US FIRM Squire Sanders & Dempsey is hiking up its salaries for its London lawyers, with increases across the board of more than £20,000.
The firm, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is increasing its rates for newly-qualified lawyers from £54,500 to £75,000.
Squire Sanders has nearly 30 lawyers in London, seven of whom are partners. Second year lawyers see their salaries increase from £61,000 to £83,000. At the top end, eight year-qualifieds go from £101,000 to £145,000.
The rises put the firm's London lawyers on a closer par to its lawyers in the US, but do not take them to the highest salaries available in London. The increases are backdated to 1 January.
Director of recruitment consultants TMPQD Greg Abrahams says: "This doesn't put them right at the top of the tree, which would be nearer £90,000 [for newly-qualifieds]. They're probably going up to the equivalent of US rates - they're a Cleveland firm, not a New York firm, so their US rates are lower, but these increases are obviously pretty punchy."
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCoy are among firms that pay around £90,000 to newly-qualifieds.
At the moment, newly-qualified lawyers in the magic circle are paid around £45,000, so before the rises Squire Sanders paid premium UK rates. This hike puts them at the top end of so-called mid-Atlantic rates, in line with larger US firms in London such as White & Case and Weil Gotshal & Manges.
Abrahams says: "Squire is not a firm that is the first choice for many junior lawyers because they don't have the prestige of the New York firms. But they've done well in terms of partner hires.
"All the messages I'm getting are that the salary hikes this year are not going to be hikes - they're going to be fairly steady reviews. But some US firms that weren't until now paying US rates have decided to go to US rates, or very close to them."
The firm declined to comment on its reasons for the move.