The Americans are coming

By RedLaw | 29 Oct, 2015

Centuries ago, the phrase “The British are coming” was heard across the world. In London 2015, it’s more like “the Americans are coming”. The Magic Circle, the largest and most prestigious UK law firms, have, for years, held an unrivalled position as the premier legal advisers, on these shores, to some of the world’s biggest companies and banks.

It’s a privileged position that has been challenged more than ever in 2015 as our neighbours from across the pond invest heavily in their London offices, snapping up some of London’s best talent, building-out their departments and competing for the work normally held exclusively by the Magic Circle.

For me there are two main reasons why our American cousins have been doing so well in attracting associates to their firms: money; and ambition. US firms are willing to pay more for talent, particularly at the junior end. This summer prestigious white shoe American law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, set its NQ starting salary at £101,500, making it the highest NQ salary of any firm in London (that’s over £30,000 more than the rest of the Magic Circle with the exception of Allen & Overy which increased it’s NQ salaries this year, in part, to help compete with their US rivals). However, to put the American’s success down to just big salaries would be wrong. London is a truly global City rivalling New York and Hong Kong so it’s no surprise that American law firms want to invest in London, particularly now that there are slow but steady signs of a recovery. No longer are US firms seen as the new kids on the block. Established and growing London offices, leading remuneration and truly global platform all give associates comfort that the US firm is a valid choice.

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