US private equity law firm Bankes & Weschler has become the first firm in the City to offer newly qualified solicitors (NQs) salaries of more than £100,000.
The Chicago-based firm is attempting to boost its UK profile with the market-leading package of £103,500 for NQs - well clear of nearest rival Latham & Watkins, which pays £96,970.
Firm chairman and name partner Robin D. Bankes said: “If you want to hire the best, you have to pay the best.”
Bankes shrugged off concerns about a global economic slump in the wake of the credit crunch, arguing that the high-paying strategy will pay dividends in the longer term.
He added: “Recruitment is a long-term game and I believe it’s crucial that we don’t put partner profit ahead of future prosperity.”
Bankes hopes the move will help it lure associate talent away from rival City and US firms to grow its 11-lawyer London base.
The firm hopes to recruit heavily at the junior end of the market over the next 12 months.
After Bankes & Weschler and Latham & Watkins, US rival Debevoise & Plimpton is the third highest-paying law firm for NQs in London, paying £94,000, followed by Manhattan’s Cleary Gotlieb Steen & Hamilton, which pays £92,000.
Magic Circle firms, by contrast, pay NQs circa £65,000.