Biglaw overseas salary

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yung
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Biglaw overseas salary

Postby yung » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:47 am

Hi I am looking at BigLaw firms that have international practice, I am wondering if they also pay their associates 140 - 160k for first year?

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thesealocust
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:33 pm

If it's a foreign office of a U.S. firm, it's likely to pay the exact same salary plus a generous cost of living / relocation allowance.

seriouslyinformative
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby seriouslyinformative » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:35 pm

Some other relevant factors:

(1) What's the tax treatment like?
(2) Are you paid in local currency or USD?

If I was working in the UK, I'd much prefer the local currency!!!

yung
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby yung » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:11 pm

will this be the case even if the location is Asia? (where the cost of living is much less and 160k is prob. worth 200k or more)

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thesealocust
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:12 pm

yung wrote:will this be the case even if the location is Asia? (where the cost of living is much less and 160k is prob. worth 200k or more)


It depends. Your salary will absolutely be the same, but there will be a lot of other variables. Keep in mind that even if money goes further there will still be a lot of extra expenses involving relocation a firm is likely to cover to entice people to make the move. But it's very individualized.

bdubs
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby bdubs » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:36 pm

yung wrote:will this be the case even if the location is Asia? (where the cost of living is much less and 160k is prob. worth 200k or more)


Very few biglaw firms have offices outside of major cities in Asia, or anywhere else for that matter. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Beijing have very high cost of living if you want to live a western lifestyle (which is probably expected as biglaw lawyer).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mo ... _employees

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:41 pm

yung wrote:will this be the case even if the location is Asia? (where the cost of living is much less and 160k is prob. worth 200k or more)


Depends on the firm and the city. Better firms (basically the V10) will generally pay higher across the board - it is not standardized like market salaries in the U.S. Some firms pay very little. If they hire you locally you might get nothing at all. Cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong will get you a higher expat package, other cities less. Also consider that you're taking a large hit to your training if you start over there/go over there very early in your career because US associates overseas tend to work in smaller branch offices that generally specialize in one or two areas of corporate law, so you're somewhat being compensated for basically limiting your future career options as well - even though nobody would ever frame it like that to you.

To answer a separate poster:
1) if you're a US citizen living abroad earning a biglaw salary you don't pay taxes to the U.S. on your first 90k or so of salary, I forget the exact number, but then you pay full taxes to the US after that (any local taxes you pay are deductible and you do have to pay those). Note that you do not "start" out at 90k, your marginal tax rate on the first dollar over the limit is whatever your marginal rate would have been if you had paid taxes on your whole salary (which is ridiculously bogus).
2) I've never heard of a US lawyer working for a US firm and not getting paid in dollars, I have no idea what the British firms do with U.S. lawyers living outside of the U.K./U.S. If you go local you'd get paid in the local currency but there are downsides to that option.

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Vronsky
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Vronsky » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote: Also consider that you're taking a large hit to your training if you start over there/go over there very early in your career because US associates overseas tend to work in smaller branch offices that generally specialize in one or two areas of corporate law, so you're somewhat being compensated for basically limiting your future career options as well - even though nobody would ever frame it like that to you.

Is this necessarily true? From what i've heard, large US firm like DPW or SullCrom have small-medium sized offices in HK and Singapore, and midlevel US associates are recruited to go there to do exclusively transactional work. I've also heard such associates are able to do more substantive work earlier in their careers. Why would an associate who does mainly corporate work like MA or bankruptcy be limiting his or her career options by taking such a position for 2-3 years in HK?

I can speculate that it might hurt one's chances of making partner at a major firm, because that associate might not be able to bring in domestic clients, but other than that, in what ways does it limit future career options?

Consider candidate A, who has worked in a NY big law office for 5 years doing mostly transactional work, vs. candidate B, who has worked in NY big law for 3 years and in HK for another two, also doing transactional work?

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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:27 pm

Vronsky wrote:Is this necessarily true? From what i've heard, large US firm like DPW or SullCrom have small-medium sized offices in HK and Singapore, and midlevel US associates are recruited to go there to do exclusively transactional work. I've also heard such associates are able to do more substantive work earlier in their careers. Why would an associate who does mainly corporate work like MA or bankruptcy be limiting his or her career options by taking such a position for 2-3 years in HK?


I'm the anony you quoted. You're missing the point. It's not that you won't get good experience, it's that you'll get experience in very specialized kinds of transactional work. For instance, if you go to Hong Kong to work for DPW you're probably going to spend the majority of your time on Reg S/144A unregistered securities offerings. You'll get really good at it, but you won't have as fulsome an experience as someone in the NY office who is doing high yield debt/public stock/private offerings/and any other kind of securities offerings someone can think of (and that is just a comparison within the capital markets group - forget about the U.S. associate who is rotating through all their corporate groups). So when you get laid off as a fourth or fifth year, since the offices in Asia make partners once in a blue moon, let me ask you: would you rather be awesome at doing a specific type of transaction that really only the firm that just fired you, or their peer firms, need people to do, or would you rather have a well rounded resume with experience in all types of transactions when looking for a new job? This is why so many people take hits to their class standing when coming back to the U.S. after time abroad, a 6th year who has done nothing but private placements is actually probably only as useful as a 3rd or 4th year for other types of offerings (rough estimate, obviously depends on the individual). You might get lucky and land an in-house job for a bank without having to come home, but if you can't line something like that up you can find yourself in a tough spot.

It's going to be the same for any kind of transaction, be it M&A or project finance. A branch office of a V10 with five or six partners is going to be really specialized (alas, this is where the real expat packages are). Ironically, if you're focusing on the experience you'd be much better off going to a mid-market type player who is just a jack of all trades for any type of transaction the locals want to do but that don't bring in enough $$ for the big player firms to bother with. On the other hand, if you go to the mid-market firms you'll be giving up a majority of your expat package and we're right back where we started.

Before people come and and disagree, I'm aware the V10 dominate capital markets and M&A in Asia in terms of size of the deals, but if you look closely most of the M&A deals flowing through the top firms are just one-off massive transactions with most of the grunt work being done stateside, so even though they might place high on a league tables it's not like some associate in the Asian office was drafting the merger agreement (there are obviously exceptions but this is generally true). Unless you go to a mid-market sized firm you will not be running a variety deals on a regular basis and you will be forced to specialize very early on.

yung
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby yung » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:31 pm

what if the office is located in Taipei, Taiwan(which has a lower cost of living than most other major cities in Asia). The law firm being a V100 law firm which hires both locally trained lawyers and US law school students(SA program), is it likely that 1. the US law students will be paid higher than the locally trained lawyers and 2. close to the salary that the firm pays its associates in the US?

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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:23 pm

yung wrote:what if the office is located in Taipei, Taiwan(which has a lower cost of living than most other major cities in Asia). The law firm being a V100 law firm which hires both locally trained lawyers and US law school students(SA program), is it likely that 1. the US law students will be paid higher than the locally trained lawyers and 2. close to the salary that the firm pays its associates in the US?


US firms in Taipei don't pay 160k or anywhere near that.

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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 22, 2011 6:33 pm

all i know is that they do not offer local (non-us) lawyers that high a salary.

3L Student
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby 3L Student » Wed Nov 23, 2011 4:29 pm

I know a bit about UK and US firms in London. There are probably just over 100 US lawyers in London. They mostly practice securities law (high-yield, IPO, secondary offerings, etc.) and are New York certified. They are normally looking for amazing connections to London (family, work experience, internships) and European languages (Spanish, French, German) or Middle Eastern language. Also, a top school (T14) is almost mandatory (for the international recognition), although amazing grades aren't necessary (median would suffice). These lawyers (normally called Capital Markets lawyers) travel a LOT. Some I met with traveled once a week internationally (they pick you up in a nice state car and fly you business class, the European way!), and most traveled internationally a few times a year. They also work a little less than NY firms (more towards 2,400 hours per year), and they get a guaranteed 5 weeks paid vacation!

They pay New York market. The UK firm I'm familiar with pays in pounds and uses the average exchange rate of the previous year to determine how much in pounds to pay (so right now the exchange rate is about 1.60, so you'd get 100k in pounds). Then after this they add on an additional 20k-40k in pounds, depending on the firm, onto your salary to make up for the taxes.

You must pay UK taxes. You will be exempt for the firs $90k in US taxes. You will also be exempt for any taxes you pay to the UK government. So, if you pay more in UK taxes than you would have to pay in US taxes, you don't owe any US taxes. But you still need to file a return. Right now in the UK you are paying 30% on anything under 30k pounds, 40% on anything between 30-150k pounds, and 50% on anything over 150k pounds. You also have a fat sales tax, and have to pay into health care (like 6k pounds or something on a big law salary).

I calculated that after taxes and everything (with a 25k cost of living adjustment) you will take home about 70k pounds/year. That equals out to about 5.3k per month. A nice two bedroom apartment in London about 30 minutes away from the financial district (The City) costs about 2.5-3.5k per month. if you get a one bedroom you can possible get closer to 2k per month. Normally you are looking at 500-700 pounds per week (the rates are per week) plus utilities, council taxes (about 100-200 per month), etc.

Also, everything there is more expensive. I think I looked it up, and a VW Golf car costs 16,000 POUNDS. Multiply that by 1.6 or 2.00, depending on the exchange rate, and you've get what that is in dollars. A big mac at McDonalds is almost the same in pounds as it is in dollars here in the US. So pounds do not equal more money!!!!

And, if the exchange rate get's worse, i.e., back to 2 dollars per pound like it was in 2008-20010, you get screwed. So instead of getting 100,000 pounds base salary, your second year might drop to like 80,000 pounds salary cause of the crappy exchange rate. Again, this is for the UK firms that I'm familiar with. I think the US firms might be a bit more generous with their cost of living adjustment to make up for this. But it's pretty similar.

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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:40 pm

3L Student wrote:I know a bit about UK and US firms in London. There are probably just over 100 US lawyers in London. They mostly practice securities law (high-yield, IPO, secondary offerings, etc.) and are New York certified. They are normally looking for amazing connections to London (family, work experience, internships) and European languages (Spanish, French, German) or Middle Eastern language. Also, a top school (T14) is almost mandatory (for the international recognition), although amazing grades aren't necessary (median would suffice). These lawyers (normally called Capital Markets lawyers) travel a LOT. Some I met with traveled once a week internationally (they pick you up in a nice state car and fly you business class, the European way!), and most traveled internationally a few times a year. They also work a little less than NY firms (more towards 2,400 hours per year), and they get a guaranteed 5 weeks paid vacation!

They pay New York market. The UK firm I'm familiar with pays in pounds and uses the average exchange rate of the previous year to determine how much in pounds to pay (so right now the exchange rate is about 1.60, so you'd get 100k in pounds). Then after this they add on an additional 20k-40k in pounds, depending on the firm, onto your salary to make up for the taxes.

You must pay UK taxes. You will be exempt for the firs $90k in US taxes. You will also be exempt for any taxes you pay to the UK government. So, if you pay more in UK taxes than you would have to pay in US taxes, you don't owe any US taxes. But you still need to file a return. Right now in the UK you are paying 30% on anything under 30k pounds, 40% on anything between 30-150k pounds, and 50% on anything over 150k pounds. You also have a fat sales tax, and have to pay into health care (like 6k pounds or something on a big law salary).

I calculated that after taxes and everything (with a 25k cost of living adjustment) you will take home about 70k pounds/year. That equals out to about 5.3k per month. A nice two bedroom apartment in London about 30 minutes away from the financial district (The City) costs about 2.5-3.5k per month. if you get a one bedroom you can possible get closer to 2k per month. Normally you are looking at 500-700 pounds per week (the rates are per week) plus utilities, council taxes (about 100-200 per month), etc.

Also, everything there is more expensive. I think I looked it up, and a VW Golf car costs 16,000 POUNDS. Multiply that by 1.6 or 2.00, depending on the exchange rate, and you've get what that is in dollars. A big mac at McDonalds is almost the same in pounds as it is in dollars here in the US. So pounds do not equal more money!!!!

And, if the exchange rate get's worse, i.e., back to 2 dollars per pound like it was in 2008-20010, you get screwed. So instead of getting 100,000 pounds base salary, your second year might drop to like 80,000 pounds salary cause of the crappy exchange rate. Again, this is for the UK firms that I'm familiar with. I think the US firms might be a bit more generous with their cost of living adjustment to make up for this. But it's pretty similar.



Just to push back a bit on some of this, the firm I worked at in London did not give anything extra to make up for taxes, lawyers worked longer hours, for the most part, than those I saw in NYC and they got the same 4 weeks vacation. They did the same with fixing the exchange rate which can be good/bad depending, as you say, where the market exchange rate is. That said, everyone was able to live pretty comfortably in London on the salary.

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:46 pm

Work in Asia for America-trained lawyers isn't exclusively transactional. FCPA work is ramping up in the region, and many American firms in Asia are ramping up their litigation capabilities.

3L Student
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby 3L Student » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:24 am

Just to push back a bit on some of this, the firm I worked at in London did not give anything extra to make up for taxes, lawyers worked longer hours, for the most part, than those I saw in NYC and they got the same 4 weeks vacation. They did the same with fixing the exchange rate which can be good/bad depending, as you say, where the market exchange rate is. That said, everyone was able to live pretty comfortably in London on the salary.


Yeah, you've got a good point. Some of the American firms did have insane hours. And I had no idea that some didn't give expat packages. While I interviewed at those firms, I am only familiar with the pay scales of some of the English Magic Circle firms.

yung
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby yung » Fri Nov 25, 2011 4:40 am

thanks for the replies guys, I'm still wondering if anyone has the info that I'm looking for. I'm not wondering about the salary they pay the local lawyers but instead the salary they will pay the SAs in their program?

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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby 3L Student » Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:29 am

All that info is for American lawyers overseas.

They will pay you the exact same NYC summers get (ilk 3300/wk). And some firms pay for your ticket over AND housing (nice corporate two-bedroom). So you get a little more than a NYC summer would get since you don't pay for housing.

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw overseas salary

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:50 pm

3L Student wrote:All that info is for American lawyers overseas.

They will pay you the exact same NYC summers get (ilk 3300/wk). And some firms pay for your ticket over AND housing (nice corporate two-bedroom). So you get a little more than a NYC summer would get since you don't pay for housing.


Not every firm does this. I've worked in Asia at a biglaw firm and have had the chance to speak with dozens of lawyers in the market who work at various firms. The difference in total compensation varies wildly when you talk about working abroad. For summer associates some firms will pay for housing and the flight. But even then the differences in housing can be drastic. Some V10s might put you up in extremely expensive hotel-like luxury apartments while others might put you in a shoebox. That said, every firm should pay for your flight at the very least.

The differences in benefits only increases when you talk about full-time associates and, fyi, working in a smaller Asian market tends to be much more brutal than working in NYC. That is, there is a much wider gap in skill between the able and the people who are just there to bill some hours and you will be paid accordingly, unlike in NYC where people in a big firm can pretty much hide away for three years and still make the same salary as the top performers. Fwiw, if OP is interested in Taiwan I wouldn't get your hopes up for much of a monetary windfall since I don't think it's a hotbed of capital markets or M&A work so my (very much uninformed) guess is that you're talking about working for a variety of firms that are set up like McDonald's franchises that partner with local firms and thus your pay might have nothing to do with what the head office in NYC is paying their SAs since you will essentially be working for a different firm that just happens to share the same name.




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