What Brexit? Herbert Smith Freehills boosts pay for newly qualified solicitors to £90,000

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Trainee salaries also rise at London office of global giant


Newly qualified (NQ) solicitors at Herbert Smith Freehills could walk away with a remuneration package worth as much as £90,000, in what is just one of a number of pay hikes unveiled by the international giant today.

Herbies — which offers around 70 training contracts annually in London — has confirmed that the “total cash compensation” for a City-based NQ will be upped to £90,000. But the impressive new figure does require careful examination.

Unlike in previous years, the new pay level is not a guaranteed salary. Instead, adopting what appears to be a growing City trend, the firm has opted to lump together an NQ’s basic salary along with their possible bonus. So training contract hunters beware, only “high performing associates” will walk away with this impressive £90,000 figure.

This creates obvious complications when trying to calculate just how much extra cold hard cash fresh-faced associates are receiving.

Previously, basic NQ pay packets at Herbies stood at £69,000. However, factoring in performance bonuses, this old figure rose to as much as £82,000. So today’s pay increase isn’t as huge as it may first appear, really equating to a much more modest boost of £8,000, or 10%, when additional cash sweeteners are factored in.

However, if you take the new £90,000 figure as a single sum, it would leave Herbies’ NQs matching their counterparts over at the London office of big-paying US firm White & Case and putting the magic circle in the shade. Check out the Legal Cheek Firms Most List for all the latest pay comparisons.

Putting NQ pay to one side, Herbies’ trainees have also had extra cash chucked their way.

First year trainees will now walk away with £44,000, up from £42,000 — an increase of almost 5%. Meanwhile those a year ahead will now pocket £48,000, up from £46,000 — an increase of just over 4%.

Despite the uncertainty swirling around the City of London post-Brexit, Herbies’ lawyers with one, two and three years post-qualification experience (PQE) are also benefiting from the cash windfall.

One PQE associates will now receive a total cash package of £95,000, while those with two and three years PQE will receive £107,000 and £122,000 respectively.



Fuuuuaaaarrkkk, party at Liverpool Street tonight ladzzzzz!!!

The coke’s on me!


Irwin Mitchell future trainee

What does this mean for the average associate though?

If £90k is top-band, will the median be ~£78k? Wish LC would puff less and provide answers more.



Vast majority of NQs will be on less than this – this would require hitting 2100 hours (so 9 hrs chargeable every day) and getting an outstanding rating (rare as hen’s teeth).

Paid extremely well mind you, don’t get me wrong – but for most will be well under that £90k. Basic pay at American firms is still a good shade higher.



Reading these constant stories must be pretty disheartening if you’re a trainee in a provincial one-partner firm earning £19k a year.


northern trainee

…but they told me I’ll have a higher standard of living and better work-life balance.

Now I’m stuck here in the middle of Sunderland, and I gotta wade through cans of Carling and Black Diamond on my way to work every morning. Life ain’t fair.



That’s a ludicrous comparison to make, the jobs are incredibly different



I wonder how A&O will react to this. If at all… Their NQ salary is looking a little meek now.



Doubt A&O will raise much above Links/CC/Freshies, although a bump up to ~£85k is possible.

Makes you feel sorry for the associates who toil at Slaughters for £71k.

Bloody cheek from their bloated partners to not give a bigger raise when they roll in £2m+ PEP. Expecting imminent departures to US shops.


Meanwhile back in the real world

Can any criminal bod explain to me how the hell this did not end up being a whole life order case?



Still, I’d rather stay at Addleshaw – the prestige far outweighs the salary.


David 'Mahatma' Gandy

Don’t worry – LC exaggerates things greatly. The pay is actually just £82k – Addleshaws are totally a better deal.



Yea they did… Announced it right before Brexit… Then proceeded to hire nearly half the future trainees as they usually do out of vacation schemes… Sounds sustainable and good for future lawyers…. Cough… Cough..


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