The different stratospheres of salary.
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 Chance, Freshfields 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."
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.