Davis Polk joins NQ £100k club with London trainee programme

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  • As a 20 year PQE EMEA General Counsel I'm not sure I can see any good reason to instruct a firm that pays its NQs that much.

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  • If Davis Polk want to waste £1ook a year on a wet behind the ears trainee that's their problem. But from where I'm sitting it looks like bad business sense.

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  • Davis Polk will pick the very cream of the crop, the best of Oxbridge/London, with perhaps other experience (Corporate/Banking). Lets say they bill them out at 250-300 per hour approximately as NQs. Give them billable hour targets of 2400 p.a., deduct their pay/expenses/share of office space rent/share of secretary&support, giving you approx total cost of 175k per person if that. The firm are still netting approx 400-450k for the firm (inc not reaching hour targets/write downs etc). If you dont cram yourself with non-bringing in work middle/S.Associates probably quite a profitable model.

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  • "Davis Polk will pick the very cream of the crop, the best of Oxbridge/London". They would like to, but that won't generally be what happens. Experience suggests that at the junior level it isn't really the very best candidates who move to the US firms (or move around generally). Rather, it's the NQs who look good on paper (straight As, Oxbridge etc), but who the leading UK heritage firms don't want for one reason or another. Otherwise why would they move so soon. That's not universally true of course, but in general it is.

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  • Bear in mind that the average trainee costs a MC firm around £200,000 over the course of the training contract in salary, partner time etc etc. Therefore if DPW get two solid years out of an NQ before they move on they have broken even on the cost, not counting billings at all. They let the MC do the training then reap the benefits by thrwing money at wide-eyed NQs who reason that working silly hours at a MC firm for £65k is not as good as working silly hours for £100k

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  • I've never understood these estimates of how much it costs to train a trainee, particularly the perennial reference to "partner time", as if an hour a partner spends mentoring or training a trainee he's completely unable to recapture at the end of the day. (Of course, he is more likely to dump the extra hour or one of his subordinates, but that is a separate matter.) More generally, Davis Polk aren't one of the leading law firms in the US for nothing and if they have calculated that to attract what passes for talent in this market, they have to pay what they are apparently offering, I respect their decision. An associated point, of course, is that none of what we do requires a great deal of expertise or technical wizardry, even in the ostensibly technical areas (e.g. tax, regulatory, IP etc) of which there aren't many. In most cases, the key to a quality work product is hard work, stamina and basic savvy, qualities that will often be as available in junior lawyers as they are in more senior ones.

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  • Maybe profitable for the firm but I don't think many clients are going to be that happy paying for this - particularly to an office that's only just beginning to break in to English law.

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  • I think Bingham only get away with it because there is so much grunt work involved with insolvency. The Slaughter's echo's how easy it is to run up hours for junior lawyers.

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  • This is completely bonkers on every level. What's in it for the clients? And what's in it for the junior lawyers themselves, save a couple of years of living beyond their means? Just when GCs thought private practice was starting to understand. As the work leaves this type of firm and drops down, the mid-tier must be rubbing their hands.

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  • It's not just Bingham, there are many US firms that pay NYC rates in London and that means $160,000 for an NQ or roughly £100,000 at current exchange. Look at Milbank, Simpson Thacher, Debevoise, S&C, Cravath etc If clients are using these firms in the first place they are clearly not that fussed about the cost.

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  • At least they'll be able to buy a house with their ridiculously high salaries.

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  • First worked across DP 15yrs ago as a trainee, always been impressed. Somehow doubt they do anything, including English law and laying foundations of organic English growth, without careful thought. Not sure why clients / GC's should particularly care if a firm chooses to spend profits on this (and, personally, I'm not entirely sure 100K cash makes sense - although HMRC won't complain!). Clients / GC's choose who, and how much, they want to pay for their legal services based on perceived value and market, and direct their instructions accordingly.

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  • Why wouldn't you take 100K if you were offered it? Davis Polk are equal to any UK firm in prestige. Why would the firm pay that much? Ask them - I suspect they thought it through. Why would clients pay that much? Davis Polk will have addressed that as well. Worth remembering that no one blinks at NQ salaries approacing 70K. Adding another 30K isn't going to cause an earthquake. The anger and incredulity these pay offers seemingly provoke say more about the law of envy than anything else. Which is of course what drives City law.

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  • I think if TFL looks at The Lawyers article a few weeks back you'll that the likes of S&C, Cleary and Davis Polk are not only as good as the UK magic circle, but they are already in the global elite and not all of the UK magic circle have or will be. There is a new legal world order: wake up and smell the coffee. Those in the elite work and play hard, are in a different place and command higher salaries for their ability, drive and commitment. Pretty obvious stuff really.

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  • I couldn't agree more. My friend has just joined a white shoe firm and has commented many times on the different space they occupy, strength of brand and depth of relationships with clients.

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  • Does anyone have the link to the article Anonymous 11.52 is referring to?

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  • I am sorry, but clients' are likely to look aghast at paying whatever the chargeout rate is for this. What work will these lawyers be able to do as NQs?

    Not having trained in MC, some one will tell me I am not in a position to understand the ability and drive of their lawyers. I have instructed them, however, and often don't understand where the ability went..

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  • With written English like yours, Eric, you might want to give Davis Polk NQs the benefit of the doubt.

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