HSF raises NQ ‘total compensation’ to £107k

By on

Posts 97% autumn trainee retention result

Herbert Smith Freehills’ London office

Herbert Smith Freehills has raised the “total compensation” of its newly qualified (NQ) solicitors to £107,000 and confirmed an autumn trainee retention result of 97%.

NQs in the London office now earn £107,000 comprised of base salary and bonus, up from £105,000. Herbies does not disclose its base salary and a previous Legal Cheek estimate put this at around £93,000.

Trainees at the firm earn £47,000 in their first year, rising to £52,000 in their second year.

In other firm news, Herbies has posted a strong autumn retention score of 97%, keeping 28 out of 29 qualifying trainees. The firm confirmed all 29 had made applications for permanent positions but made 28 offers, all of which were accepted. None are on fixed-term contracts.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

David Rosen, training principal at Herbert Smith Freehills, commented:

“We are delighted to have achieved another very high retention rate this round. This reflects the high calibre of our trainees and our firm commitment to investing in our people. It also underlines our ambition and desire to recruit and retain the best junior lawyers in the sector. Congratulations to all of our qualifying trainees.”

Herbies performed well in the previous retention round, scoring 93% (28 out of 30) in spring 2021. However, its last autumn score in 2020 was lower “in light of the unprecedented uncertainty caused by Covid-19”. The firm kept only 69% (22 out of 32) of its qualifying cohort but its result this year is a marked improvement.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter



Imagine being that one trainee…ooooof



tHis firm has been quit for a very long time. When I saw the caption, I was like : what is HSF.

Not a good thing



Don’t smoke crack rocks this early in the day son, ain’t good for you.


BM Junior NL

The real MC



Fat bulge, fatter whack.



Any of the NQs being shipped off the Canary Wharf office, or is it still only a haven for the back-office admin?

Exchange House is looking dated AF. Wonder if they’re going move the full shop at any point.



What are the 1 PQE and 2 PQE salaries are HSF?



They increased by 2k…..

Right, off trot the already fleeing junior associates



Showing the MCs who’s the REAL BOSS.



Urm no they aren’t showing anyone whose boss. HSF still aren’t revealing base pay so you can guarantee it’s still hovering around 90k



It was 95k when I was offered a TC before.


Liar Police

Training Contracts don’t state NQ salary on the paperwork so I doubt this comment is true


De-Fund the Police Protestor

They often disclose this type of information to TC offer holders, for example at their designated offer holder days (personal experience). So, yes, you’re right about it not being ‘on the paperwork’… but you’d want to check you don’t jump to any conclusions, officer.

Oh dear

Correct, you little cretin, but believe it or not you have the capability to ask the firm before signing. I mean, you’d know this if you ever received a TC offer, which is highly unlikely given you are probably in Year 12.


Mine did. The role offer letter said I’d have a minimum guaranteed salary of £X starting on the date of my qualification.


Think bonus is only payable as well if you’re above average on hours….ie no bonus for 50%


Freshfields Vac Schemer

Waiting for you, Freshfields.



Waiting for Slaughters too…



Think they’ve decided: no change again this year.



FF really lagging behind. NQs not even eligible for a bonus for first year after qualification, so not sure how much longer they can try to hide behind their claim to be “top of the market”…overtaken in total comp even by Macfarlanes now lol.



Not strictly relevant to this article, but thoughts on Fried Frank?

I know NQ salary is huge, but not much on the rep of the firm online.

Any input would be much appreciated.



Relatively obscure firm with a few decent teams. Assuming you love getting greased up and bogged down in mindnumbingly-boring funds work, it’s the firm for you.

Utter nobody on the big-ticket M&A/PE side of things.


PE World

@Chinny – are you serious?

There are a couple of partners at FF in London which are very well respected in the PE scene and have deals at the level of Weil/Kirkland.

I would say the usual for any “small” office of a major US firm: very high quality work in few selected areas. Deal quality will be very high but the overall market impact, given it will be a team of >10 as opposed to 100+, will be more contained.

You probably won’t be making partner at FF like at any MC/SC firm. That being said, what you will be making at FF is a lot more money.

Also, if you’re in M&A/PE the exit opportunities are just as good since you will probably just be landing at clients of the firm. Again, these are major PE sponsors for example.



Thanks for this.

I know FF have poached quite a few leading partners, and have an excellent structured finance/asset management practice.

Any thoughts on training at the firm?


PE World

Again, FF has partners like Dan Oates who are considered top of the market for PE (the most prestigious area of work atm and for the foreseeable future). It’s a much smaller team but the deals that team acts on are extremely high-end. This generates high calibre work for other departments such as funds etc. Plus remember that FF is a white shoe institution in New York so still a big “brand”.

FF, unlike some other US shops, is still relatively smaller in size in London (still not extremely small). So the only “negatives” will be that you’ll have a very demanding environment with less support. You will be able to rely on a lot of the US facilities but it will be a smaller feeling in the end nevertheless.

Regarding training, this is where it will be either amazing or horrible. Personally, I am the kind of person that would do well at FF (I have trained in a similar environment).

Having said this, I understand it’s not for everyone. You will probably have a lot less structure and hand holding throughout. Not so many seminars and tutorial sessions but more hands-on on live deal(s).

This can either be amazing or crippling. It does not even depend on FF but on the kind of mid-levels/senior associates your team will have. If they will be good mentors, you will be NQ and hitting like a 2-3 PQE at a MC. By contrast, you could have had a terrible experience and none of this if they turn out to be the opposite.

Feel free to ask more questions. Hope I can help in any way 🙂


Mind-numbingly boring? What do you know? Better than some other deal monkey areas.


Law Postgrad

Not strictly relevant to this article, but thoughts on Fried Frank?

I know NQ salary is huge, but there is not that much on the firm online.

Any input would be grateful.


PE World

Read my above comment. I am more than happy to provide more insight. I know the London corporate (M&A/PE) market very well – or at least I think I do!

Just ask if any specific questions if you’re curious! Also, I do not have any ties whatsoever with FF so cannot give any work environment or insight of that kind.




“I know the London corporate (M&A/PE) market very well – or at least I think I do!“

Lmao p*ss off you flog 😂🤡


PE World

Why is it such a mind-boggling statement to you?

You know that real lawyers who work in M&A/PE exist in London right? Which means, in turn, that after a few good years in said positions said people would have a decent knowledge of the market they operate in.

Seriously, so many children on here and not enough real professionals…


Look at this flog


It’s coming home

What’s the best firm that pays 100k to do IP with not stupid hours and good work life balance?



bird & bird by a mile, then taylor wessing if you want a chilled work/life balance but it’s not even close to the strong IP players


no point

Any kind of bump in the 100-120k region is pretty much not even worth it, might as well keep it at 100k until able to jump to 120k…

Also let’s appreciate LC’s journalism genius by the quarter – 1st quarter was a firm by firm article every second day on their new diversity targets, now (2nd quarter) it is a firm by firm article every second day on their NQ raises, 3rd quarter I expect a firm by firm article on covid return policies, and 4th quarter probably a sum up of their most read articles from 2021…


Comments are closed.

Related Stories