Herbert Smith Freehills takes on the magic circle as pay rise trend continues

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By Thomas Connelly on

Global City of London firm boosts junior level pay across the board with trainees now taking home £42,000


Herbert Smith Freehills is the latest firm to throw extra money at top young legal talent as the City pay war continues.

The Primrose Street-based firm in the City — which currently offers around 70 annual training contracts — today announced rises in first and second-year trainee salaries. First-year trainees are boosted to £42,000 from £39,500, while those a year ahead will receive a 4.5% rise meaning they will now be taking home £46,000.

Herbies’ newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will also see a substantial difference to pay packets. The firm revealed it will raise NQ pay by more than 6% to £69,000, giving them bragging rights over their magic circle counterparts at Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The firm — which is the product of the 2012 merger between London “silver circle” practice Herbert Smith and Australian “big six” outfit Freehills — will also reward those higher up the junior division.

Two-year PQE associates will see the largest pay boost, receiving a 10% rise from £79,000 to £87,000. Three-year PQE salaries are up by nearly 8.4% to £96,500, while four-year PQE salaries break the six-figure mark, taking home £102,000 up from £95,000.

Herbies’ managing partner for the UK and US, Ian Cox, said in a statement:

These salary increases reflect the exceptionally strong performance of the London office over the past year, but this is also about investing in the firm’s future.

The development follows an announcement last month that trainees at Nabarro would not receive any extra money in their pay packets, despite revenues rocketing by 21%.

It was also slim pickings for trainees at Anglo-German law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The global firm announced last month that it was upping trainee salaries by only 1%, despite equity partners taking home on average £1.5 million.