Hogan Lovells and Simmons latest to up junior lawyer pay

By on

£100k and £88k

City law firms are continuing to splash the cash to ensure they attract and retain the best junior lawyer talent.

Hogan Lovells confirmed newly qualified (NQ) base rates now sit at £100,000, an uplift of 11% from £90,000. The firm added that its freshly-minted associates will also be eligible for performance-related bonuses of up to 35% of salary, which could see pay packets swell to as much as £135,000.

The move puts Hogan Lovells’ NQs on the same cash levels as many of their magic circle counterparts, with Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Allen & Overy all upping base rates to £100k in recent weeks.

Hogan Lovells’ London trainees are cashing in too, with year one salary bands moving from £46,000 to £47,500, and year two bands rising from £51,000 to £52,500 — uplifts of 3% across the board.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

In other pay rise news, Simmons & Simmons has upped NQ rates in London to £88,000, a boost of 5% from £84,000. Salaries are also up 5% in the firm’s Bristol office, from £53,500 to £56,000.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows Hogan Lovells and Simmons dish out around 50 and 24 training contracts, respectively.

Yesterday, Legal Cheek reported Macfarlanes had upped NQ rates by 6% to £90,000, with the firm saying it expects newbie associates to “earn in excess of £100k this financial year taking into account all elements of their package”.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter


HL fan club

Hogan Lovells, finally a U.K. firm with some balls

Breaking the dumb hierarchy of U.K. firm pay. The whole “we aren’t MC so we must offer slightly less than them (even if we can afford to match)” is over.

Travers be bold and do the same eh.



Almost like they read the poster who commented yesterday about how weird it was that firms stayed within the confines of their ‘bubble’ set by a journalist in the 90s haha



Very impressive from them, if anything MC firms could have afforded to increase even more considering they cut salaries last year and have enjoyed bumper profits over the same periods



HL may be showing us how the UK firms can try to address this issue (US firm pay). Give everyone a decent enough base (£100k) but create discretion for partners to hand the small number of associates they care about most (either because they’re stars or they’re in an area like PE or levfin) a significant bonus that takes their package closer to the base of a US firm.



No NQ is getting a 35k bonus. All the UK firms need to stop publishing fake numbers which, even if taken into account, leave you at least 10-15k behind the US base.



If a HL associate who a partner likes/needs gets an offer from a US firm, the partner can now promise the associate a bonus high enough to meaningfully reduce the difference in pay. It will be rare but it probably will happen from time to time as a retention tool.



I don’t disagree with your point but certainly not for a junior associate/NQ. You might pay a higher bonus to retain a star senior associate, but again, no NQ is getting a 35k bonus when they are all expendable/replaceable despite whatever HL’s policy might say is technically possible.

Even if you assume HL are giving NQ’s 35k bonuses on the rare occasion, you better believe that associate will have worked for it – in which case, why not just go to the US firm where you know you will get at least 140k+ guaranteed in base salary plus bonus on top (which unlike UK firms is not banded or based on hours or other vague metrics – most US firms operate on the basis that you get the bonus if you are still employed).

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not attacking HL. To the contrary, I think what they have done is admirable (looking at you MC) but it is still nowhere near closing the US gap in a meaningful way.


Magic square

Mayer Brown are the same. Decent profits but refusal to enter the big pay packet leagues. Maybe they will follow HL…


Holy moly

Hogan Lovells woke up and chose violence 😈🔥🔥



making HSF’s raise seem a little on the low side…


Getting annoyed

FBD embarrassing themselves yet again. Deny the trainees and NQs a covid bonus and now nothing at all on the pay rise front. Will still beast us US style tho….



FBD showing their true colours… complete contempt for juniors (inc. on trainee pay where it’s lower than CC, Baker McKenzie, Ashurst, NRF, I could go on…)


Ex Freshfields Vac Schemer

Surely they have to raise now after being on 100k for two years now…..
Yes, fair play to them for not lowering salaries during COVID but if you still consider yourself the best UK-HQ firm, then show it and put your money where your mouth is



Good on HL. THIS is how you compete for talent.
No conservative pay rises like Ashurst or Macs (who now pay only 2k more than low tiered DLA and BCLP) .

Makes you realise the whole “U.K. firms can’t match US because they can’t afford it” is a load of BS. Because if HL can afford 100k, no reason why MC firms couldn’t have afforded 120-130. Considering the differences in revenues and profits.



Rank the SC



After this:
1. HL
2. The rest



With Hogan Lovells at 100 now, what does that mean for lots of Firms? The MC which seems to (apart from Slaughters atm) have consolidated at 100 – do they have to raise again?

The firms like Ashurst who rose to 90 – raise again?

Firms in a *similar* ilk to Hogans – Baker McKenzie, NRF, Mayer Brown – who have in some cases been overtaken by DLA, BCLP etc – surely they have to get to around 95k at least?

Very interesting, and fair play to Hogans for this decent rise – hope for 1+PQs they have also seen rises for their hard work



All associates, senior associates and counsels got a £10k+ pay increase. Pretty sweet for 2y PQEs who are on £120-125k without bonus.



Are associates at HL on lockstep?


Curiosity Cat

Anyone know about Simmons’ bonuses? Could you be hitting £100k there post bonus? Genuinely curious



Yes, it’s feasible assuming you hit target of 1700 billables. More than likely if you hit 1800+



Any indication of Osborne Clarke and Burges Salmon matching the Simmons & Simmons Bristol NQ pay? Poor from them if they don’t.


OC Associate

Nothing from OC yet despite internally reporting a significant increase in net profit this year!


Inside OC



CMS trainee

Jokes how CMS’s pay rise was actually internally announced prior to the pay war to catch up with rises two years ago, but they announced it publicly recently to look like it was in response to the current situation. Basically means they still have to play catch up


Give me a tc please

Oh wow that makes Hogan Lovell’s such a better place to seek a TC if what I’ve heard about their culture and quality of work is true compared to MC/US


Random observer

For all these pay increase articles being released by LC, HL’s news is probably the most significant. Finally a firm with some balls who’ve matched the MC on pay.
Interesting given that some of these MC’s are now behind the curve (looking at you S+M and A&O who’s NQ rate is actually a base of 90k and a 10k signing on bonus for a total of 100k -done so that they can shaft 1 year PQE level by raising the base slightly but not offering any guaranteed bonus thereafter meaning the gap between NQ and 1 year PQE is smaller than one imagines). Also suspect this is the case at other MC’s to some degree. Will be interesting to see if Travers match and if FBD are forced to raise, which in turn makes the other MC’s raise too in order to keep in line. I imagine there’s many annoyed Partners across the city today who love nothing more than to try and suppress junior pay as much as they can (looking at you Links partners) and will be swearing at their screens reading the news coming out of HL today.


Wheeler dealer

*correction: A&O current NQ base salary is not £100k. It is 90k plus one off 10k sign on bonus (with no performance bonus offered across the board in first year). This update from HL now blows them out the water…



A&O essentially now at same level as Macs and Slaughters. Great move by HL, finally showing signs of a competitive market amongst UK firms and not just MC elitism.


2021 starter

Dentons get a move on


Can't take any more of these articles

If there is another Moneylaw article I am never visiting this site again.

Seriously, no one cares.


Captain Obvious

The number of comments, the reactions to them, and the obvious point that if LC weren’t making any ad money through them they would stop doing them, suggests you’re wrong


A&O Banking NQ

Feels great knowing that HL NQs will be getting a higher total comp post-performance bonus than us, guess it’s justified by the great sense of pride and accomplishment we get from closing low-margin ESG, Islamic finance and blockchain deals though…



Your fault for qualifying there instead of in M&A/PE where you could leverage a move


Which firm

Where would you move to



best bet is a US firm that pays well but that is not one of the “top”. You would be getting a 10-20% uplift in salary (and 30%+ after a few years, if you factor in the bonus) for equal if not less hours.

Or just pick a US firm which is really good in a certain sector in London but do not work in that sector.

Example: Milbank is a top shop for LevFin/Highyield, go do PE there.



Is FS advisory a good seat to qualify in


FS Anon

Yes. Generally great hours


Outstanding Move

decent exits in financial institutions (boring roles though).

Elite advisory area is probably tax. Requires a lot of brains though!



Did all associates get a pay increase or just NQs?


Avoidable Scenario

Apparently all of them. This move of just raising NQ salaries to give the appearance of raises is a joke otherwise. Imagine NQs and 2PQEs almost getting the same…



All associates got a £10k increase, senior associates/counsels got slightly more



Any news on Dentons?



What are the best seats to qualify into for general exit /lateral options with better than terrible hours?


PE World

Better exits will always be for transactional (corporate/finance people).

Otherwise, pick selected advisory roles such as tax/FS. Decent exits albeit for generally dull(er) positions.


Training Contract Offer Holder

Genuine question, is there a reason people keep mocking DLA Piper on this forum?

I have offers from DLA and another firm which people keep calling far stronger in the comments. I had intended to take DLA given they’ll let me start earlier + the pay difference (right now anyway) is <10k at NQ level and negligible at trainee level.


Happy to Help

For us to be able to answer honestly, we will need to know what the other Firm is


Training Contract Offer Holder

It’s one of the firms in the comment by Respect at Jul 14 2021 11:18am above where they suggested it should increase to at least 95k. It has significantly more Chambers UK rankings than DLA and is generally given a lot more respect in the comments here.

I am slightly unsure whether it’s worth waiting an extra year to start, given I’ve seen so many on Linkedin people lateral pretty much wherever.


Happy to Help/Respect

Tbf – I am the one who originally asked – I am a future trainee at NRF and am very happy and looking forward to it – I know people like to mock all firms on here apart from the elite American firms and the ones increasing salaries like HL today, but in the real world people care less about prestige and things like this – some people want the money and go American, others value more of a w/l balance and go to ‘lesser’ UK HQ firms

I know people that turned down Latham to go to Baker McKenzie, very talented people ecstatic with DLA (London office), I am happy with NRF and turned down an American firm for them

Just have got to think long term and make the best decision FOR YOU. Ignore the noise and all the best



@Happy to Help / Respect

Hey man! A friend of mine is also a future trainee at NRF. Could you please share a couple insights regarding the firm?

For example: (i) what kind of uni did you go too? (ii) what is the environment like at NRF London? (iii) did you paralegal or go straight from uni? (iv) do you plan to stay at NRF or is it just a stepping stone for you? (v) if you have friends in other City firms, how do you think NRF compares to those firms?


Happy to Help

Hey Pre-boarded
Sorry I can’t really answer most of those since I haven’t started yet – did non-law at top Russell group (not Oxbridge) – haven’t done any paralegal work – not really sure yet re how long I plan to stay there but wouldn’t say I’m using it as a stepping stone – depends on seats/culture/future opportunities/life circumstances etc


In the nicest way possible, if you are going to NRF expecting a better culture or anywhere near decent work life balance you’ve got a bit of a shock coming


Do not pick a firm solely based on the fact you can start a bit earlier that is dumb (unless you are seriously in need of money).

Where you train is incredibly important. It shapes your entire career. I wouldn’t pick DLA over a stronger firm just because I could start a little earlier. How absurd.



Not really. If firms are equivalent (like DLA-Bakers-HL-HSF-Dentons-NRF-Sheds-Simmons-2Birds-BCLP-Mishcon-CMS), then what matters are the seats/deals you do if you want to move upon qualification.

The rest is pretty much irrelevant from my personal experience.


it has an office in sheffield so I’ll let you guess why it gets mocked



DLA Piper is a bit like McDonalds. As a business it’s not necessarily bad, as it carries out an important role in the market, but it’s not quality.



What are people’s genuine thoughts on Simmons? What are the prospects of lateralling out from there to say MC/US firms at NQ because they really don’t seem to be paying at the scale that they can?


PE World

They are. PEP at Simmons is literally half of the MCs. In fact, they are paying more than they can compared to the MC.

Simmons are still a very reputable firm. Pick an area of the law you enjoy and go with it. You will always have good options ahead of you and a decent w/l balance.


Regrets everything

I trained and qualified in a US firm 1-3 years ago. Here is a snapshot of where people ended up from my TC:

– 1st seat, almost everyone has left: over 6 associates, and all are U.K./MC but one is at another US firm, another transatlantic (paid U.K. rate), and another went IH. 1 person is still at the firm.

– 2nd seat – 1 U.K. firm, 3 IH, 1 still there

– 3rd seat – 3 or 4 IH, 2 U.K. firms, 4 still there

– 4th seat – 2 IH, , 1 U.K. firm, 2 moved to other US firms and 1 still there at firm

It’s just a point about retention and how much money you really drain from these firms. Also I know everyone is money happy here, but IH doesn’t generally pay that well.


Mishcon NQs

What about us??



Thoughts on Mayer Brown as a firm?


Comments are closed.