Allen & Overy has made the leap to reveal that its NQs will be paid a minimum of £100k comprised of salary and sign-on bonus. The announcement leaves Linklaters as the only Magic Circle firm not to offer NQs a six-figure salary.

In May, Freshfields was the first Magic Circle firm to increase NQ pay to £100,000. This month, Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May also revealed they would pay their NQs £100,000, although this is dependent on a discretionary bonus at both firms.

The move by the Magic Circle firms is understood to be an attempt to bolster the firms' appeal to junior lawyers who might otherwise be tempted by the fabulous wages available at US firms. Akin Gump, Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins and Debevoise & Plimpton all offer £143,000 to first-year lawyers, while Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sidley Austin both offer in excess of £100,000. 


With net pay of circa £5,400 a month, NQs at Allen & Overy can grab a Damien Hirst viagra sculpture every four weeks

The push into six figures by A&O piles the pressure on Linklaters, who pay salaries to NQs around the £83,000 mark.

At the start of the year, an Allen & Overy solicitor told RollOnFriday in the Firm of the Year 2019 survey that their salaries "look alright on paper, until you're in at 4am wondering why you didn't (A) go to a US firm and at least partly justify this hell or (B) give it all up to join a commune". Although a colleague contended that pay was "as good as can reasonably be expected given that life is fractionally more civilised than in the US firms". The pay rise might be a step in the right direction for some A&O associates.

A spokeswoman for Allen & Overy said "we have always been committed to rewarding our people fairly and competitively."

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 28 June 19 09:03

Except its 92k plus sign on bonus which means the nq figure is artificially inflated as 1pqe will be earning basically the same

Anonymous 28 June 19 10:31

This is stupid. There are only so many trainee places available at US firms - inevitably there will be highly capable people who simply don't get to go to US firms because of the lack of spaces. Their second choice is likely to be an MC firm, so the MCs will still get the same quality of trainee - they are just shelling out more money needlessly.

Anon-y-mous 28 June 19 10:57

@Anonymous at 09:03 - They get away with this because 1PQE salaries don't generate nearly as many column inches as NQ salaries...

Ex A&O 28 June 19 13:11

By 2-3 PQE me and a lot of my colleagues cottoned on to the reality that we would be slogging our guts out for the next 6 years to eventually be paid on par with a US firm NQ and then most likely we wouldn't make partner. Needless to say most of us are outta there and have negotiated equivalent pay at places that let us see daylight once in a while. And then comes the cynical realisation that that is exactly how A&O/MC firms want the system to work! 

Anonymous 28 June 19 13:33

The MC are absolute dry lunch factories.  Go to a decent smaller firm where you actually get an input, career and some daylight. 

Aged practitioner 29 June 19 06:18

How on earth can a newly qualified solicitor aged 25 be worth £ 143k or even £ 100k per annum, especially when SQE educated? It's a nonsense. 

Anon (MC) 01 July 19 10:42

This is a bad move.

When I was an NQ at a MC firm many years ago I was borderline incompetent and generally did a pretty poor job. However, I was cheap and very keen to learn. This meant I survived and ultimately thrived becoming (if I say so myself) not a bad lawyer and good long term investment on the part of my firm.

Unlikely this would have happened had I been on £100k. I suspect the short term cost pressures would have resulted in a swift and unhappy departure.


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