Linklaters joins magic circle rivals in upping NQ lawyer pay to £100k

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New base rate follows similar rises by Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy

Magic circle outfit Linklaters has upped the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London to £100,000, following similar moves by some of its elite UK-headquartered rivals.

The firm’s new associates will now earn a base rate of £100,000, plus a discretionary bonus, up from a previous figure of £92,500.

The money move matches those recently announced by Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, and means Slaughter and May is now the only member of the magic circle not to provide a six-figure base rate to NQs (£90,500). Taking an early lead, Freshfields boosted junior lawyer pay packets to £100k in the summer of 2019.

Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows Links dishes out around 100 TCs annually, the highest of any other City outfit, and offers trainees a salary of £50,000 in year one, rising to £55,000 in year two.

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A host of firms have upped their cash offerings in recent weeks. Ashurst and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner bumped junior lawyer pay to £90,000 and £88,000, respectively, while Eversheds Sutherland raised rates to £82,000. Elsewhere, Pinsent Masons boosted pay in London to £75,000.

US firms in London have been fighting a pay war too, with some young associates now trousering northwards of £145,000 upon qualification.

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MR, Esq.



LL Trainee

Trainee pay at Linklaters now £50,000 and £55,000 for first and second-year trainees respectively



It’s now 55k and 60k at Kirkland lol


Okay, Actually Serious Question.

Future Trainee at Kirkland. My contract says 50k and 55k. Will I receive a new contract – how do these things work?



Ask grad recruitment if you’re desperate to know, otherwise just wait until you join and you’ll probably be notified… hopefully you’ll have a better go at tackling issues when you’re at K&E


US guy

This has happened twice to me – first when I started my TC and second when I moved firms as an NQ. In both cases I was sent a one-page letter before I joined confirming the new salary. (Similarly, when moving through the payscales or getting other salary lifts, this has always been confirmed formally with a one-page letter.)



Since you don’t understand the contract, this is a good opportunity to practice being a K&E lawyer. You’ve already done step 1, by not understanding the agreement. Now for step 2 you just need to call HR and scream at them for five minutes about how the contract obviously says you will be paid more. Step three – HR will fold and give you more money because they are desperate to keep the deal. Step four – tell all your friends how you are very important, cool, and good at negotiating.





A&O Associate

Has pay gone up for each associate pqe too does anyone know?






Slaughters plz fix



Spamming… how desperate can you get



Hogan Macs Travers all exceeded you


BCLP Assoc

You might remember me from two weeks ago. Back then I was SM Assoc


LL associate

Only trainees and spring/autumn 2021 NQs



Rank Magic Circle for their cultures:



1. CC (except the PE Team)
2. A&O (except LevFin)
3. LL
4. FBD (except Corporate)
5. S&M
6. FBD Corporate / CC PE / A&O LevFin



Would actually put FBD below Slaughters. Seems an awful place



What’s wrong with CC PE?



Why is FBD so bad?



Look at FBD’s ROF survey comments for culture in the past two years. They seem pretty accurate from when I worked there



I would say

21. A&O LevFin



Anyone at freshfields able to comment what they are doing about salary raises this year? Is NQ pay staying at 100k?



What are the PQE salaries



Senior associates on cravath NQ pay



Any movement from Freshfields?



We all wish.


Silk Street Solicitor

Great news! Now only 45 – 50k below the US firms instead of 50-60k



Any increases above NQ level?


Jealous magic circler

Is HSF going to up salaries?


Future HSF trainee

Please yes



They have. By 2k. 47 for first year trainee, 52 for second year trainee and up to 107k for NQ.


Future HSF trainee

Well that’s disappointing…


Forever Associate

In all fairness to HSF they jumped up ahead of the rest of SC/big international UK firm pay a couple years ago so now the rest are playing catch up. Base salary will still be more than 3x the average UK household income. Your take home is going to be £5k a month with an £8k lift the month the bonus kicks in (assuming you qualify for it… about 1700 chargeable hours still?). I’m at another City firm and it takes to about 5 PQE to get that.

Because of the personal allowance reductions your take home will be almost identical to the Cravath scale firms for the first 2 years. After that then yah, US shops leave the rest behind.

Your take home is going to be roughly £1,000-1,3000 more than the vast majority of the City. Assuming they do not develop a crippling drug habit or have to pay for a divorce relatively soon, HSF NQs are going to have a very comfortable life.



Whats the point of making this amount of money as an MC trainee if you will not have enough time to truly enjoy it and the bulk of your time is spent doing excruciatingly boring work.



Because they’re destined to live excruciatingly boring existences otherwise and a phat sal allows them to live in London and occasionally be pictured doing things which give the impression they are something other than fundamentally boring safe middle England.

Would a boring person rent a flat in Shoreditch? Would a boring person purchase a £5 doughnut with colourful icing on it? Would a boring person avoid dairy and eat vegan when it’s not socially inconvenient? I think not – that person cares about things but is also a bit alternative. Well behaved women don’t make history, remember.



Thats quite the colourful fantasy you’ve created. Almost distracts us from the fact that it is just that – a fantasy. People don’t go into well paying jobs to give off the impression that they are interesting, or to run away from the fact that they may be boring (whatever that even means, it is so subjective that it borders on completely banal). They mainly go into well paying jobs because… well, they are (a) well paying, (b) what all their mates are doing, (c) what they have been told is worthwhile, (d) faultless (in their eyes, as they haven’t actually experienced the realities of working environments) and (e) better than any ‘realistic’ alternatives.

Obligatory: FlourPour couldnt hack city law.


So much copium, so little time

Interesting coping mechanism there, chinless US associate. How’s the 90+ hour workweek treating you?



Apologies for the subjectivity but all those reasons seem quite boring to me. Would want to try harder than that on your applications.


Still bored

The rest of your life must have to be pretty phenomenal to justify working at Shoosmiths. What is so great about you, FlourPour?



Nothing at all. That’s why I became a lawyer.


Still bored

“Nothing at all. That’s why I became a lawyer [at Shoosmiths].”


Have firms like Baker McKenzie, NRF, Mayer Brown moved as well?


In the know

NRF raised to £85k a couple of months ago. MB static at £90k for now, but they tend to move slowly so there is some hope among the ranks for a bit more as the shape of the market becomes clearer (and the whole international MC lot going to £100k probably helps that case).



Thing is they were at 87,500 pre covid (NRF). Had seen whispers they’d raised above 90k but not sure if this has been corroborated



Slaughters should be embarrassed..



To be embarrassed , one must first possess a soul. Slaughters, by demonic design, was clearly made to extract as many Oxbridge souls as possible.



We don’t see these types of salaries in Canada. Especially not at the beginning of your career.

Hold on, let me call Justin Trudeau. I have a bone to pick with him.



Bay street firms around 120-130K aren’t they? Surely Davies, if not also Blakes, Stikeman, BJ’s and Osler.

I have friends at BigLaw in Calgary and they were on 100K as NQs with way better annual increases than what we get in the City.

Yes, all in that CAD monopoly money, but with half the cost of living as London I imagine it would be hard to complain.


Future Links trainee

I’m excited by the trainee salary rise to match the elite US firm bands.. I do wonder if this will mean an increase to the hours to that of the elite US firms. Supposedly Linklaters and other MC firms have an ‘average‘ finish time is 8.30pm, compared to 9.30-10pm for US firms..


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