Clifford Chance is the first UK-headquartered firm to raise its associate base salaries in America.
A spokeswoman for the magic circle firm said there were no plans to match the salary raises for its associates in the UK.
An internal memo to US-based associates from US managing partner Craid Medwick and New York-based litigation partner Margaret Blair Soyster said that “consistent with our desire to provide a competitve compensation package for associates, we have reviewed our base salaries in light of recent changes announced in the marketplace.”
The firm has moved to match a rate set earlier in the week by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett of $160,000 (£81,000) for its first-year associates (equivalent to newly qualifieds). This rate has now been matched by at least 18 other US firms.
This means that Clifford Chance’s first-year American associates will take home over £25,000 more than their London counterparts in salary alone. Clifford Chance newly qualifieds in London earn a base salary of £55,000.
Clifford Chance will pay a maximum base salary of $280,000 (£142,000) for its most senior associates -- on the low end of the scale. Simpson Thacher will now pay a top end of $290,000 (£147,000), while Sullivan & Cromwell has been the most generous so far and is offering a maximum associate pay of $310,000 (£157,000).
Clifford Chance has two main offices in the US, in New York and Washington DC, in addition to a nameplate operation in Silicon Valley.