Freshfields leapfrogs to top of magic circle trainee pay table

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By Thomas Connelly on

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.

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