Grabbing a solid six figures in the City pay war is now the norm.
Ashurst will increase NQ base salary from £105,000 to £115,000, effective from November, putting its pay on a par with Slaughter and May and Macfarlanes (£115k), and just below Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells (£120k). The Magic Circle firms (aside from Slaughters) pay their NQs a base salary of £125k.
"We carefully monitor and review our pay structures to attract and retain talent and remain competitive," an Ashurst spokesperson told RollOnFriday. "We are pleased to confirm our basic pay for newly qualified lawyers in London will be at least £115,000, with effect from 1 November 2023."
Travers Smith has upped its NQ salary from £105k to £110k, effective from the start of this month. "Newly-qualified lawyers will now receive a base salary of £110,000 that can rise to between £110,000 and £130,000 after bonuses," said a Travers spokeswoman.
Other recent rises in the City include Baker McKenzie upping NQ salary from £110,000 to £118,000, effective from 1 July. And Taylor Wessing and DLA Piper have both increased NQ base salary in London from £95k to £100k, placing them on six figures.
Firms tend to be fairly transparent about NQ pay, which is often the same across a firm, but a lot less open about higher pay bands, where salaries can fluctuate between and within practices.
That visibility has led many lawyers to suspect that firms hike NQ pay at the expense of higher bands for the optics, leading to hidden pay bunching up the ranks. It was a common gripe raised by associates in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At survey, some of whom felt they only earned a smidge more than their NQs.
RollOnFriday asked all of the above firms (which announced NQ pay rises this month) if they would also provide their associate salaries at other pay bands; but they all declined to share those figures.
When considering the City pay war for NQ talent - BigLaw US firms still offer the most. The Cravath scale and salaries pegged to the dollar has culminated in solicitors pulling down more than £170k at firms including Akin Gump, Kirkland & Ellis and Vinson & Elkins when they've only just hung their shiny, new practising certificates above their desks.