Slaughter and May has joined Freshfields and Clifford Chance and raised its NQ pay to £100,000.

Last week Clifford Chance made the leap and matched Freshfields, which in May became the first Magic Circle firm to pay newly qualified solicitors six figures.

Like Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May’s £100k includes a discretionary bonus, which the firm pays in December.

In an email to London trainees and associates which a source provided to RollOnFriday, the firm conceded that it needed to keep up with the Joneses. “In accordance with our policy of keeping our associate remuneration competitive in the market”, the firm told them, “we have decided to increase our newly qualified associates' remuneration (salary and bonus) to a minimum of £100,000”.

It continued that it was “too early to say exactly” what the size of the December bonus would be, but guaranteed that it “will take the full NQ remuneration package to £100,000”.


A year's net pay bags a disturbing visual tribute to the US firms which prompted all of this.

“It's strange”, said a source, “because we have always had a fixed salary and a discretionary bonus which was never predicted (although we always knew we would have something).” But now the firm is “committing to a minimum bonus effectively”.

Allen & Overy and Linklaters are still holding out, and paying their NQs salaries of between £80,000 and £83,000. Expect this to change almost immediately and probably by the time you finish this sentence.

Tip Off ROF


Ffs 21 June 19 08:02

No increase for anyone that qualified before September 2016 though - what a great message to send to those cohorts.

Anonymous 21 June 19 09:59

How is it "guaranteed" if the bonus is discretionary?  They only seem to be "guaranteeing" that they will hit £100K this year.

Anonymous 21 June 19 10:31

The complete obsession with NQ rates really masks the fact that you’re a lawyer for a lot longer than a year and that salaries have been bunching, especially at SM, for quite a while now. Though I guess the message at 4Q or higher is ‘stay and try to be a partner’ or ‘please leave’.

Anonymous 21 June 19 13:51

@ 10:31 - Yes, it’s weird to increase pay at that level in a bid to attract/retain talent only to lose them at the 3+ level because pay becomes relatively poor (not just to other firms, to the juniors!).



Big Swinging Richard 21 June 19 17:23

Stop whining, you salaried drones. If you qualified before September 2016, you should be equity partner now or leave the game and join an insurance company in the compliance department pending early retirement and a set of steak knives for bonus time.

Anon 22 June 19 00:58

but does this mean that everyone gets a pay rise above NQ?   Presumably the 1-4yr pqe will want to be paid accordingly?  

Anon 22 June 19 08:02

Firms like SM and others have a model which is to recruit quite a large number of trainees, try to keep most on qualification (hence the healthy £), work them very hard for four or five years which is very profitable, with the expectation that most wont be kept on or made partner, then get rid of nearly all of them or move them into in house roles to make way for the next batch.  It’s ok for most of these people because with a MC firm on the CV they can go into mid level or SC firms and have another go, or move in house.  

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