Will SAM or Won’t SAM... pay more than 15?Will SAM or Won’t SAM... pay more than 15?

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM) is offering multiple campus recruits base pay below the Rs 15-16 lakh fixed package that it had promised to students and announced to media in a record hike in 2015, that had placed the firm near the top of the fresher salary table.

According to several authoritative sources, SAM has in fact offered many new joiners only Rs 14 lakh of fixed pay in total, without any bonuses.

A source with knowledge of the development told us that 2017 recruits from a top law school had all been verbally promised Rs 15.6 lakh in base pay during Day Zero in April 2016, though as is common amongst top firms, no documentation or agreements were provided to students at the time.

Only after the 2017 graduates joined Shardul Amarchand, were they provided an agreement several weeks ago that stated that they would only be paid Rs 14 lakh in total.

It is understood that several recruits are considering refusing to sign those retainers and are weighing up their options, including continuing discussions with SAM's HR team, alumni and their former placement cells, while also exploring the option of potentially joining rival firms.

Another 2017 graduate joining SAM this year also confirmed that the final offer for joining was for only Rs 14 lakh.

Another graduate told us that last year, among recruits from graduating batches of 2016, only the top few scorers of a batch had been offered Rs 15 lakh whereas everyone else had been offered Rs 14 lakh.

A SAM spokesperson declined to confirm the firm's base pay range, noting that pay bands were generally not communicated to students during interviews as a matter of policy and that the range was very broad, based on multiple factors.

SAM's spokesperson added in an emailed statement: “Our compensation is determined across a band, depending on multiple parameters including academic performance, practice area, market dynamics, etc. and is in line with industry standards. Given the firm’s continued outstanding performance, we provide our young lawyers with best-in-class work experience and learning opportunities, and have a long term plan for enriching their careers at the firm.”

A few other firms may also operate differential salary bands, with Luthra & Luthra, for instance, having historically offered graduates from the older national law schools higher salaries, as well as paying significantly lower starting salaries in some departments of the firm, such as litigation.

The 2015 salary wars

On 8 April 2015, our comparison of pay hikes across the top firms in Mint was topped by Khaitan & Co offering Rs 14.4 lakh per annum to freshers excluding a maximum bonus of Rs 1.8 lakh. Trilegal had also upped its base pay to Rs 13 lakh plus up to Rs 2.2 lakh of bonuses.

At that time we had recorded Amarchand Mangaldas Delhi, as it was during its separation from Amarchand Mumbai, still offering its 2010 salary of Rs 12.5 lakh plus up to Rs 1.5 lakh bonuses. Erstwhile Amarchand Mumbai, had by then already revised its pay to Rs 12 lakh per year plus up to Rs 3 lakh bonus.

But Bar & Bench, citing market sources, then reported around the same time that Shardul Amarchand, as it would soon become, was offering Rs 15 lakh per year to fresh recruits. Our campus sources also confirmed that the revised pay offered by Shardul Amarchand to students was from Rs 14 to 15 lakh.

However, on 13 May 2015, Amarchand Delhi managing partner Shardul Shroff officially confirmed the salary hike to us as being even greater than that. “It’s in the range of Rs 15 - 16 lakh, depending on the quality (of recruit) we get... (It applies) retrospectively also - the base level is between 15 to 16 depending on how the candidate is,” he said.

“This is without any variable,” Shroff had explained about the new system. “It’s 100% of what they would have otherwise got in the old firm - we had a 10% variable structure in the past - we’ve now formulated 100% of what we fixed will be what they get (for freshers).”

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Like +41 Object -2 Foreign waale babu 10 Aug 17, 16:01  interesting  top rated
This is why Indian firms command zero loyalty when associates jump ship. What sort of fraud is this? The entire market was rife with promises of 15 lpa for A-0s starting in 2015. Your own HR confirmed it. And now this. Sneaky behaviour by a firm claiming to be one of the best recruiters. What a shitshow.
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Like +10 Object -14 The Great Katju 11 Aug 17, 12:04  controversial
Sure, but please note that SAM will also allow first year associates to reach office late on Monday, so that they can enjoy and recover from the weekly Game of Thrones episodes. For season 5 of House of Cards, a full week off was given. Young lawyers today are demanding a better work-life balance, and SAM seems to be the only firm doing something about it.
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Like +7 Object -11 Gareeb 10 Aug 17, 16:11  controversial
Bhai, 7-8k ke piche kyu itna dhamaal?
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Like +17 Object -0 Haha 10 Aug 17, 20:15  interesting  top rated
If only SAM thought like this :)
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Like +45 Object -2 216 10 Aug 17, 16:15  interesting  top rated
Oh, the if only the newbies were wiser to trust the SAMCO HR in the 1st place. As most of the Associates working at SAM would tell, the HR at SAM is a sorry excuse for human resource. In most organisations the HR would mediate and help the employees if any such an altercation was brewing. At SAM, they are restricted to organizing "Decorate your workstations", "freshers night" and "Please submit your Insider trading forms".
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Like +10 Object -3 Not surprised 10 Aug 17, 18:00  interesting
Completely not surprised. The HR person is not capable of anything better. Have seen them in action in their previous firm.
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Like +16 Object -0 Bihari 10 Aug 17, 16:29  interesting  top rated
SAM HR Hye Hye!
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Like +3 Object -4 Where 10 Aug 17, 17:04
The rival firms wont pay even 14 lacs I guess - whats the cause of this? Cash-flow?
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Like +5 Object -1 Rival firm 11 Aug 17, 16:59
There are some rival firms who pay what they said they would pay and it's as much or more than 14 lac pa. Trilegal, Khaitan, TTA, S&M.
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Like +1 Object -0 Auntyji 16 Aug 17, 17:06
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Like +28 Object -0 Been there done that 10 Aug 17, 18:15  interesting  top rated
This practice of no documentation is shady and unreliable. Poor kids must have had their hopes up. Firms take advantage of the fact that they have way more bargaining power.
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Like +38 Object -1 Yikes 10 Aug 17, 18:17  interesting  top rated
Mumy Ka paisa khatam ho Gaya??
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Like +2 Object -0 Mass Recruiter 10 Aug 17, 19:39
SAM fits the definition of "mass recruiter" for top law schools. Except this mass recruiter is no more sabka messiah
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Like +20 Object -2 Wow 10 Aug 17, 19:56  interesting  top rated
Truly irresponsible and short sighted behaviour. Here's hoping the kids sitting for recruitment from now on either ask for written confirmations or boycott SAM. Glad the current A0s took this up.
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Like +26 Object -38 Seriously? 10 Aug 17, 20:41  controversial
Honestly amazed that people think fresh graduates even deserve 14L. Law school doesn't teach you anything. Freshers are quite literally terrible when it comes to real work. Been there myself.
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Like +23 Object -2 Darkseid 10 Aug 17, 21:14  interesting  top rated
Then the firms shouldn't recruit them in buckets every year, instead telling them to improve their ability. Making misrepresentations to the extent of outright lying ill befits a firm of SAM's stature.
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Like +2 Object -0 Indian Contract Act 12 Aug 17, 23:35
A misrepresentation amounting to "outright lying" is fraud.
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Like +23 Object -1 Name and Alias 10 Aug 17, 21:45  interesting  top rated
Although I agree with you about 14 Lacs being a tad too much for freshers but I think the issue here is that SAM (and perhaps other law firms) misrepresented the retainer fees. A student may have picked SAM because of the higher pay and there's nothing wrong with that per se. But not paying as promised is bad faith.
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Like +17 Object -0 ex-SAM 10 Aug 17, 22:31  interesting  top rated
this is what SAM HR told someone a few years back (was AMSS back then)-

A0 - "why is the base pay was lower than KCO/Trilegal and how come the bonus is delayed"

HR - "..this is the opportunity cost of working at AMSS and getting that brand name"

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Like +6 Object -2 Shifu HR 10 Aug 17, 23:01
SAM has qualified HR professionals!!! Or are they mediocre general stream graduates who gathered administrative experience in some other firms? I liked the phrase "decorate your workplace" types HR. Its a complete HR failure. Most likely they are voiceless employees fit for menial jobs. short changing graduates salary exposes organisations values and behaviour.
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Like +16 Object -2 Been there, seen that 11 Aug 17, 10:46  interesting  top rated
HR function in law firms is a complete joke to begin with. Whether appropriately qualified or not, they have zero say or ability to guide in anything. The law firm owners (or "managing partners" as they like to call themselves) take decisions based on whatever mood they are in that morning - HR is basically paid to be the shoulder to fire a gun from and face the associate ire. SAM HR is very bad, no doubt (totally fits the description you have given). But even a firm like KCO which has hired a virtual army of 'qualified' HR staff (last count was 15) is as lala as it gets - HR head's role is pretty much restricted to sending 'thought of the day'and can't actually do anything about the total management chaos in the firm.
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Like +3 Object -1 Uncleji 16 Aug 17, 17:08
Bhai KCO toh hired people without verifiying degree :D
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Like +20 Object -0 Unprofessional 11 Aug 17, 01:25  interesting  top rated
This is exactly the kind of stuff you should expect from a firm like SAM. Can't wait for the foreign law firms to bring some professionalism into this market.
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Like +12 Object -14 Malicious 11 Aug 17, 10:11  controversial
You train your Ganz at SAM in a eater malicious way, don't you?
They pay, they pay on time, they have the most generous bonus structure, and they even pay their bonuses.
How many law firms have in the Past two years? CAM? AZB? Why don't you cover that? Why target only SAM?
Who are your investors Kian? The nation wants to know.
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Like +13 Object -1 Scooter- 11 Aug 17, 10:31  interesting  top rated
This is when all the RCCs of all unis must come together and insist that the retainer agreement has to be signed when the offers are given. Wont work if only one college insists since there is a chance of boycott. If all act together, they can corner the firms. High time for that.
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Like +6 Object -0 RCC Member 12 Aug 17, 22:33  interesting
Good point, albeit, speaking as an RCC member of a top level NLU, this is easier said than done. Most RCCs highly distrust each other. To be able to get them to cooperate will be a mammoth, if not impossible task. However, this is definitely impacting the choice of offers accepted on Day Zero by freshers.

Further, this is not restricted to SAM only. CAM is yet to pay out the signing bonus it promised out to fourth years who signed on to them last Day Zero. SAM, CAM should consider it wise to take the Trilegal/Luthra route and start issuing out letters post Day Zero itself.
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Like +1 Object -0 Uncleji 16 Aug 17, 17:09
Chacha naukri nahi milti, retainer kahan se layennge :D
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Like +2 Object -0 What loyalty? 11 Aug 17, 14:27
The HR at SAM is the most [...] and [...] unit ever. [...]
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Like +2 Object -5 Surprised 11 Aug 17, 15:30
The freshers will learn documentation and structuring for the next 4 years. If they are lucky, they may be given chance to handle negotiations related JVs, Financing deals, EPC, PE, M&A, etc. The sum of 14 lakh is good and those associates who are becoming choosy should shed such attitude. Irrespective of SAM's HR policies, the associates should grab the opportunity !
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Like +13 Object -1 Market Place 11 Aug 17, 17:11  interesting  top rated
The issue is not whether 14 lakh is appropriate. A law firm should not misrepresent salaries to students it recruited. Period.

If this is what happened, students now know all they need to about the firm.

Compare this to other law firms who pay equally large amounts with bonuses on time and tell students honestly what they will earn. Next years' recruitment may be impacted unless SAM come up with something better than their comment so far.
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Like +11 Object -2 Lol 11 Aug 17, 18:20  interesting
Actually, they shouldn't be paid at all. They're going to get so much "exposure", they should be jumping to do this work for free! Fools they are. So what if someone else will pay them more for doing the same work. So what if their friends and colleagues are being paid more for receiving the same opportunities. They should shut up and sit down and work hard for the Firm.
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Like +5 Object -0 New Fresher 12 Aug 17, 22:36  interesting
The question here is not whether the kids deserve it or not. The issue is that SAM promised a certain amount (granted, this was never confirmed on paper, but any RCC member can confirm to you that the amount was mutually understood). Perhaps a revision of what good faith means would be wise here.
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Like +2 Object -0 raw silk 11 Aug 17, 18:49
indian firms are still small enough for the owners to know and actually decide salary bands let us not blame hr and at the same time make fun theat they hve no influence. you really believe hr decides pay and not the family at a form that is small enough compared to proper large or even mid size companies?
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Like +4 Object -2 Cyril 12 Aug 17, 19:45
Hey Shardul,

I'm about to rasie the retainer of my A0s to about Rs. 17.5 lakh/year with an extra Rs. 75,000 joining bonus. You gotta keep up bro.

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Like +0 Object -1 no 18 Aug 17, 12:32

For Cyril, this year, A0's are getting 13.5 lakhs + 1.5 bonus. The quoted figure was much higher than 16 lakhs.
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Like +1 Object -1 Rumour? 13 Aug 17, 02:39
Have been hearing that Cyril AM is shortly going to raise its fresher pay to around 17.5lpa. Can anyone confirm this?

Also i can confirm that they are offering a 75k joining bonus as well.
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Like +0 Object -0 ex-SAM 15 Aug 17, 00:50
that's crazy
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Like +3 Object -0 cash flow 15 Aug 17, 17:11
Interesting.... Thought CAM felt it's associates are overpaid! Basically, some kids who don't know jackshit get paid phenomenal salaries while experienced hires don't! If it's vice versa, at least a law firm's cash flows might be better 'cos there are fewer seniors and the seniors might actually bring in work too. It's such a poor investment to pay the kids such fancy salaries! No wonder law firms and lawyers are always dumbstruck when it comes to advising on commercial aspects even in transactions!! Anyway, what the kids also don't realise is, they become unemployable since not many other firms will pay such fancy amounts and very few will have the spine to go for a lower salary elsewhere, if they are unhappy at AM! It's just a tactic for bonded labour sadly!
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Like +1 Object -0 Panaya scam ka paisa 18 Aug 17, 20:02
The whistle-blower accuses the Chair of the board, the Chair of the Audit Committee, the Chair of the Remunerations Committee, the entire current independent members of the board (except Dr. Punita Kumar Sinha, Mr. D. N. Prahlad and Mr. D. Sundaram), the CEO, the Chief of Legal, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM), Latham and Watkins (LW) and the auditors KPMG of being involved in some manner in this deplorable set of events.

Read more at:
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Like +2 Object -0 -- 13 Aug 17, 14:11

Is this fixed package of 14, or does it comprise of a fixed amount and a discretionary bonus.

Is it not that, most firms advertise huge package (including bonus) but don't pay the entire bonus and therefore the effective payment is much less. From that perspective SAM seems to be very transparent and upfront!
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Like +0 Object -0 Lol 14 Aug 17, 02:24
Actually, unlike the erstwhile Amarchand, most firms paid their A0s between 90-120 percent bonus. So the packages aren't misleading at all.

SAM is being more transparent with bonus structures across the board by reducing the discretion. They're still opaque about first year salaries and first years don't know how much they will be paid when they join.
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Like +5 Object -0 paisa 13 Aug 17, 17:14  interesting
So SAM spokesperson says pay bands are generally not communicated to students during interviews as a matter of policy! But its obvious students chose SAM because they were promised higher salary!

Come to think of it, most of these high salaries seem a bit over-exaggerated to me! From what i heard Wadia Ghandy doesn't even pay the salary quoted on LI's salary chart from a few years ago. Time for Kian to update the Law firm salary chart next year!

Btw, i have more than 5yrs experience & I'm not even paid anywhere near 10lakhs by my firm!! And thankfully i don't have to deal with any HR people either!
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Like +0 Object -0 a morose AMSS alumni 14 Aug 17, 16:45
paisa paisa paisa.
tum sab paise ke liye kyon itna marte ho.
SAM ne sabki le li, diya badle me ghanta.
They have realised that they have hired more than they need and so instead of showing the door before the fools have started working, has decided to allow them to leave for the door. Also, one needs to remember that SAM'S, in the days of single AMSS, was not a big recruiter. They must have overestimated the attrition and lived to regret it.These A0s will be paying for the mistake.
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Like +1 Object -0 Haha 15 Aug 17, 13:28
That's an interesting theory. But given that the only ones who will leave will be the ones who actually get offers from elsewhere, won't SAM be losing its best recruits?
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Like +1 Object -1 SAM Deal 16 Aug 17, 16:17
SAM has just closed a big listed deal with AZB on the other side. Kian, you may want to report. Its already all over the media.
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