Freshfields dishes out bonuses following Covid salary freeze

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Catch-up cash for UK lawyers and staff

Magic circle player Freshfields is the latest law firm to hand out bonuses to lawyers and staff. The additional cash comes after the firm, like many of its City rivals, opted to freeze pay in April 2020 to negate the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

All eligible UK lawyers and support staff will receive bonuses, with the firm aiming to fully compensate staff for the salary freeze which was eventually lifted in April of this year.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Legal Cheek understands the awards are not so-called ‘Covid bonuses’ like those favoured by many City outfits, but rather bonuses in recognition of its positive financial results during a uniquely challenging year.

Freshies’ MC rivals have dished out extra cash in recent months too, with Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Slaughter and May providing lawyers and staff with special 5% one-off bonuses.

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MC Trainee

Importantly (and not made clear here) trainees get nothing. Very poor from Freshfields after the beasting they’ve received.






Milbank upped NQ salary by $10,000 today


To make matters worse…

As did several other US firms for that matter. The salary war is on!


MC trainee

Very true – and also NQs who have recently qualified (i.e. last two intakes) and do not qualify for a bonus.



Rofl seriously? That’s spectacular tight fistedness from Freshfields.


Macfarlanes 2PQE

Ok buddy, time to stop pretending you’re a trainee, let alone at a MC firm. Leave the discussion here to the real lawyers.

That contract law textbook won’t open itself 📚



Macfarlanes? Isn’t that a boutique private client firm? £85k NQ LOL. How do you even pay rent?



£1.9m PEP pal – higher than ANY MC firm. Shows how clueless you really are. Get with the times – embarrassing



Not higher than slaughters and how many associates do you think will be made up? Maybe 1-2 per intake if you’re lucky.


Ah. Another clown who has aspirations of making partner despite being a trainee at best and more likely a law student. Besides thinking that Macfarlanes has a higher PEP than Slaughters (LOL), you will never get close to equity at any firm regardless. Enjoy having your back broken by 60 year old partners who make the big bucks while you toil away for slave wages. Stay delusional.


Additional cash for hard work …… Not to trainees or NQs though! Do they deserve them? I think so.


Fleet Street

Aren’t their NQs already on 100k base, higher than any other MC firm by a long way and the only firm who didn’t cut NQ pay for covid?


Fleet Street

only MC firm that is


A&O the Banking King

Literally wrong.



I think you’ve missed the point. The point is: the whole firm gets additional cash, apart from trainees and NQs. That’s not right. The fact the NQs are already on high pay is irrelevant. The firm’s hard work is being acknowledged, so it follows that should include the trainees and NQs.



Biggest MC sweatshop by far. You’ll truly be worked as hard as US juniors for significantly worse pay.



I’ve met a few ex-freshfield who say it was far worse than US. Not only hours but general culture. Yet to meet anyone with anything good to say


CMS Trainee

Total banter firm and that’s coming from me.


Meme Firm Alert

As if you wouldn’t give a limb to work at Freshfields. Imagine having colleagues in Reading or Sheffield.


Kirkland Trainee

Imagine having colleagues in Manchestahh, not much better! All my homies are in Shanghai and Boston.


CMS Trainee

You’re probably one of my colleagues in Sheffield tbh – you’ll make it in the big city one day mate.



Aren’t these just catch up payments following the freeze? Hardly a bonus if you have to pay more tax on it this year



You have to pay tax on bonuses anyway


Voice of Reason

These pinheads above being naive enough to believe that Slaughters is still a MC firm 😂😂

Slaughters, whilst a very respectable shop, is not a MC firm and hasn’t been for years kids, its revenues, strategy, culture, and office-network, inter alia, have little alignment with what constitutes the rest of the MC. SC status is way more accurate – but then that’s a truth you’re too weak to want to hear, isn’t it?

Freshers these days have no chance 😂


Bar > City Law

Sounds like you got rejected from a vac scheme there. Back to your Bright Network insight scheme, Durham Grad



“inter alia” eh?

Why, you must be quite the erudite City lawyer indeed. Well done.


Fat Joe and Ashanti

Slaughters is pretty unique in the UK market (coming from a mid-level at another MC firm). Closest comparison for Slaughters is Hengeler Mueller in Germany, or maybe Cravath in the US. Who cares how they’re characterised though? (If you do care though, they’re definitely not SC – too much top end talent and high-value work)

Comment above reeks of someone having no idea about the City market…


Voice of Reason

Uh-huhhhh, ok thanks fresher…

I actually have a TC offer from Kirkland which I’d say pretty much renders your comment redundant, doesn’t it now?




Slaughters equivalent in US is surely Wachtell?


if calling Slaughters SC is an insult perhaps consider it's not an SC firm and never was?

Slaughters advises on far more valuable transactions than any of the SC firms. It also charges more and is higher rated across a greater number of its practices – perhaps with the exception of HSF, which is a tricky firm to classify in its own right.

(Obligatory aside given that this is LC: the calibre of your typical Slaughters trainee is so much higher than that of a trainee at the SC firms, which seem to be infested with chippy Warwick and Bristol 2.1s in History. So there’s a distinction there as well.)


NRF Financial Services Associate

Sorry but nrf should be seen as MC if slaughters is. Not joking either


Big Bantz

NRF is of the same ilk as Clydes, Dentons and Baker McDonalds in my book. Firms that colonise foreign lands with offices wherever they go – from Nigeria to Kazakhstan – for no apparent reason other than profit, have pitiful PEP that a Slaughters partner wouldn’t even get out of bed for, and are about the least respected names in the industry in terms of prestige. If my son told me he was going to work at NRF, I’d seriously consider revoking his phat inheritance.


What do you mean

“for no apparent reason other than profit”

…well, yeah.



Millbank upped NQ salary by $10,000 today let the US salary wars commence


K&E M&A PA LA Extraordinaire

pathetic and sad do they even LIFT



Imagine starting your TC online, getting no induction dinner or social budget, getting beasted nonstop while WFH, and then when they announce bonuses you have to figure out for yourself that you don’t even qualify for one because they literally don’t even mention trainees in the announcement. Hard to swallow tbh.


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