Summer will be particularly pleasant, since Ashurst's rise is backdated to May. Time for an upgrade.

Ashurst is hiking its NQ pay to £90,000, up from £85,500.

"We carefully monitor and review our pay structures each year to attract and retain talent and remain competitive," said an Ashurst spokeswoman. "We are pleased to confirm our basic pay for newly qualified lawyers in London has increased to £90,000, excluding bonus, with effect 1 May 2021."

Clifford Chance is also hiking the base salary for its NQs to £100,000, plus an additional discretionary bonus. Previously, CC's total pay for its NQs of £100k included a binary bonus. The Magic Circle firm declined to comment on the increase.

While a number of City firms froze pay or cut it when the pandemic hit last year; the coffers are now opening up - Linklaters also recently announced a rise in pay for its NQs to £92,500, plus a discretionary performance bonus. 

During the halcyon days of summer 2019, City firms were succumbing to the NQ gold rush with the Magic Circle hiking NQ pay to £100k. It was widely seen at the time as a move to turn junior eyes back from US firms, which have sprayed NQs with mega salaries. However, the US firms have continued their raises of eye-watering sums, with Shearman & Sterling recently announcing a pandemic-proof pay NQ pay rise from £120,000 to £135,000, while White & Case increased the base pay for its NQs from £105,000 to £130,000. 

Inevitably, there is a trade-off for the huge wedge, with lawyers at US firms effectively signing up to regular marathon beastings, and a compromise on work/life balance. But to those inclined, it does provide the opportunity to pay off their parents' mortgage. 

What is your firm doing about salary? Spill the beans and let RollOnFriday know. 

Tip Off ROF


ShootyOriginal 18 June 21 08:45

For what, exactly?

Well done for...

Wait... sorry... deva vu. I made that mistake last week, didn't I?

Carry on. Please disregard this post. ;)

US Associate 18 June 21 09:16

Why no mention of the new US rates?

Cravath scale went up to $205k for NQs last week, so £147k at current spot.

The usual suspects either have or will match that in London, including K&E.

Anonymous 18 June 21 09:17

NQ in London for those firms gets paid around the same figure as a partner at Keoghs.

Hitchins 18 June 21 09:22

Good. All of the silver circle will likely follow suit. Go on Travers or Macs be brave and offer 100k.

The less firms can be differentiated by pay the more applicants will begin to start caring about the quality of practice areas and training quality again.

Anon 18 June 21 09:28

To regional lawyer - it depends where you are and what area of law you’re in and what level and what size of firm.  It sounds about right for a SA at a national insurance firm, but on the low side for com lit and certainly for corporate in the south.  If you’re in the north it’s probably not bad.  Can you give any more details? 

Not that I want one, but… 18 June 21 09:52

What’s the thing in the picture? Some sort of cast off from the space station?

Dearie 18 June 21 10:29

This reminds me of the days immediately before the 2008 crash - PQE salaries and house prices were rocketing everywhere. I hope I'm wrong.

Mc mid 18 June 21 12:26

30k rise at 5pqe at CC and a similar sized bonus.  NQ raise mask big raises elsewhere 

US associate 18 June 21 13:01

I love RoF but it seems to hate on US firms so much. The last 1+ week has been full of US firm salary hikes (with a little salary war going on) and it’s not mentioned at all :o US associates in London offices who don’t read the US gossip sites may have no idea (until/unless they get an email from their firm).

Anonymous 18 June 21 15:05

@9:28.  Dual qualified in England and Scotland.  Based in SW and also doing work both sides of border. As you guessed, insurance type work.

Millie Tant 18 June 21 15:51

Wait until the associates at BCLP get their heads around the latest offering on pay form the firm; it look less of a pay hike and more like a take a hike for some. Looks like a thinly disguised way to avoid paying increases.


Well Q 18 June 21 16:44

Just wanted to say that as a senior associate at an offshore firm I get paid £150K a year. Can we have some genuine comparisons and stop pussyfooting around the issue? Tell me you PQE and salary. 

Anonymous 19 June 21 12:50


Are you talking about the original Silver Circle, or as it was redefined in 2017?

Anyway, if you’re talking about Travers or Macs, then yes. If you’re talking about BCLP or Mishcon, maybe not. 

Anon 20 June 21 12:19

2pqe at a regional south west / high street firm dealing with civil and comm lit (as pretty much the only litigation offering in the entire firm!) getting £35k and have been told that this was above market rate. Any views on this? Billings around £9k p/m average. 

Long in the Tooth 21 June 21 16:02

These NQ increases are very double edged and problematic for associate careers, as they are not matched by increases across all levels.  Senior associates in UK firms make around £130,000-140,000 before bonuses so between zero years PQE and 10 PQE there is only £30K-40K of salary progression, which does not reflect the vastly different levels of experience between those two levels.  Effectively an associate signs up for the same salary for 10 years in the hope of making partner (which at the junior end may not be a big jump either).

Anonymous 21 June 21 18:42

@12:19 - start making a good relationship with rival firms and be affable to deal with and kind. Don't be surprised if they invite you to coffee and see if you're interested in joining them.

Misleading vs truth 21 June 21 22:55

Lol not true - am NQ at CC and we get flat 100k and no bonus 

0.5 PQE on 100k with 8k bonus (discretion sry but based on posting time sheets only)

well done CC!

@Long in the Tooth 21 June 21 23:29

Actually, this is wrong.  The CC increase at NQ was MUCH smaller than the increase at more senior levels of qualification.  I'm 5PQE and now earn almost 50k more than an NQ before bonus.  

Anonymous 22 June 21 13:27

OK guys, I'm seriously underpaid. Am at silver circle firm (regional office) pushing 10pqe and getting 71k for insurance lit work. How do I get to where you guys are with my background? Genuine question. 

LegalRecruiterPerson 23 June 21 12:16

@Anon 13.27

To jump your salary, you need to move to London, or move to a firm that will allow you to work for its London office remotely - this is becoming much more common, even among the US firms.

If you're at a Silver Circle firm already, you are clearly a decent lawyer, so maybe dip a toe into the hiring market - you might be surprised. There's a feeding frenzy right now at Associate level across the city, which should (in theory) create more gaps at the traditionally more rarified 10PQE/"I'm senior but not yet a partner" level.

Hope this helps. 

A nonny mouse 23 June 21 14:53

Herbies will surely have to match but continues to not increase above PQE level. Entirely possible to basically be earning pennies more than an NQ at 2, 3 PQE and not much more above that. 

Pay above NQ very flat as the market and legal media don't write about it. 


Well Q 24 June 21 14:21

Glad we are getting some honest answers here. It’s so difficult to compare when you have no idea what other people are being paid. The person at the US firm with the huge salary and COVID bonus, can you tell us if you get beasted in return for that?

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