West End associates win pay war

Associates working in London’s West End were the biggest winners in the latest round of pay reviews.

According to an annual survey by recruitment consultants Michael Page, the average salaries of lawyers with four years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) working in West End firms made the biggest leap, from £52,000 to £56,000.

Across the board the top end of associates’ pay has risen only slightly between 2004 and 2005, while minimum salaries have remained static.

The survey assessed pay scales for lawyers with between none and six years’ PQE across a range of firms. It found that, although the minimum salary expected by associates has not changed between this year and the last, average salary expectations have risen by between 1 and 6 per cent.

Meanwhile, salary bands for senior associates in US firms have widened. In 2004, the minimum compensation for a six-year PQE associate in a US firm in London paying mid-Atlantic rates was £102,000 and the maximum £122,500. This year, salaries range from £97,000 to £130,000.

An additional finding was that the payment of bonuses is on the increase: 70 per cent of all the firms responding to the survey said they paid bonuses, including all the US firms; but half of those paid an average bonus of 5 per cent of salary or less, regardless of the maximum bonus available, which can reach 40 per cent of salary.

Pay scales for large/national practices in the regions 2005
Level of experience Average Birmingham / Midlands (£) Average Bristol (£) Average South West / Wales (£) Average Thames Valley / South Coast (£) Average Yorkshire / North East (£) Average Manchester (£) Average Liverpool (£)
Newly qualified 33.0 33.0 30.0 34.0 31.0 33.0 29.0
1 yr’s pqe 34.0 36.0 31.0 36.0 33.0 35.0 32.5
2 yrs’ pqe 36.0 37.5 32.5 42.0 36.0 38.0 35.0
3 yrs’ pqe 38.0 40.5 35.0 45.0 41.0 41.0 38.5
4 yrs’ pqe 42.0 44.0 38.0 51.0 45.0 45.0 41.0
5 yrs’ pqe 46.5 48.0 42.0 56.0 49.0 54.0 45.0
6 yrs’ pqe 50.0 57.0 48.0 N/A 55.0 57.0 50.0
 
Source: Michael Page

Pay scales for top-tier UK firms
Level of experience Average 2004 Average 2005
Newly qualified 49.5 50.0
1 yr’s pqe 52.0 53.0
2 yrs’ pqe 57.5 58.0
3 yrs’ pqe 63.5 65.0
4 yrs’ pqe 68.0 68.0
5 yrs’ pqe 73.0 76.0
6 yrs’ pqe 79.5 80.0
 
Source: Michael Page

Pay scales for West End firms
Level of experience Average 2004 Average 2005
Newly qualified 39.0 40.0
1 yr’s pqe 42.0 44.0
2 yrs’ pqe 46.0 45.0
3 yrs’ pqe 49.0 48.0
4 yrs’ pqe 52.5 56.0
5 yrs’ pqe 57.0 60.0
6 yrs’ pqe 67.0 68.0
 
Source: Michael Page