The different stratospheres of salary.

Hogan Lovells has boosted its NQ baseline salary to £100k (plus bonus), while Macfarlanes has increased its NQ pay package to over £100k. 

A Hogan Lovells spokeswoman told RollOnFriday: "the baseline salary for newly-qualified lawyers has increased from £90,000 to £100,000 in London. They are also eligible for performance related bonuses of up to 35%, giving a potential total annualised compensation of up to £135,000."

Macfarlanes has raised NQ base salary from £85,000 to £90,000. On top of this, Macfarlanes lawyers receive an annual bonus (around 10% of salary), an individual bonus and a special Covid bonus. A spokewoman for the firm said its "expectation" is that its NQs will earn "in excess of £100k this financial year taking into account all elements of their package."

NQ pay at Macfarlanes will be on a par with Magic Circle firms Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy, which are also paying their NQs £100k when a bonus is included. And the salary for NQs at Hogan Lovells should be in the same ballpark as Clifford ChanceFreshfields and Linklaters - as those firms are offering a base pay of £100k, plus a discretionary bonus.

Herbert Smith Freehills has also increased the total compensation for its NQs from £105k to £107k – which includes both the salary and a performance bonus. The firm would not reveal the base salary for NQs.

Some other City firms are offering a similar NQ base salary to Macfarlanes, including DLA Piper, (£88,000) BCLP (£88,000) and Ashurst (£90,000). It is understood that Ashurst's total pay package for its NQs can reach in excess of £100k when a discretionary bonus is included. And a six figure salary could also be a possibility for NQs at DLA Piper, as a spokeswoman confirmed: "NQs are eligible for our bonus scheme which pays out at up to 40% of base salary. It is not guaranteed, but we generally anticipate over 50% of all eligible lawyers will receive a bonus."

As the City pay war continues, tiers have emerged. In the salary rung below, firms such as CMS and Eversheds Sutherland will pay their London NQs a base salary of £82,000. 

Meanwhile, Trowers & Hamlins is paying its London NQs £72,500, and RPC is paying £70k. Regional NQs across the land will pocket considerably less pay. For example, the salary of Trowers NQs in Manchester, Exeter and Birmingham is £47,000.

In a different stratosphere, US firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Debevoise & Plimpton, Vinson & Elkins et al, are spraying their NQs with base salaries in excess of £140,000, and that's not including the eye-watering bonuses.

Of course, the Faustian pact is that US associates will have to accept marathon sessions working on a deal, while sustained on a diet of black coffee and late-night Deliveroo.

However, beasted associates at non-US firms, billing over 2,200 hours a year, may question whether they'd be better off at least getting paid the astronomical salaries of their peers at white shoe firms. 

NQs and other associates, get in touch to spill the beans on your salary rises.

Tip Off ROF


DLA Anon 16 July 21 11:12

Absolute nonsense re DLA bonus. There's a 1600 minimum billable requirement for the lowest bonus, but it's not pro rated to account for the fact that NQ hours only count from September when we qualified to April when the FY ends.

Good luck to the NQs in logging an annualised 2,300 billable hours for 8 months for a middling 5-10% bonus.

Going for the door pronto 16 July 21 12:56

Squire Patton Boggs had a record breaking year – “20% increase in revenue/billable/whatever pap” – as proudly trumpeted by the gormless UK managing partner in his recent email, yet they’ve completely stiffed 95% of the London office on mid-year salary raises. “raises will affect only select few associates in select teams” he says.

Everything this firm does is budget, the purse strings are tighter than a nun’s butthole, pay is stagnant despite the assets being sweated like never before, and myopic leadership still asks why is it that associates keep heading for the door in droves, usually for US-level pay packets. As have I, just tendered the resignation and feel awesome.

Shockingly run firm, totally clueless and greedy at the same time.

SecularJurist 17 July 21 01:21

'Compensation'. Is that the Americanisation which English law firms are saying now? Please say  'remuneration; or 'salary'. 'Compensation' (or damages) is what you are awarded if you win your PI case or if a tribunal makes an UFD ruling in your favour.

Recent escapee 19 July 21 13:35

SPB is a sinking ship in London, with meaningless mandates and zero visibility across the market. Gearing got comical in the Corporate group, with 25 partners for 20 associates and a handful of trainees. Shambolic management and ridiculous lack of judgement on part of firm leadership. Jump while you can folks! 

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