Clifford Chance ups trainee pay packets by 3.5%

By on

Despite generous pay boost for NQs, there is no guarantee they will receive it


Elite Canary Wharf-based outfit Clifford Chance has finally revealed its 2016 pay increases, upping trainee pay packets by a modest 3.5%.

Young lawyers in the first-year of their training contract will now walk away with £43,500, up from £42,000, while those a year ahead will take home £49,000, up from £47,300.

However, the corporate giant, who offer around 100 training contracts annually, is remaining silent on whether base salaries for newly qualified (NQ) lawyers, which currently stand at £70,000, are to be upped.

Instead, the firm revealed that fixed bonuses, which the “vast majority” of its junior lawyer talent would receive, will be upped, taking NQ pay packets to a very competitive £85,000. In short, the bonus boost by Clifford Chance may appear generous but there is no guarantee that their lawyers will actually receive it.

Those with one year post-qualification experience (PQE) will now walk away with up to £95,000 including bonus, up from £75,500 without bonus. “Good” performing two PQEs will pocket an average of £100,000, and “excellent” ones — who presumably never leave the office — will earn an average of £119,000.

London managing partner David Bickerton said:

In the ‘early years’ (NQ and PQE1) we expect our lawyers to work hard to develop the skills and good habits of an exceptional lawyer so their contribution is assessed on the basis of whether or not they are acquiring these skills and habits. At these levels, lawyers receive a salary and a binary bonus. If the lawyer is developing the skills and habits they will require they will receive the binary bonus, so the vast majority of junior lawyers will receive it.

Pub bragging rights are now firmly with the trainees of Clifford Chance.

The modest pay increase sees those in their first year leap above their Anglo-German counterparts at Freshfields by a full £500, taking them to the top of the magic circle pay league table. The same goes for those in their second year who are now pocketing £49,000 — a full £1000 more than nearest rivals Freshfields — and are consequently the best paid trainees at their level within the magic circle.

Last month Freshfields revealed a staggering NQ salary increase of 26% to £85,000, and earlier this year fellow magic circle outfit Linklaters upped pay for its junior lawyer talent to £81,000. Yet to announce a 2016 pay increase, Allen & Overy NQs currently pocket £78,500. Meanwhile, Slaughter and May revealed a muted pay increase of just 2% to £71,500 last month.


Skadden Associate

85k with bonus? My bonus is 85k – My secretaries salary is 85k with bonus


Boh Dear

Shhh… you’ll scare off the unicorns.



Sounds like a decent shop, them Skaddens. Any good in conveyancing wud u know?

Gazza from across the street is planning to sell his house so he can move down to Thailand since he loves the local poon so much, so he needs sum advice u know.



Loooooool troll


Skadden Secretary

I spit in his coffee.



Interesting that the US firms’ competitive advantage in London (salary) is being steadily eroded away. Of course, they are unable to raise them unilaterally as they are just lapdogs of the New York mothership (or Chicago/LA/etc. in limited cases) where USD160k has been the standard “NQ” salary for an age. Unless and until that increases, top US NQ salaries will stay around 100k and the MC is closing that gap rapidly.



There are whispers of a US market move to $190k though…



And that may happen, in which case the MC will have to move again accordingly.



How many hours a week (real time, not billable) does the average CC trainee work?



between 50 and 60 I would guess.



How many of those hours are spent picking out the latest dirty deposit from their supervising partner from the pool?


Charlotte Proudman.

Erm, more like 70 – 80 hours per week. Very talented, hard-working lawyers.

Good looking too.



I doubt that would be a fair average.


Charlie Proudman

What of – the hours or the looks?



From relatively recent personal experience – I would say they are likely to be spending in the region of 60-65 hours a week in the office (typical average day being 9.30 to 10ish) but that will vary greatly between departments and from time to time. No-one is likely to be getting out with less than a 50 hours week on a regular basis, and bad weeks will be 75 hours plus. 100 hour plus not unheard of, but relatively rare.


Comments are closed.