Linklaters hikes pay to US firm levels — with new qualifiers on up to £91k

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Firm leapfrogs magic circle rivals … and its lawyers will get a day off on their birthdays


Newly qualified (NQ) lawyers at magic circle giant Linklaters could now pocket as much as £91,000, in a move that will have US outfits in the City looking over their shoulders.

Having completed a firm-wide review into how Linklaters could improve its “reward offering”, it appears the resounding response from the firm’s young legal talent was more cash.

From 1 May a newly qualified lawyer at Linklaters — who is deemed a “high performer” — could walk away with as much as £91,000 including bonuses. Even a “median performer” — the lowest rung of performer at the firm — will still pull in around £81,000.

Until today, an NQ at the magic circle outfit walked away with a very respectable £68,500 a year. With potential NQ earnings now sitting at £91,000, this marks a staggering increase of £22,500.

Leaping to the very top of the magic circle pay leader board, the One Silk Street player now pays its NQs a full £12,500 more than its nearest magic circle rival Allen & Overy, where NQs currently take home £78,500. But spare a thought for the associates at Freshfields. Languishing at the bottom of the magic circle pay table — with a salary of £67,500 — a Linklaters NQ could now earn as much as £23,500 more than a Freshies rookie.

The extra cash hasn’t just been reserved for NQs. Associates at one year post qualification experience (PQE) level could earn as much as £101,000, rising to £119,000 in year two. And lawyers at 3PQE will get as much as £130,000.

Bonus levels won’t just be based on how many hours you spend at your desk, according to Linklaters. In determining how much cash is thrown an associate’s way, management will asses rookies’ “client and business development” as well as “knowledge and learning”.

Alongside the pay boosts, the elite outfit — which offers a market-leading 110 training contracts annually — wants its lawyers to spend more time away from the office.

Annual leave entitlement will increase from 25 to 27 days, and lawyers can take a further day off during the month in which their birthday falls. Improvements to the firm’s “time off in lieu scheme” will also be implemented to ensure associates take time off after particularly long spells in the office, or as the Linklaters puts it, periods of “very high utilisation”.

There will also be an opportunity for the firm’s lawyers to take a four-week sabbatical, two weeks paid and two weeks unpaid, at “particular career stages”. Furthermore, to “improve consistency”, lawyers — but not trainees — will be able to spend one day a week working from home.

Satindar Dogra, head of Linklaters’ London dispute resolution practice said:

The objectives of this review were to improve and differentiate our reward offering, which is key to attracting, motivating and retaining the highest calibre and highest performing talent in the market. We believe that the changes we are implementing do that, providing a strong and positive message to our people while standing out within the market as an extremely competitive and well rounded proposition.

Who pays most, has the most target hours and offers the most training contracts? The Legal Cheek Firms Most List has all the answers.



You should be pointing out, Thomas, that the salaries have not been significantly hiked but the bonuses have become more transparent. That’s the change. It’s not actually a pay hike of over £22k, and nor will a Links lawyer walk away with £23k more than a Freshfields lawyer.



“Even a “median performer” — the lowest rung of performer at the firm”

That literally makes no sense.



You can’t ask Tommy for too much, dear.



Prima facie the statement makes no sense, however if you look at how employers rate their employees’ performances they will make sense.

Quite a few organisations rate their employees in different performance bands, with the bands possibly looking like this:

Band I: Top 10% performers (the 90-100% range)
Band II: Next 15% performers (the 75-90% range)
Band III: Next 45% performers (the 30-75% range)
Band IV: Next 20% performers (the 10-30% range)
Band V: Bottom 10% performers (the 0-10% range)

Hence, the median will fall somewhere in Band III, but since these organisations allocate bonuses according to performance bands, almost everyone (70% of the total number of employees, i.e. Band I-III) will be receiving bonuses equal or more than the median performer.

Coupled with the fact that some organisations try to not place any working employees into the bottom bands (i.e. Band V) – reserving such bands only for employees who are on long-term leaves of absence or really screw up at their jobs – the size of the band in which the median performer is in would often be inflated far larger than originally intended.



To be fair, he was probably concentrating too much on not describing Links as a “top” firm to worry about language or coherence.



Aww was looking to a LC MC graphic



Transparency not a big hike. Nothing like US levels given 91k INCLUDES bonuses.

The small hike in basic is nothing to write home about.



It basically looks like they’ve matched the rest of market on basic salaries and are saying if you perform well (1900+ chargeables, most likely) you can earn 10-15% in bonus and if you work ridiculously hard you can earn up to 30% in bonus. None of this is game-changing. The days at home are good but you will still need to bill a lot of hours from home to get a bonus. A&O’s model is actually better as it offers a higher basic (good for pension contribs and mortgage applications). NY firms are still safe.


Quo Vadis

And let’s not forget, 1900 billable hours works out as 7.5 hours for every single working day in the year (Monday-Friday), and you can add least another hour per day to cover non-billable hours. You could triple the pay (or post me a chocolate-covered Rachel Weisz) and I still wouldn’t do it.


Flaming asshole

Chocolate-covered Rachel Weisz, now that’s a thought right there…

Gimme a sec lads, gotta hop off to the gents.

*unzips pants* *strained grunts come out of cubicle*



You assume money grows on tree



So does anyone actually know the basic NQ salary?



Thruppence ha’penny.





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