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Freshfields boosts top earning partner pay by 68% to £3.2 million – as trainees make do with £500 extra

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And NQs got no pay rise at all

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The top earning lawyer at Anglo-German outfit Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer received an astonishing pay boost of 68% to £3.2 million, in the same year that trainees were chucked just £500 extra, it has emerged.

The latest set of accounts released by the magic circle giant — which shows the firm’s top earner pulling in over a million quid more than last year’s £1.9 million equivalent figure — will make for difficult reading for those lower down the firm’s food chain.

Last summer, as firms across the City splashed the cash on their junior legal talent, Freshfields — which offers 80 training contracts annually — was somewhat more reserved.

Pay packets for first-year trainees were boosted by just 1% — or £500 — while newly qualified lawyers (NQ) at the elite City firm received absolutely nothing extra.

The freshly-released accounts show that salary expenditure by Freshfields actually dropped by just over 1% from £466 million to £461 million, despite staff headcount actually rising by 3%.

Even though they are taking home what is still a very respectable £67,500 a year, Freshfields associates now languish at the bottom the magic circle NQ pay table. No doubt down the pub this evening they will be questioning why the firm’s top earner is as much as 47 times better off than they are.

With the unnamed partner’s bumper pay day including a slice of the firm’s £511.8 million net profit, Freshfields also revealed that the senior lawyer received payments in relation to his or her retirement. Well, it certainly beats a carriage clock.

Late last year, fellow magic circle firm Linklaters revealed a similar pay package for its top earner. The elite firm disclosed via its latest set of accounts that its top earning partner walked away with a pay cheque worth in excess of £3.2 million.