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The big 5-0: Two Bristol firms reach unprecedented NQ pay milestone

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Osborne Clarke and Simmons & Simmons lead West Country pay war, but will other outfits follow suit?

Both Simmons & Simmons and Osborne Clarke have increased Bristol newly qualified (NQ) pay to a huge £50,000, the first time a West Country office has reached this salary milestone.

This landmark moment comes thanks to salary nudges of £1,000 (Simmons) and £2,000 (Osborne Clarke), announced alongside comparable pay increases for the firm’s London lot. Both firms have recently upped London wedge by £3,000, to £71,000 and to £68,000 respectively. This means Bristolians are paid about £20,000 less than their counterparts in the capital — perhaps a small price to pay to live in what’s recently been named Britain’s coolest city.

Trainee remuneration has been boosted in both firms too. London-based outfit Simmons — which opened its regional outpost back in 2012 — has recently increased aspiring solicitor pay by £1,000 per year. It now gives its annual trio of Bristol trainees £37,000 and £38,000 for the first and second years respectively. At Osborne Clarke, first year pay is up £2,000 to £36,750 and second year is up £1,250 to £38,000.

Simmons and Osborne Clarke are by no means the only commercial firms with a strong presence in Banksy’s unofficial hometown. Burges Salmon, CMS and RPC are among other examples — so what’s their reaction to this latest pay news?

Burges Salmon, the biggest firm in Bristol, pays its NQ lawyers £48,000 (thanks to a recent £1,000 increase). Speaking to Legal Cheek about this regional pay war, Robert Halton, the firm’s chief people officer, said:

We always aim to pay top of the market, but we’re not in the London market [like Simmons & Simmons and Osborne Clarke both are]. We pay our NQs the market rate in this city. We are quite content with where our salaries are at the moment and we believe they’re reasonable.

Though Halton notes London still, generally, pays its NQs far more than Bristol does, “in Bristol you have more of an opportunity to buy accommodation and you have a much-reduced travel to work time”. But that doesn’t mean the cost of living is cheap, with property values in Bristol having increased by 10% in 2016. The average house price in Bristol is £268,000; in London it’s nearly half a million.

As for CMS, just this summer we revealed the newly-merged outfit had upped its West County wedge to an impressive £49,000, so it doesn’t seem like another pay increase is on the cards here. Indeed, a spokesperson for the firm has said it “constantly reviews” its salary levels to remain competitive and will continue to do this in the future.

And then there’s RPC, which pays its NQs a “merit-based” salary. A spokesperson told us:

While we don’t disclose pay levels by office, we are always keeping an eye on the markets that we operate in.

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35 Comments

Anonymous

£50k at 25 in Bristol – good times!

Anonymous

Gert lush!!

Anonymous

Who cares what a bunch of farmers get paid? Peanuts are peanuts

Anonymous

You arrogant c*nt.

Nobody cares about London “city” lawyers either other than within the quite frankly incestuous legal arm of the square mile.

Anonymous

Don’t you have a field to plough?

Anonymous

I work for a city firm myself and earn enough money to live in a fairly swanky apartment overlooking the Thames that is a 15 minute walk from the office. However, my head is switched on enough to realise that nobody gives a shit about what we do or what we are paid any more than a solicitor based elsewhere in the country.

Anonymous

Doubting your credentials after using ‘swanky’.

Anonymous

You sound as stuck up as the earlier/original poster. What is wrong with the word swanky? I recently had my kitchen area refitted and it looks very kosher.

Anonymous

Beta gimp. I bet you work for DWF.

Anonymous

Swanky? Kosher? Oh dear just stop, you’re embarrassing the rest of us

Kirkland NQ

I earn three times what these people make 😂

Anonymous

These people have more than three times the free time you have

Anonymous

… and have to pay 1/3 of the price that an equivalent house would cost in London

Mike

I’ll fuck you ’till you love me…

Anonymous

…said Fritzl to his daughter.

Neel "Gimplord"

Go back to my chud

Anonymous

How much do RPC pay to you continually plug them? They are awful.

Anonymous

What do they pay in Bristol? RPC are not a bad firm to work for by any means. For some areas such as insurance they do top quality work and the hours are generally very favourable.

Anonymous

Take a smoke break, Alex.

Anonymous

I am not Alex. I work at RPC London and I am proud of my great firm.

Anonymous

Jobsworth loser

Anonymous

Jobsworth yes. Loser no.

Anonymous

Good NQ salary for regions.

Bristol is getting more expensive than the other regional cities so it’s necessary.

Anonymous

Have you been to Leeds recently?

Completely unjustified.

Anonymous

I agree. A trip to Leeds would be completely unjustified.

Anonymous

SOPHISTICATION!? I’ve BEEN to Leeds

Anonymous

I am a trainee in a small Bristol firm and i’m on £17,500. woo.

Anonymous

Unless your hours are very cushty you must be below minimum wage?

Anonymous

RPC Bristol NQ is around £45-48k mark.

Anonymous

Are the posters that are insulting and belittling everyone’s lives and jobs the same person? They just look like insecure pricks.

I usually post anonymously

I made the majority of posts defending the Bristol bunch.

Anonymous

Trained at OC in London. Great firm. There’s no difference in quality of work between London and Bristol (or indeed Reading)

Anonymous

One could make an argument for the similarity in the quality of work in London and Bristol, but reading?

Not so sure about that.

Anonymous

Sun, u know where Reading is rite?

Like saying there’s great law in Burnley

Anonymous

Heh @ the commercial awareness of commentators who earn more but work much longer hours and live in an area where you have to pay more for everything

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