informed employees it was not elevating pay for its most junior legal professionals to greater than £107,500. In an announcement the agency mentioned the transfer was a “prudent determination primarily based on quite a lot of elements, together with the tougher enterprise atmosphere”. 

Linklaters has emailed employees in current weeks to say it won’t “rush” into matching rivals’ pay rises. The e-mail, first reported by web site Authorized Cheek, mentioned “we don’t consider that the precise plan of action is to hurry into matching salaries at NQ degree with out correctly contemplating the affect of any modifications and the broader financial context”.

Rivals Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Likelihood each raised newly certified lawyer pay to £125,000 in current months.

In the course of the pandemic legislation corporations skilled a extreme expertise scarcity as report dealmaking pushed salaries for essentially the most junior legal professionals to greater than £160,000 on the most worthwhile corporations.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld now pays London-based newly certified legal professionals £179,000, following a change to the change fee it makes use of to transform {dollars} to kilos.

However surging inflation, more durable regulation and the struggle in Ukraine at the moment are weighing on demand for legal professionals.

Kathleen Harris, head of US legislation agency Arnold & Porter’s London workplace, mentioned: “I believe that we’re in an unsure interval as an entire, economically . . . We’re in a very troublesome place to forecast what the longer term seems like — we’ve seen the overall rumblings round what’s going to occur with taxation, everyone knows the price of dwelling has elevated . . . What which means total for salaries in a service-led trade is unclear.

“I don’t really feel like I did final 12 months, the place there was an actual rush for everyone to maintain up with the pay struggle . . . This 12 months feels . . . extra reflective.”

Current wage rises for junior legal professionals have triggered a wider overhaul of pay at corporations reminiscent of Slaughter and Could. In April the agency handed out will increase of as much as 20 per cent to associates to create a wider unfold between pay for essentially the most junior and senior legal professionals.

Ed Poulton, London managing accomplice at Baker McKenzie, which had turnover of $3.1bn within the 12 months to the tip of June 2021, mentioned newly certified lawyer pay had been elevated as a part of a pay evaluation for all associates over the summer season.

“If you happen to improve NQ wage then you definately instantly need to assess the affect throughout the entire wage vary,” he mentioned. “It’s a troublesome stability between paying competitively on the junior finish and making sustainable business selections.”