News

Freshfields leapfrogs to top of magic circle trainee pay table

By on
66

Will others follow latest pay rise?

Anglo-German giant Freshfields has jumped to the top of the magic circle trainee pay league table after confirming summer rises.

First-year trainee salaries now sit at £45,000, a bump of 5% from £43,000, while second-year pay has risen from £48,000 to £51,000, an uplift of £3,000 or 6%.

Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows that Freshfields’ first-year trainees are now on the same levels of cash as their counterparts at outfits including Baker McKenzie, Shearman & Sterling and Skadden, and £200 better off than those learning the ropes at magic circle rival Clifford Chance (£44,800). As things stand, Allen & Overy and Slaughter and May pay first-year trainees £44,000, while Linklaters offers a salary of £43,000.

Freshfields’ second-year trainees are also sitting pretty thanks to the fresh round of rises. They now earn £500 more than their peers at Clifford Chance (£50,500) and a full £2,000 more than those plying their trade at Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Slaughter and May (£49,000).

Magic circle trainee salary standings:

Firm Trainee pay (Year 1) Trainee pay (Year 2)
Freshfields £45,000 £51,000
Clifford Chance £44,800 £50,500
Allen & Overy £44,000 £49,000
Slaughter and May £44,000 £49,000
Linklaters £43,000 £49,000

The magic circle player’s young associates haven’t been as lucky, however, with NQ salaries remaining at a still very healthy £85,000. The last time the firm upped junior lawyer pay was in 2016, when it boosted it by a staggering 26% or £17,500.

The rookie pay rises come on the back of strong financials. Freshfields reported a 12% jump in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £1.73 million, while revenues hit £1.4 billion — a rise of 5%. Net income at the 28-office-outfit increased by 12% to £683 million.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

66 Comments

Anonymous

Legal Cheek is so dead.

(5)(10)

Anonymous

Legal Cheek is the best thing since rollonfriday.

(2)(0)

US NQ

Lol.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

Sisters! Hear me!

Tax this greed brothers!

This money is much needed for the underfunded public sector!

VOTE CORBYN, FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW!!

A windfall tax on these greedy lawyers!!!

(7)(66)

Canary Wharf

Most of us working in London (Magic Circle or not) are already taxed at 40% + 12% National Insurance.

£900 of my monthly paycheque already goes to the government. All the bonuses are subject to a 40% tax because they are above the higher rate threshold. And in the meanwhile we have to think about repaying our student loans and saving up for a flat that we might never be able to afford.

I’d say I’m already paying a fair share for public services, the vast majority of which I’m not going to personally benefit from. I’ve got used to the fact that I already have to cover someone else’s rent and sustenance through taxes, but you will excuse me for being slightly more reserved about paying for their Benidorm holidays and Harvester brunches when I am the one working 75 hours a week.

(102)(10)

Anonymous

Your hours should be capped as well as salary. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

(6)(19)

Canary Wharf

Oh yeah, in the words of Maggie Thatcher, the honourable gentleman doesn’t care if the poor are poorer as a result. As long as that wealth gap is shrinking.
You’d rather have a country where everyone is paid £8 an hour? Who is going to pay for these public services then?

(44)(1)

Anonymous

(a) I agree that that most high earners are paying enough tax, but your resentment for people worse off than you is sad. You write as if society is a level playing field. It is not. Statistically, you were more than likely born into money or at least into a supportive family that aided and facilitated your learning and development. Many others are not so fortunate and to insinuate they are lazy (how do you know they don’t work 75hr weeks, too?) is insulting. The fact that they are only able to treat themselves to meals at Harvester and holidays in Benidorm says enough, really. Poor you with your great education/student loan and struggles to buy a 3 bed in Canonbury.

(b) Do not rise to Corbyn Sympathiser’s bait. He will be Chief Secretary to the Treasury in a few years’ time.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

Yawn

(1)(0)

Anonymous

“I had £1M pound for every time socialism succeeded, I would have £0. Ironically, if it succeeded I would still have £0”

(57)(0)

Anonymous

“If I has £1M for every time socialism was tried and succeeded, I would have £0.
Ironically, if it succeeded I would still have £0, and no food.”

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed, comrade.

We need socialism, now.

I am literally a Communist.

(0)(9)

ANON

Bring on socialism! Power to the people! Vote corbyn!

(0)(8)

Anonymous

Any news on NQ salary raises? Who gives a rat’s about some two-bit trainees?

(24)(1)

Anonymous

You sound like a right pr*ck. I bet even your own mother thinks you are a c*nt.

(9)(9)

Anonymous 9:47am's mum

Too right I do.

(17)(0)

PEPE

U OK HUN

(6)(2)

Anonymous

Fuck off you insufferable dickhole

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You’re so hardcore.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Freshfields has to go bold and do a game-changer salary review for NQs, upping it to £100k or so. Nothing less will do.

Only that will truly cement their status as being the best MC firm.

(12)(6)

Anonymous

They don’t need to do that and they know it. People are still falling head over heels to work for them and the other MC, and that includes the very best academic performers. The fact that some of them might go to uS firms after nq is mitigated by the limited number of roles on offer at the desireable us firms.

If the MC were intent on challenging us firms on pay they would have done it already.

(17)(1)

Anonymous

the reasoning can be correct. However, the best tend to leave. Not in all cases, but generally.
If this continues and MC does not fight back, in 20 years the music will stop. They will not be any longer attracting to the best talent, and the mediocre ones will be running the show.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

There are some pretty mediocre ones there already. Just look at their corporate finance team…

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Everyone knows FF’s finance team is essentially a corporate support group. It’s like A&O’s corporate team or Linklaters’s dispute resolution practice – distinctly lower tier people since it’s just not the strength of those firms and the good ones go elsewhere.

(7)(0)

loljkm8

I love how LC demonstrate their excellent basic arithmetic:

“a bump of 5% from £43,000”
“an uplift of £3,000 or 6%”
“staggering 26% or £17,500”

Bravo.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

I love how you demonstrate your excellent basic comprehension:

First year: £43,000 up to £45,000 (rounds to 5% increase)
Second year: £48,000 up to £51,000 (rounds to 6% increase)
NQ: £67,500 up to £85,000 (rounds to 26% increase)

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Which MC firm will be the first to hit a six-figure NQ salary? I’m sure it won’t be the cheap bastards over at Slaughter & May, and I can’t wait to see how many bullets their equity partners sweat when they see their competitors raising pay levels.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

My forecast: none. At least within the next 3 years; then, inflation will bring them there – or sort of. They still want to compete on prestige.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Smoke and mirrors. FBD trainee salaries have dropped in real terms since 2007 (first year 38k, second 43k). After inflation, these salaries equate to roughly 51k and 57k.

Similar situation at NQ. The only people who have seen real increases in earnings are partners, whose drawings have far outstripped inflation.

(28)(0)

Anonymous

That’s nuts.

It’s all a bit mind-boggling that we all live in one of the most expensive cities on Earth, but somehow accept to be paid tiny salaries to comparably qualified/skilled lawyers in New York, Paris, Frankfurt or even Moscow.

Anyone who claims that it somehow “all adds up in the end” doesn’t get it. Go for US rates of pay or go home.

(22)(1)

Anonymous

Few US firms definitely need to up.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Mayer Brown and Reed Smith come to mind!

(4)(0)

Anonymous

What about Dorsey? Any idea on pay?

(5)(5)

US Firm Future Trainee

Still trailing behind the US firms

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Which firm?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

SullCrom, Kirkland, Debevoise, Davis Polk

(6)(0)

Anonymous

are they also making a movie about Captain Obvious?

(1)(0)

JD Trainee

Leapfrog is par of the course around here.

(0)(4)

Anonymous

Par FOR the course…..

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Any news on Deckchair?

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Lmao

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Anyone know what’s the pay like at Schmunk & Webb?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Exactly, can we please have a comprehensive NQ salary table!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

What’s the NQ rate at Dewey Botchit?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

LC needs to do more research.

Clifford Chance upped their salaries to 46,500 for 1st yr and 52,500 for 2nd yr… as seen on their grad rec website.

Cutting edge journalism here!

(14)(3)

Anonymous

NO, that is including a ‘binary bonus’ !! Once again, CC trying to mask the actual salary by combining it with a binary bonus…

(7)(3)

Anonymous

the bonus is for hitting billing hours targets…which almost everyone does.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

No, the Binary Bonus is actually a reward for fishing out the meatiest floater in the swimming pool.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

What about Dewey, Cheatem & Howe? Largest UK firm by revenue outside the MC.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

US trainee salaries are now below MC. Having billed 50-80 hour weeks for the last 3 months consistently, having worked at least 1 weekend of every month for that same time period and having billed over 2300 last year, I am disappointed with my US firm and others for not bothering to keep above MC level on the trainee end.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

What are the arrival/departure hours?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

9.30am start. Leave around midnight.

Yesterday I left at 10. Monday about 2am. After midnight counts as working late here. I’m basically never out before 8pm.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Interesting. Still worth the extra money at NQ level compared to MC or not?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Up to the individual. Note all good US firms have upped to 140k now. They just haven’t announced publicly; salary transparency isn’t good for them.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Which? I assume not the likes of slightly more midtier JD, W&C etc

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t know about JD or W&C. However, I assume they’ve upped although probably not quite as much. Separately, W&C is not mid tier, it does very high quality work. It’s not Bakers.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Phillie firms like Dechert and big-sized US firms like Shearman or W&C are keeping it far below the £140k rate. Too big to hike it up to such a level.

Anonymous

JD is now up to £105k, keeping it on par with Shearman and W&C. Morgan Lewis also. The rest will likely stay around £100k tops.

Anonymous

JD’s trainee rates have gone up too. They are the highest in the city now.

Anonymous

You must be at K&E, the only place I can think of with hours expectations consistently that high.

(3)(1)

Anon

A simple google search of “Clifford Chance Training Contract” brings you to their graduate recruitment page, which states the following:

First year trainee: £46,600
Second year trainee: £52,500

I believe these figures are higher. Can I have a job at LegalCheek now pls?

(20)(2)

Anonymous

A simple read of their website shows that the salary is actually £44,800, excluding a “binary bonus.” Once again, CC inflating its real salaries by combining it with a bonus? Absolute madness!!

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Double Caramel Magnums are delightful.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Is it true that CC has raised NQ wages to 91k, including “binary bonus”, and FF froze NQ salaries? If so, that’s pretty disappointing especially in light of the cravath increases

(8)(1)

Anonymous

yep

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Fuck me, this city firm earnings shit is really, really tedious.

Some more articles about crooked solicitors, Henry Hendron, the state of the shitters in Barkingside Mags or Lady Hale, please.

OK, not about Lady Hale, but anything other than MC and US firms’ pay. IT’S UNBEARABLY BORING.

(5)(5)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories