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Silver circle takes on the magic circle as Macfarlanes boosts junior lawyer pay to £70,000

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Single-office City firm chucks an extra £5,000 at its newly qualified lawyers

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Corporate outfit Macfarlanes is a silver circle firm with magic circle ambitions, upping junior lawyers’ pay packets to £70,000.

The single-office City firm — which revealed a perfect spring retention result of 100% yesterday — has boosted the salaries of its newly qualified lawyers (NQs) by £5,000, putting it firmly amongst the magic circle in the pay league table.

Leapfrogging both Freshfields and Linklaters, which pay their junior lawyers £67,500 and £68,500 respectively, Macfarlanes have put themselves on a par with Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance. Allen & Overy is the only remaining member of the magic circle to pay more; and by some way. NQs at the elite outfit start on £78,500.

Legal Cheek understands that the Macfarlanes pay increase was introduced quietly late last year, in keeping with the extra cash being chucked at young legal talent across the City at the time.

Despite this latest cash boost, it’s the US firms that continue to dominate the top half of the UK pay league table.

According to Legal Cheek’s Most List, the top ten best-paying London firms in the City all hail from across the pond.

US outfits Akin Gump, Davis Polk, Kirkland & Ellis and Weil Gotshal & Manges all pay their NQs the magic £100k. And whilst prestigious New York outfit Latham & Watkins pays its trainees a staggering £101k a year, bragging rights go to the fresh faces at the London office of Sullivan & Cromwell. Last year, their pay packets were upped to an eye-watering £101.5k, the highest anywhere in the City.