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Slaughter and May has introduced a firmwide discretionary bonus of 15 per cent for all associates and trainees as part of its pay review.
Salaries have been raised between 12 and 15 per cent for all associates of all levels. The review was started long before A&O's recent associate pay-hikes but that news was considered as part of the review.
Slaughters' senior partner Tim Clark said: "Since our May 2006 review, the market had moved and we dropped back a bit and we didn't want to be in that position."
Newly-qualified associates salaries move up to £60,000 from November 1. First year trainee salaries go up from £31,000 to £34,000. Second-year trainees will now receive £38,000, a hike from last year's £34,500.
The bonus is not performance-related. Slaughters has no chargeable hours targets. It is discretionary because it is not obligatory but if the firm awards a bonus, all associates and trainees will receive the full 15 per cent.
"There are still very good reasons for not paying bonuses but the world has changed and people accept that bonuses have become part of remuneration structures," said Clark.
Executive partner Melvyn Hughes added: "I am convinced that the structure at other firms is to do with profitability so you can buy some time and put off making people in to partner."
Slaughters believes that its partnership track is shorter than other firms so there is no need to reward associates in the same way as other firms. If the associates are good enough, they will soon be receiving the huge rewards of partnership.
"We don't have some of the more obvious drivers to create new roles such as of counsel or senior associate. Everyone is an associate before they become a partner or they leave. We are not seeking to keep people here who are not on the partnership track," concluded Clark.