London NQs board the private carriage, as regional lawyers look on.

Trowers & Hamlins has raised the pay for its London NQs to £72,500, while its 5PQEs can earn up to £90,000. Linklaters has hiked NQ pay to £100,000.

The Trowers salary scale for its UK lawyers was leaked to RollOnFriday this week.



Trowers' NQ salary in London is up from £68,000 to £72,500, while its NQs in Manchester, Exeter and Birmingham are being given a rise from £44,000 to £47,000.

The table shows that 5PQE associates will be on £90,000, while managing associates will be on a minimum of £93,000. Meanwhile, qualified legal executives in London will be paid in excess of £40k and senior paralegals will be on at least £34k.

Elsewhere, Linklaters is the latest Magic Circle firm to offer six figures for its NQs, raising its NQ salary from £92,500 to £100,000 (not including a discretionary bonus), effective from September. 

The firm joins Clifford Chance and Freshfields in offering a base pay of £100k, plus a discretionary bonus. Fellow Magic Circle firms Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy are paying their NQs £100k when a bonus is included. 

DLA Piper has also upped salaries for its London NQs from £76,000 to £88,000, with those in the regions receiving an increase from £44,000 to £48,000. The rise in London is in line with NQ pay at firms such as BCLP (£88,000) and Ashurst (£90,000). 

In the salary rung below that, CMS has upped its NQ pay from £75,000 to £82,000. On a par with that, Eversheds Sutherland has raised its London NQ salary from £75,500 to £82,000, with its NQs in the regions getting a rise from £45,000 to £50,000. 

Meanwhile, in a similar bracket to Trowers, RPC has upped NQ pay in London from £68k to £70k and in Bristol from £48k to £49k.

The latest rises for NQs in the City illustrate the widening gulf between firms competing for junior talent. There appears to be clear tiers, with US firms offering in excess of £140k, Magic Circle firms offering £100k, the 'Silver Circle' firms offering £90k, and City firms below that (the Bronze circle?) offering salary ranging from around £70k to £80k.

Reviewing the salary scale in the leaked Trowers' table above, also makes for an interesting comparison when considering that an NQ at a major US firm on over £140k (or even a Magic Circle NQ on £100k) is earning more than a  5PQE London lawyer at Trowers, and potentially more than a 6PQE London lawyer.

Such is the gap, that based on the table, it's highly likely that the only Trowers' lawyers earning more than NQs at US firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Debevoise & Plimpton, Vinson & Elkins et al, are the partners. 

The price that most NQs at US firms pay is the possibility of beastings so magnificent, that UK firm partners can only dream of inflicting them. 

If your firm is upping salary, get in touch.

Tip Off ROF


Annoyed Associate 09 July 21 09:51

I am 4PQE at a regional office in a firm of a very similar size to Trowers.

Due to the ongoing pay freeze (which has continued far longer than can reasonably be justified), I am now paid less than a Trowers NQ in the same city.

Management at other firms should take note.  If there isn't a significant improvement in the upcoming salary reviews I will definitely be voting with my feet.

Lawyer 09 July 21 10:05

@Annoyed Associate - the thing is you won't move though will you and they know that. Why on earth would a 5 PQE work for 90k when you can get nearly three times more at a US firm? 

Anon 09 July 21 10:06

Love the photo in this article - I trained at a regional firm and remember a MC trained partner telling a senior associate off for wearing brown brogues because they looked 'too regional'

Annoyed Associate 09 July 21 10:15


I have no desire to work at a US firm and work 2000+ billable hours a year.  I value my life and my family more than my salary.   However I would still like to be paid at market rate for what I do. 

The point of my previous comment is that my current firm is longer keeping up with its competitors on salary.  If that doesn't change then rest assured, I will indeed move.

Anon 09 July 21 10:19

“There appears to be clear tiers” this is the first problem with UK firms they too are obsessed with rigid tradition and led by hierarchy. Why do all magic circle firms always have to offer the same and all silver circles always 5-10k less?

They should be focused on paying what is most competitive and practical to them individually. Travers Smith or Macs or Mischon or Hogan for instance with their profitability levels and structure should arguably find no difficulty paying its trainees 100k. But we all know they won’t, because traditionally they always pay just slightly less than the MC. WHY. Wouldnt it also be nice to see a few MCs break away are offer 110-130k and not be comfortable thinking they can offer significantly less than US. They all need to wake up.

It’s this strange hierarchy that you don’t see in US pay structure. “low tier” firms such as a Gibson or a Paul Hastings or Akin Gump still pay as much as the elite, white shoe US firms. Simply because they wish to remain competitive, not dictated by “well this is what we’ve always done”.  

Anon 09 July 21 10:27

What's the word on the street regarding the NQ pay at other 'silver circle'-esque firms such as NRF, BM, Hogan Lovells etc?

Anonymous 09 July 21 10:29

Regional lawyer here. Senior associate.

£63k basic with 8k signing on bonus. 

Just giving some balance.

Relaxed Partner 09 July 21 10:38

Ah, the plaintive cries of the Annoyed Associate, who arrives each day to diligently toil in the law mines while singing their traditional song "I'm definitely leaving tomorrow".

My favourite bit is the chorus:

"I'm leaving tomorrow,

You'll see!

You'll see!

This whole place just won't work without me!

Yes definitely tomorrow,

You'll see!

You'll see!

We've been singing this since 3PQE."


Lawyer 09 July 21 11:24

How many billable hours does a Trowers’ associate do though - 1,750-1,900? Is a few hundred more hours for triple the salary really that bad? People like to slate the US firms and the people working there as document robots with no life and no friends but is simply not true. The US firm I work at is probably the most sociable and has the most normal down to earth colleagues I’ve ever encountered in law whilst earning shed loads of cash. Just cannot see why you’d work at a mid size firm like Trowers, DLA, NRF for less than 100k - do you not value your skill set - your partners clearly dont…

Another associate 09 July 21 11:37

I can't speak for Trowers as I'm not there.  But my target at a comparable firm (regional office) is 1400 hours.  There is obviously a huge trade off in pay but it's one I'm happy with.  I know that I won't look back at these years and wish I had worked more.

Anonymous 09 July 21 11:41

Yes, but T&H is a lovely place to work. Says former employee with rose tinted glasses who is about to be ridiculed.

Strange but lovely.



Anon 09 July 21 11:51

It’s not “a few hundred” it’s about another 500-750 which means weekends and holidays and pretty much every evening.  That doesn’t fully give the reality of what it’s like as people just see “2300 hours” and “£140k” and think it’s just a bit more hard work for a lot more money.  Actually if this is your life (and it is because you sell yourself entirely to these firms) then it wears you down, your life becomes about the firm, you get little sleep, you eat badly, you don’t see family or friends and cancel plans, and are irritable and stressed when you do have down time, you lose your hair and you age dramatically.  All for after tax maybe £1500 to £2000 more a month which is not enough to get you things other than material one off purchases.  Sure, not everyone has this experience, but many I know did.   You burn out and the money isn’t enough.  

Bruce 09 July 21 11:57

Can someone please find out Osborne Clarke's flexible working arrangements post covid and possible salary increases?

US associate 09 July 21 12:01

Ive been at a US firm for about 5 years and bill about 2,100 hours each year. I definitely agree that its a lifestyle choice as you work when you have to and there is no such thing as a start and end time but having said that, I’ve never had any issues managing the work with my personal life and I have a bf, friends, hobbies and take regular holidays (pre covid obviously). Sure, i have had to cancel the odd plan now and then but for me, having been able to afford to buy a decent house, build up a hefty pension pot and have a decent amount of savings and investments all before my mid thirties thats been well worth it. It just depends on your personality.

Annoyed Associate 09 July 21 12:22

@ Lawyer

I wasn't slating US firms.  You asked me why I would rather work at a mid-size firm than a US firm, and I told you.  It's of course down to individual choice, and how much value you place on different things.  Each to their own.

Jeb Bush 09 July 21 12:25

Law firms fired scores of female secretaries and have shuttled that money to overpriced 24 year old NQ's instead. The wealth gap widens. 

USfirm4eva 09 July 21 16:51

The trope that you get a "beasting" at a US firm compared with magic circle/silver circle is just there to keep those lawyers happy with their lower pay. I've worked at all three and it's all the same - you just get paid more at the US firm. Hours target for bonus at current US firm is 1950. Some people are doing 2300 hours but not many!

Anon 09 July 21 18:32

@US associate - from your post it’s clear you don’t have children or a husband / wife.  Those things make a massive difference to your ability to do 70-80 hours a week every week.   Also 2,100 hours is not that high either at these top US firms, it’s more akin to magic circle and top city firms.  At L&W or K&E, there are many who do 2,300-2500 or more.  

SE1 09 July 21 19:02

It is disgraceful that Chartered Legal Executives are classed as paralegals. Do they not know that it is a hard earned professional qualification!

Nameless 09 July 21 22:52

@ Anon 09 July 21 18:32

Not true at all, most associates at the major US firms are in the range of 1900 to 2100, only a handful will be hitting 2300+. The profession is full of people exaggerating their numbers but having worked at MC and US firms I agree with the poster above, the beasting myth at US firms gets peddled to convince you to stay where you are.

It’s hard work wherever you are, you might as well get paid for it. Put it this way, it’s not like you would go from L&W to FBD for better hours, you’re just accepting a huge pay cut for the same hours.

Anon 11 July 21 06:46

If you’re in a busy transactional dept and want to make partner you’ll do way more than 2000 hours at a us firm.  Way more.  

Anon 11 July 21 09:35

What’s up with Simmons & Simmons? Billable hours target is the same as the Magic Circle/some US firms but pay is well below market. Hard to justify no?

Transactional Associate 11 July 21 12:12

Clearly a lot of comments on here from people who don’t actually work at US firms.

In this market where deal flow is nuts, if you are not doing at least 2500 in a transactional team at K&E/LW then you’re in trouble.

Obviously different if you work in IP or something, but they are a small fraction of the people that work at US firms in London, particularly those built around private equity.

Harvey Spector 11 July 21 16:26

Mike Ross and I do over 2500 chargeable hours each year. If you can’t cut it you will soon be found out. It’s not for everyone but is worth it financially. 

lolz 12 July 21 17:20

Backing US associate here (senior biglaw US associate here in a transactional department). At our shop most people are firmly around the 1,900 - 2,000 level with some outliers towards 2,400 - 2,500 but they tend to change (and only really about a handful of people who frequently bill 2,300 per year). If you want to manage it and keep it lower you really can; and it doesn't mean you can't make partner (but those that do do 2,300+ have a better chance indeed). But we're not talking about partner here - we're talking about doing a decent job with manageable hours for a lot of money, and that is certainly possible at almost all US firms working 1,900 hours a year and getting paid £150-200k as a junior/mid lawyer. 

Foxy 14 July 21 14:35

Trowers client base doesn’t support high salaries. Housing associations, public sector and the ME clients won’t pay higher hourly rates.Trowers also has a very small corporate and banking practice relative to its size. Trowers cost base with its sprawling office network also drains profits. All said and done  Trowers associates are paid pretty well given the demands put on them. It’s also all relative. Fixed share partners are in the 150k region and JE partners start at 160k ish. 

Moved to PI 16 July 21 01:26

Or you could be a plaintiffs' PI lawyer in the US and make $100k in a fee from a single car accident case with a decent injury. 

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