A recruiter recently told me it was “a great time to be a junior lawyer.”
He received daily requests from in-house attorneys seeking a return to private practice to claim their share of the lucrative pie.
Then this week Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson became the latest to announce it was raising its London salary for newly qualified barristers to £160,000, matching Milbank and Goodwin Procter. With a salary like this, young lawyers are easily among the highest paid young professionals, their salaries exceeding those of their classmates who landed jobs in finance.
So it’s a good time to be a junior lawyer, isn’t it?
Well yes. But look beyond the twinkling curtain of high pay and hybrid working benefits, and the picture isn’t quite so clear. What you’re seeing is growing animosity between associates and partners, seething CGs, widespread discomfort with the workload, and increasingly visible limits on the control an associate can have over direction. of her career.
In one of our best stories read this week, Varsha Patel reported on how rookie lawyers are no longer ready to sit back and accept the wrath of senior members of the industry. The associates described the partners – who are responsible for setting the high subordinate wages – as “hypocritical” and driven by “attempts to deflect blame from deeper industry issues”.
One associate said, “With the overall increase in company profits, I don’t see why they shouldn’t share it with NQs. If the partner’s children were the NQs, I don’t think they would complain.
Another adds: “It’s a bit rich coming from the partners. If you were to ask most lawyers whether they would rather earn an extra £10,000 or have their evenings and weekends off, most would choose the latter.
Resentful partners and GCs are one thing. But juniors also face systemic barriers.
For an illuminating room, Hannah Walker spoke to litigants who say the talent pool they’re hiring from is shrinking because young lawyers can’t join particular firms — think litigation specialists like Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. This is because they advised banks early in their careers. And the banks, being the friendly type, refuse to accept waivers because they “don’t want to help companies that may sue them” in the future.
But it’s not just the banks. Natasha Harrison of Pallas Partners described how private equity firms have also restricted the law firms they hire.
In other words, although junior lawyers are being paid more than ever, they just don’t have everything they want.
High salaries come at a price, beyond the literal, and no one, it seems, feels in control. Can the industry work together to finally get the situation under control?
Other great stories
The popular narrative is that the Big Four entered the legal industry with impunity and continue to deliberately threaten the establishment. But this, again, could be a misunderstanding.
As jack womack uncovered, the audit giants face deep internal issues of their own. Former and current partners in the firm’s legal arms have described things like infighting, lawyers struggling for attention, and various other political wrangles and disputes.
Meanwhile, in other reports, rose walker spoke with Ashurst CEO Paul Jenkins, who spoke about how the pandemic has changed the way he works and the impact it has had on his business, as he prepares for his third term in office this post.
patrick smith wrote about how White & Case’s London office generated $445 million in revenue in 2021, roughly one-sixth of the firm’s overall revenue, while Tom McParland had the story of Prince Andrew settling the Manhattan sex abuse lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre for an undisclosed sum.