News

Linklaters becomes final magic circle firm to up NQ pay package to £100,000

By on
113

City pay war continues

Linklaters has become the fifth and final of the magic circle lot to up its total newly qualified (NQ) solicitor pay package to £100,000.

Junior associates qualifying into the firm’s City of London headquarters will now earn a salary of £100,000, a spokesperson for the firm has confirmed. This figure includes a discretionary performance bonus.

Links has matched money moves made by fellow magic circle players Allen & Overy (A&O), Slaughter and May and Clifford Chance in confirming its headline NQ pay figure is a combination of base salary and bonus. Future associates at Freshfields are currently winning the City pay war sparked by soaring US law firm London office NQ salaries. They have the potential to out-earn their magic circle rivals with discretionary bonuses on top of their six-figure salaries.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

In a statement, a spokesperson said:

“Linklaters has increased the total cash payable to NQ lawyers to £100k, comprising a base salary plus a discretionary performance bonus, with top NQ performers receiving above this.”

The firm, which offers around 100 training contracts each year, more than any other City outfit, previously remunerated NQs a salary of £83,000. This figure rose 2% from £81,000 in October last year. At the time, trainee solicitor salaries also increased by 7%. First year trainees earn £47,000, rising to £52,500 in their second year.

Drawing comparisons between the elite fivesome in terms of NQ pay has become increasingly more difficult due to some firms choosing to include performance-related bonuses in their public pay figures. Freshies is paying rookies £100k basic, with bonuses on top of that, while Slaughters has disclosed a base rate of £92,000. Links, A&O and CC, however, do not report their base rate figures.

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

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

113 Comments

Anonymous

Base is 95k

(36)(0)

Anonymous

still reasonably phat

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Not for anyone above 1PQE… no change in salary…

(22)(1)

Anonymous

Jeremy Corbyn will tax this greed!

A supertax is coming! Taxes on city windfalls at 75%!!!

FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW

(2)(34)

Rupert

🍗

Anonymous

Gotta love the fact Magic Grandpa and his goons are so jealous of success.

Tip: Corbyn is worth an estimated 5million himself.

For the many? Hahahahahahahaha.

Bully Boy

Poopert DeBeere!!!!!!

Anonymous

These people put in a LOT of work and money just to qualify nevermind the long, stressful hours once they actually qualify. They deserve that money, why should they be taxed to the point they earn the same as someone who works part time in a simple job with no qualifications? See the injustice. Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemetic asshole who isn’t exactly poor himself, just wanted to let you know, before you make him some sort of role model.

Anonymous

Get out commie.

Anonymous

100k for 1PQE

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Phat wedge boiiiiii

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Macs too

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Macs basic salary is 85k

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Not great

(5)(7)

Anonymous

Fuck off that’s a top package for a firm like Macs

(9)(1)

Anonymous

The pay difference between firms like Macs/Travers and the magic circle has expanded massively in the last few years due to pressure on the MC from US firms. Whereas previously these silver circle-type firms sold themselves as competitors in terms of quality of work and pay scale, the gap has now widened so much that its difficult to see how they can continue the charade (80/85k at Macs/TS vs 95/100k at MC = up to 20% differential).

I think Travers latest poor retention round is probably symptomatic of this..more of these to come is my guess.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

Travers are shyte, no longer SC

(2)(1)

Anonymous

CMS > Links’ sweatshop. Much better work-life balance and TECH-SAVVY! Gone are the days you do grunt work. AI does it for you at CMS!!!

(8)(19)

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

Avoid. No word of a pay rise, open plan and churn and burn institutional work.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

You fool. Uni of Westminster made me a CMS partner. Trust me, it’s so good here.

(4)(2)

CMS 4PQE

Yeah right, is that why I work like a slave and get paid less than some retarded Hooray Henry NQ at Slaughters

(3)(0)

Anonymous

First-year law students don’t get paid for tort reading, foolish boy.

Anonymous

Sounds sweaty and grim

(0)(0)

Not Linklaters' PR team

Linklaters is very technology focused with its products and services. It would not be a boastful statement to say that they are at the forefront of this field.

CMS’ use of ctrl+f for searching documents does not constitute tech savviness.

(31)(3)

Anonymous

Savage bantz

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Stop drinking that Linklaters Kool Aid

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Links’s PE practice sux son. We got it apl here at CMS; we work with Europe’s finest funds! NoName Capital ftw!

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Does legal cheek not understand what discretionary means? The language used in this article implies they will unequivocally earn 100k. The reality is that there is the ability to earn that amount, not a manifest right to it.

(16)(0)

Anonymous

“This figure includes a discretionary performance bonus”

Which part are you struggling with?

(0)(7)

Anonymous

That it implies that NQs are entitled to 100k…

(3)(0)

Anonymous

The Lawyer reported that 98% of associates or something were eligible last year.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Eligibility and entitlement are two different things, which is the very point of making bonuses discretionary.

Anonymous

Few people would’ve got >5k

Anonymous

What part of “discretionary” are you having trouble processing?

Got SEN?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What my learned friend above said.

If the statement is that someone will be paid a sum of money, that is the sum payable, as suggested in the article. To suggest otherwise from the primary statement made would be a deduction of wages.

The actual position is that part of the pay packet is discretionary. It should therefore be presented as base salary plus discretionary bonus or correctly qualified, which has not been done here.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I’m a partner in a mid-sized regional firm. I have no issue at all with the amounts paid to NQs by large corporate firms; or the articles on Legal Cheek on the topic.

My issue, as pedantic as it sounds, is the imagery used in the articles . . .

As previous observers have pointed out, people earning c.£100k a year generally don’t fly on private jets at their own expense. If you’re earning c.£100k, living in London and spending your money either a) in a casino; or b) drinking Ace of Spades, you probably won’t be making it onto the housing ladder any time soon.

This latest image is the most idiotic of the lot. Basically it’s saying “I’ve just qualified at Linklaters which isn’t a US firm; so I’ll very logically stuff my jacket pocket full of US dollars.”

The best way of illustrating these articles would be as follows: a) pictures of desks, at night; b) pictures of offices buildings, at night, with lots of lights still switched on.

(78)(5)

Anonymous

You bore

(9)(6)

K&E Phatman

Congrats on being a partner in a mid-sized regional firm. You must be a very good lawyer indeed.

(23)(43)

Big Diggs Higgs

Great chat minion!

(2)(1)

A. Mags

Yes boi

(1)(0)

Anonymous

tede

(1)(0)

ROFLCOPTER

“mid-sized regional firm”

Sounds pretty THICC

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Girthy, top equity big regional dolla

(4)(0)

Anonymous

So, do you, as partner in a mid-size regional firm, make over £95k ?

(2)(1)

future bclp trainee

Any chance silver circle firms will follow this increase in salaries too? obv their salaries will never be able to compete with these 100k MC ones but would be interesting to know if they will at least be pushed up to alleviate the massive gap that currently is between MC and SC nq salaries..

(3)(1)

Anonymous

BCLP is in no state to raise salaries anywhere near this level so sorry friend:(

HSF and maybe travers are the only remaining firms that you can expect to properly react to these raises

(9)(0)

Anonymous

No chance of Ashurst doing this since they got mega cucked by upping to only £82k

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Ashurst raised to 82 last year. They could easily raise the salaries again this year in response to the MC 100k uplift.

(3)(3)

Anonymous

They won’t – that rise to 82k took a lot out of them and Ashurst has always paid noticeably less than the MC anyways

I can 100% promise you that ashurst won’t be reacting to these recent raises in the near future

Anonymous

Hogan Lovells upped to 92 base salary plus upto 117 with bonus

bclp trainee

why is bclp in no state to do so?

(1)(0)

tundi

Cos it be shet

(23)(1)

Anonymous

Not profitable enough and their flagship department (real estate) is very vulnerable to brexit

(3)(0)

Anonymous

With revenues approaching 1bln, revenue per lawyer and profit per lawyer can’t be far behind. We don’t have post-merger financials yet.

Anonymous

Revenues and revenue per lawyer/PEP are completely separate figures.

Slaughter and May far outstrips DLA in profits per partner and revenue per lawyer despite having far less revenue overall

Anonymous

I agree, mostly. Slaughters is profitable due to low expenses (few foreign offices). However, profits and revenue are not completely divorced; large revenue usually helps profitability, if management is worth their salt.

Anonymous

Bclp is a sinking ship that plugged a hole by selling itself to some obscure man called Bryan Cave. Apparently he stutters and suffers from flatulence.

Anonymous

Lol, UK law is dying bro. Save yourself aboard the US titan Greenberg Glusker!!!

Anonymous

I think you mean BLP you plebeian.

HSF NQ

HSF have a band for NQ base salaries. My current base competes with Hogan Lovells’ but could potentially have been higher.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

What is the band range for NQs then? I always thought the HSF NQ base salary was just set at 78k – not competitive with 90k, the new HL base

(2)(0)

Anonymous

You’ve got no idea

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I do, brah. Would never work there or Macs coz they’d screen me out for not bring named ‘Hugo Turnbull XII’

Anonymous

HSBC Branch Manager: Thanks for coming in today to discuss your requirements for a potential mortgage. We typically lend up to 5 times salary for an individual. I don’t know if you have your P60 to hand or any related data …
Links NQ: My pay packet is £100k.
HSBC Branch Manager: OK, we tend not to focus so much on total “pay packets”, as our underwriting team looks only at “base salary”. We can sometimes factor in any overtime, commission or discretionary bonuses, but that is of course assessed at a lower multiple.
Links NQ: But I earn 100k – my HR team told the whole intake this. We are earning six figures. I’ve got the email if you want to have a look.
HSBC Branch Manager: So what is your base salary?
Links NQ: I’m sorry, but 100k is the only relevant figure here.
HSBC Branch Manager: Do you have a payslip I can look at?
Links NQ: Yes, but it only shows my pay on a monthly basis. You won’t see the actual 100k earnings from that.
HSBC Bank Manager: Let’s try this a different way – what element of this “100k pay packet” is a bonus, and is it discretionary or guaranteed?
Links NQ: Our HR team told Legal Cheek that we earn 100k, so I can’t see why this question even comes into consideration.
HSBC Bank Manager: I’m sorry, but ever since we had an NQ from Freshfields applying for a mortgage in principle with us in 2016 telling us that he was “on £85k”, before he curmbled into a heap after we interrogated him for two hours on the meaning of these so-called “career milestones” and his discretionary bonus (he eventually admitted that he was only on a base salary of £69k), we have had to explore salary in much greater detail with all of our young professional applicants.
Links NQ: That may be so with Freshfields, but my firm has unambiguously made clear to all media outlets and internal comms that all of its NQs “earn 100k”.
HSBC Bank Manager: Right. So what’s your base salary.
Links NQ [After three hours of questioning]: I don’t actually know.

(121)(0)

Links September NQ

95k is base

(12)(0)

Anonyman

This will result in the gradual trickle down to the mid-sized international and larger national firms. I suspect that within the next 18 months or so firms simply won’t be able to attract the best talent but ‘only’ offering NQ salaries within the £60-68k range.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

Except for a top firm like DWF, they’ve got crowds in front of their doors

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Not sure about that. The middle of the market is increasingly fighting over scraps and doing shit low value work. With these pay rises, they’ll feel the heat even more and won’t likely be able to match or even chuck more at their toiling associates to keep them happy. The next 10 years will either witness a chain of mergers in the UK mid market, or full on financial meltdowns and mass redundancies, likely a combination of both

(5)(0)

Anonyman

That’d be bleak. Although realistically speaking a fair few of those firms should be able to withstand this as some of them are ‘top tier’ firms for certain areas of law despite being labeled as ‘mid-sized’. Examples that come to mind include HFW for aviation, RPC for insurance, Irwin Mitchell for personal injury etc.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Hi, I’m an expert in a very niche area of law. I do contracts for specific projects or transactions.

I’m seeing a great disparity developing between UK and US firms, almost to the point that it is barely worth doing the work for UK firms.

£3k post-tax month at 5 PQE for difficult work ans long hours? I’d rather chillax tbh

Just can’t get the staff? Pay more

(4)(4)

Anonymous

The Magic Circle were holding out on paying until this very moment. This is finally a decent pay for the type of work being done, though still not ideal. Sadly, the City firms below the MC are severely overpaying (same hours; much less pay). Law ain’t what it once was.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. Just look at CMS or SPB: boiler room conditions and intense hours for pennies. Run for the hills

(3)(0)

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

It’s like a dry sauna in here – somebody please help me escape.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Shut up, whiner; go work at Tesco, then complain

Anonymous

Would probably be better off at a top US firm like K&E or Simpson Thacher…

(6)(1)

Anonymous

or BAKER BOTTS

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Absolutely awful firm, avoid

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Wjhy

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Psychotic staff and absolutely no work origination, merely a satellite for its US offices. Zero prospects of any real promotion, and even the pay ain’t top US whack anymore (currently £110k)

Anonymous

What do people think of Simpson Thacher?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Best firm in the world. Hardest to get into.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Waaaaay better than K&E, S&C or Skadden

(0)(0)

Anonymous

straight up unadulterated psychopathy

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Why?

(0)(0)

Mike Rotch

I’ll be honest. I really don’t understand the pissing contest that goes on with these articles. Factoring in taxes, pension contributions, and student loan payments, after a point salary increases become negligible.

(12)(1)

Anonymous

So you want to be paid the same for ever?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

I just don’t understand how these near-identical articles keep getting so much attention.
Of course firms in London pay a lot. Is it really news that an NQ salary at one is marginally more than another?

(2)(2)

Anonymous

I believe it is called dick waving or a pissing contest.

Add the anonymity and thus the possibility to make believe you’re a super duper lawyer in a top firm and not a law student who has fuck all to his name but his university card, and it’s obvious why those articles attract comments. People like to make believe.

Also the profession does attract people motivated by money. So money makes people talk.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

CMS to £85k after record financials. Heard it here first.

(1)(0)

Jabba Warne

Lmao jog on mate, never gon’ happen

Anon

Straight to the comments for the utter bantz

(8)(0)

CommentsCheek

I don’t even bother reading these toilet articles, I just come here for the bantz

(5)(0)

So bored of idiots

Legal Cheek really needs to consider getting rid of the anonymous comments and enforce logged in user comments only.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Anonymous commenting is an essential internet liberty

Maybe Legal Cheek should do a piece about that

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Shut up – are you poor or something?

(0)(1)

Jonny Houston

How much would a 4PQE be earning at Links or the rest of the Magic Circle?

It seems that the raise at the NQ level is not being replicated uniformly for more senior lawyers and so this is not representative for associates in general.

(7)(0)

1q

It is just baffling that the firms have been allowed to get away with no scrutiny whatsoever from the legal press when they’re all (perhaps excluding Freshfields?) bunching salaries between NQ-5Q.

You are an NQ for about 2.5-3% of your legal career. Nice headlines, frankly unimportant metric.

(6)(0)

Oscar Wilde

This should be the scandal – firms raising NQ rates while keeping other associate rates basically the same, but only publishing the NQ rate to intentionally deceive people into thinking that the firm pays associates more than they do. Bit pathetic that they have to hide their other associate pay levels and confuse the situation with guaranteed but discretionary bonuses. At least US firms publish NY rates for each level.

Lesson: MC firms are paying most associates less than they are trying to fool people into believing.

(14)(0)

MC Associate

I have a lot of time for this comment

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Sit back Boyz, clearing hasn’t happened yet and all the big shot Suits binge watchers are out in force.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Lol top bantZ

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Meanwhile, I’d just be happy to get a TC anywhere – from CMS and DLA to HSF and Freshfields.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

CMS, topppppppp

(1)(1)

Anonymous

From someone who aspires tot become Links associate from “the continent”, why is there such a gap between pay at the firms headquartes and its other outposts in say, Amsterdam?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

because London actually makes money through corporate and ICM and the like

whereas Amsterdam is only good for weed and the odd wind turbine finance deal

(6)(1)

Anonymous

You mad? Amsterdam rakes it in with tax and all its surrounding elements. Even corporate makes hefty wedge.

(1)(1)

Amsterdam Lawyer

That, and the market also. There are no elite US firms paying crazy salarys with a footprint in Amsterdam, the way there are in London. So the upward pressure on salaries is pretty much non existent in Amsterdam.

Similar views in other cities on the continent where there’s no US elite presence.
Take Brussels, you have a few US outfits there only doing antitrust (SullCrom, Skadden, Gibson dunn,..) paying fat cheques, so as a result only antitrust lawyers of all MC firms in Brussels earn “a premium” of 30-40% more than all other associates of the firm.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I was wondering because so many multinationals headquartes are located in The Netherlands

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Freshfields wins.

(1)(0)

Greed is the avarice of all evil

Ridiculous for NQs that are wet behind the ears and have lots still to learn. Associates salary not going up in equal measure is a mockery.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

I’m all dried up

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Dont think you know what avarice means

(0)(1)

Comments are closed.