six figures pic

Grabbing a solid six figures in the City pay war is now the norm.

Ashurst and Travers Smith are the latest firms to gift their newly qualified solicitors with pay rises. 

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 GumpKirkland & Ellis and Vinson & Elkins when they've only just hung their shiny, new practising certificates above their desks. 

lawyerupLawyerUp lets you receive expressions of interest from top firms and companies when they like you for a role. Grab it on the App Store and Google Play.

Tip Off ROF


RPC associate 21 July 23 09:08

Meanwhile at RPC the NQ rate has been held at £85k for lawyers on the commercial side because apparently that is market. Err, it's not. And everyone else has been given a below inflation increase.  The exodus will begin soon methinks...

Intrigued Weil associate 21 July 23 09:36

Why would you work at a third rate UK firm when you can do big ticket deals in US firms and make some decent bees?

Depressed RE assoc 21 July 23 10:20

Meanwhile at Dentons they're paying NQs less than 95k and bunching PQE groups together. I've heard stories of 3 PQE's being paid the same as 2 PQE's and so on. What a mess

UK finance senior 21 July 23 10:38

@Intrigued Weil associate 

Ashurst and TS ain’t “third rate” and the truth is Weil is mediocre compared with any MC firms and leading US firms like Simpsons, Latham, K&E, Cahill (ex-A&O), PH, etc..

Anonymous 21 July 23 11:36

Travers Smith lost its direction a long time ago. The market moved on and Travers got lost somewhere along the way.

Anonymous 21 July 23 12:11

"The exodus will begin soon methinks..."

They can't get the staff! Impossible to replace! Any day now, any day now!

Their doom is almost upon them. Lawyers willing to work for over eighty grand are an increasingly scarce commodity.

Reality check 22 July 23 10:04

There's been 10+ partner departures in the last year (with PE and Funds taking particularly bad hits), and as a result associates are leaving in greater numbers than people realise (those same teams being the key ones which are affected). To add - there's no growth in revenue, profits are down (and a result bonuses are down on last year), and the kicker is that other people are undergoing stealth layoffs under the guise of "performance reviews". Travers is a good firm with some very bright people (who are, for the most part, also nice people) but at the moment there are some systemic issues. Increasing the NQ salary is long overdue but we have to hope they do something more substantial in the short term to stem the bleeding

Reality check 26 July 23 12:32

@Anon 23.07 …or in some teams (which have historically been very high performing), bonuses are down because multiple partners and associates in that team have left

Related News