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Spice Route publishes 0-7 PQE pay bands from Rs 9.7 lakh to 50.4 lakh (w/ bonus) [UPDATE-1]

Spice Route Legal, which had been founded in 2016 by former K Law partner Praveen Raju, has revealed its remuneration for associates from 0 to 7 years of post-qualification experience (PQE).

Spice Route Legal pay scales (via LinkedIn)
Spice Route Legal pay scales (via LinkedIn)

Three-partner firm Spice Route Legal, which had been founded in 2016 by former K Law partner Praveen Raju, has revealed its remuneration for associates from 0 to 7 years of post-qualification experience (PQE).

The pay levels are (including an assumption that each scale equates to a level of PQE):

Presumed PQE Annual compensation, incl. bonus, in Rs lakh Y-o-y percentage increase
Associate 1 0 9.72 -
Associate 2 1 16.2 67
Associate 3 2 21.06 30
Associate 4 3 25.92 23
Senior Associate 1 4 36 39
Senior Associate 2 5 39.6 10
Senior Associate 3 6 45 14
Senior Associate 4 7 50.4 12

According to the firm’s LinkedIn post of yesterday, which was also inviting job applications from lawyers, the firm said: “We thought we would do our bit for pay transparency, and so - below is our revised salary scales for 2021.”

According to the graphic with the “compensation scales”, the figures are “inclusive of annual bonus”, which we would assume means that this is the maximum possible compensation paid out, if a fee-earner manages to get 100% of the bonus.

We have reached out for comment to Raju about whether the bonus amounts were fixed or variable and what the previous pay scales were but he declined to comment.

Update 10 December 2020: Partner Mathew Chacko told Bar & Bench today that there had been no significant increase in its pay:

It isn’t a major revision in the pay structure, it is an annual revision. It was a year in which we expected things to go south, but we did quite well, and we decided to share the rewards with lawyers at the firm.

We are a small firm with around 30-odd lawyers and we’ve only been operational for about four years. Whatever rate we have been going at in the past few years, we have gone at during this year, so there has been no real difference.

According to its website, Spice Route Legal now has 3 partners and a total of 14 fee-earners (including partners). It has offices in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting look inside fee-earner pay structures and the first time an Indian law firm has revealed those.

At many international law firms, the base salary for at least the first few years is known and disclosed internally, with the bonus element acting to differentiate performance.

At most Indian law firms, however, the base pay bands for even associates after the first year of PQE begin diverging widely, and more so with increasing levels of seniority.

We have recently reported that Nishith Desai had raised its fresher pay to Rs 16.2 lakh plus a fixed bonus of Rs 1.2 lakh generally paid out 18 months after joining for first year’s:

[In 2015], Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM) had announced a revolutionary base pay without any bonus component of Rs 15 to Rs 16 lakh per year (though in some cases the firm strangely ended up paying freshers less than promised, as we had reported in 2017).

SAM had followed Khaitan & Co hiking its base pay to Rs 14.4 lakh (excluding up to Rs 1.8 lakh of bonus).

Trilegal had pushed up to Rs 13 lakh plus up to Rs 2.2 lakh of bonuses, while Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai (as it was back in April 2015, was on a base of Rs 12 lakh and a maximum bonus of Rs 3 lakh).

Hat-tip to a reader for pointing us to this.

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