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Freshfields boosts newly qualified pay by over A QUARTER to £85,000

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Firm goes to the top of the magic circle pay league

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Magic circle outfit Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has leapt up the City law pay table with the announcement that it is upping junior solicitor pay by a staggering 26% to £85,000.

The Anglo-German outfit’s newly qualified (NQ) lawyers are now the top earners among their magic circle peers. Before their pay packets were boosted by £17,500 today, Freshfields NQs were the worst paid within the elite band of City firms, pocketing £67,500, albeit with the possibility of a bonus.

That bonus is believed to be no longer on offer, with the firm stating that the new salary “exceeds the previous salary and bonus combined”.

Trainees at the firm have also received a pay increase — of a slightly more modest nature. Both first and second year trainees have seen salaries increased by £2,000 each. Those in the first year of their training contract will now pocket £43,000, up from £41,000 (a rise of 4.3%), and those a year ahead will take home £48,000, up from £46,000 (an identical rise in percentage terms).

With Freshfields junior lawyers sitting pretty at the top of the remuneration table, Linklaterswhich announced a pay increase earlier this year — is nudged into second place, paying its NQs £81,000. Fellow magic circle outfit Allen & Overy — which hasn’t upped pay for 2016 yet — sits in third place, with NQs walking away with a cool £78,500. With Slaughter and May revealing a muted pay increase of just 2% to £71,500 earlier this week, junior lawyers at Clifford Chance — who are yet to receive a 2016 pay increase — are left languishing at the bottom of the magic circle pay rankings.

Today’s money boost will be welcome news for the hard working lawyers at Freshfields. Last summer there were whispers of discontent around the corridors of global giant’s Fleet Street office as senior lawyers at the firm opted to freeze pay for NQs and chuck trainees an extra £500. All in a year when average equity partner drawings at the firm scraped the £1.5 million mark.

On the back of the cash windfall for Freshies’ junior lawyer talent, Julian Long, London managing partner, proclaimed:

Our ability to attract and retain the most talented individuals is critical to our continued success. Our combination of high quality work, client interaction and global platform mean that our trainees and associates experience an outstanding start to their career. Obviously we should not underestimate the need to be competitive with regards to pay in our market; we believe that making changes across the board for our trainees and associates maintains our strong position as one of the most attractive firms in the market.

With three out of the five magic circle firms announcing pay increases this year an interesting two-tier split is beginning to emerge. There is now a gap of £15,000 between the top and bottom earners at NQ level within the City’s elite band of firms. All eyes will be on Canary Wharf and Clifford Chance over the comings weeks. Will it keep pace? Or will it do a Slaughters and take a more conservative approach to remuneration?

31 Comments

Anonymous

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is having a party! BUYING ALL YOUR VODKA AND CHARLIE!

(50)(1)

Bumblebee

£43,000 up from £41,000 is not a rise of 4.3%.

Am I the only one sad enough to have spotted this? Or am I the only one sad enough to have cared enough to comment?

(11)(0)

Anonymous

Also 2k more on 46k is not an “identical rise in percentage terms” as 2k on 43k – it’s only an identical rise in pure case terms.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

*cash terms

(0)(0)

Anonymous

*2k on 41k (not 43k)

(0)(0)

SC Lawyer

No surprises here.. Freshies dominate M&A. They can afford it

(34)(5)

Anonymous

Amazing news. Anyone know if bonuses have been rolled into this figure? If not, then Freshfields is definitely the English firm to be working for.

(6)(19)

Anonymous

Great question! If only the article answered it….

Oh.

(36)(3)

Anonymous

As far as I’m aware, it does include bonus for NQ’s but the combined figure is still much bigger than the salary + bonus combo of A&O, S&M & Linkies

(15)(3)

Anonymous

Just like it says in the article above!

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Freshfields are already the English firm to work for though? Alongside S&M they are clearly dominant.

(14)(8)

Anonymous

Lol, S&M are fairly average for anything outside of Corporate M&A.

Links and Freshfields would be my two.

(11)(8)

Anonymous

Between Links and FF which would you pick though??
Both top the MC pay league (with FF having a slight edge)

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Both are great firms. I find Links to have much nicer people in general, but FF might have them pipped on quality of work.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Is it useful to generalise about people at firms of this size?

Heard that A&O was the ‘nicest” of the MC firms, and on a vac-scheme, had an absolute **** supervise me for two weeks.

(4)(2)

TCAmerican

Freshies dominates UK & European top notch M&A like no other. They’d be my pick. Also lawyers to The Bank of England since 1743 😉

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Did vac schemes at both, chose links. Despite comments here, generally is seen to have a slight edge in the industry – but wouldn’t get too bogged down in it, they’re essentially the same…

(5)(4)

Anonymous

I guess Freshfields for litigation and Links for finance. Both dominate corporate.
Although if you are going for litigation, herbies may be a better shop.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

While the salary is £85k there is no longer any possibility of a bonus, so the claim that NQ pay has risen by £17,500 (26%) is simply disingenuous.

(10)(13)

Anonymous

What kind of bonus would a NQ be getting anyway?

£85k is very tidy..

(21)(1)

Anonymous

Cheers to FF’s bold move.

Meanwhile people are screaming for NY to 190. The MC may be catching up to US firms but I have a feeling US firms will leap ahead like a rabbit right before the fox pounces.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

No time to spend it

(7)(3)

Anonymous

Good money. Dreary fucking work though.

(12)(6)

Anonymous

What is the average/general actual cost of living for a twenty-something NQ in London nowadays? (answer from someone who actually lives and works there please)

(0)(3)

Anonymous

Whatever you want… You can actually end up spending less than people with more ‘normal’ jobs given the free dinners and taxi home if you’re in late. You can spend £700 or £2000 on rent depending on the kind of place you want to live in. You can spend as much or as little on booze and food and entertainment as you want. This question doesn’t mean anything.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

You can’t really come up with an average for that.

I’m a trainee, and would say the range is from around 2.5k- 4k. Some people flat share, some live alone. Some live in Hackney, some live in Chelsea.

Some like fancy clothes and restaurants, some don’t.

Basically, it varies on the spending habits of the person.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Not really. Basic amount is about 18K/year in a fairly decent house-share.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

That figure is an approximate – could go down to 16K if you lived with more than 2 other people in zones 2-3, but wouldn’t include clothes buying (seriously, who has time and how may clothes does one need?)…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

interesting responses. Makes me question those who tell me a job in the regions is just as well paid relative to living costs.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

If you:

1. take the lower living costs and
2. also factor in the shorter working hours, to average it to pay per hour

Then regional firms are not far behind. You might be better off at one of the high paying regional firms (e.g. Burges Salmon, Osborne Clarke).

(1)(4)

Anonymous

Allen and Overy pay is actually a lie (though the truth was told to the employees) the ‘huge’ pay increases they had was the bonus you used to get for doing ‘well/good’ work for a year being guaranteed. As pretty much everyone already got this and nothing has been out in its place in reality a slaughter and may associate may well be getting the same or even more than their a and o counterpart. I’m very surprised this isn’t in the legal press at all!

(5)(2)

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