Reed Smith Richards Butler has announced its first set of salary increases since its merger went live on 1 January this year.

The combined transatlantic firm has increased its first-year trainee salaries by 16 per cent, from £31,000 up to £36,000, in its London office. This betters last year’s hike from £28,000 to £31,000.

Second-year trainees will now receive £39,000, up from £34,000, while newly-qualifieds will now receive £63,000.

Meanwhile, two years’ PQE associates receive £74,000, while five-year PQEs rake in £95,000.

The increases follow the promotion of eight UK associates to the partnership at the combined firm this year. This hints at improved promotions prospects, as only three associates were promoted internally in the UK in 2006, compared with 24 in the US. Only four UK associates were made up in 2005 and just two in 2004.

However, European managing partner Roger Parker defends the firm’s previously poor UK promotion prospects.

“The firm isn’t run on geographic lines,” he says. “This January the office in the US that had the most associate promotions to partner was Pittsburgh with 11.”