A trainee contemplates qualifying on £107,500.
Linklaters trainees have been told to stop moaning about salaries to business services staff who earn far less.
The Magic Circle firm's London training principal called a meeting with trainees after one of them leaked an internal email to the press which explained that the firm was not gong to "rush into matching" higher NQ salaries at some of its competitors.
Whereas newly qualified solicitors at Linklaters and Allen & Overy are paid £107,500 after their firms decided to hold firm after two raises in 2021, their peers now get £110k at Baker McKenzie, £115k at Slaughter and May, and £125k at Freshfields and Clifford Chance (and £179k at Akin Gump).
In the meeting, the training partner told trainees not to bombard the Trainee Development team with their pay woes, and to speak to a partner if they had concerns about the NQ salary freeze. A source complained that the power imbalance between trainees and partners made it seem "like a move to silence trainees".
However, an insider suggested that the partner's request was driven by sensitivity to the fact that the Trainee Development team comprises non-lawyers who don't have the power to change salaries, and who don't earn anything like £107,500.
The Links partner also addressed the leaks in the meeting, telling trainees that he was "disappointed", and reminding them of the importance of confidentiality. That clearly didn’t work, even though "he avoided sending anything in writing so we can’t forward on the email", according to a source.
The "awkward" meeting ended with trainees declining to ask any questions, although another source said that was standard, and "no-one ever asks anything".
In the meantime, Linklaters' NQ salary is "still under review", said insiders, with ongoing debate at partnership level about whether or not to raise them again.
Linklaters declined to comment.