Slaughters joins magic circle rivals in raising NQ lawyer pay to £100k

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Bonus on top

Slaughter and May today announced it has raised the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) solicitors to £100k, following similar moves made by its magic circle rivals.

The firm’s new associates now earn £100,000, plus a discretionary bonus, up from a previous salary of £90,500.

Slaughters last nudged NQ lawyer pay in February of this year from £87,000 to £90,500.

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The money move matches those recently made by Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance — though A&O’s six-figure sum includes a sign-on bonus. Taking an early lead, Freshfields boosted junior lawyer pay to £100k in the summer of 2019.

Beyond NQs, a Slaughters spokesperson said all other associates at the firm will receive raises.

A number of elite UK-headquartered firms have upped their cash offerings in recent weeks, including Travers Smith, Osborne Clarke and Hogan Lovells, which also joined the six-figure salary club by upping base pay to £100k.

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This is no surprise. Shame it took this long.

Double shame that a firm with such a history felt it only needed to play catch-up rather than lead the pack.



I know what you are trying to say but as you can see with Ashurt their is also a risk of going early and then being passed by rival firms and caught up by Firms in the rung below (BCLP etc)

In some ways, quite smart from S and M to read the market and wait and see where everything settles – at the end of the day – the pay increase came into effect at the same time as everyone else (July 1)


Original Anon

I take your view, and it is a good point. However that still implies reactive thinking rather than wanting to be a market leader.

I guess my initial opinion was that seeing how they’re supposed to be the ultimate “prestige” name in the MC (as was the historical view in say the pre-2000s), they should have beat FBD to 100k when FBD raised it in summer 2019. That would allow them to do an essentially meaningless raise now, say to 105k, (post tax would amount to what, an extra £150-200 a month?) but still look better than the rest of the MC. It’s a standard move played in other significant legal markets: WLRK pays about $5k above the Cravath scale in NYC, Davies in Toronto pays about $10k more than other top tier locals, and that’s always been the way.

But that’s just my opinion, and I’ve only been in practice a few years so what do I know about managing a £500-600m a year practice.



Don’t forget too that WLRK bonuses are regularly 100% of base pay.



Not everyone is increasing July 1 , some have said from Sep 1


MC Trainee

tbf Slaughters has always been stingy with associate pay – almost always the last to raise it to the other level over the last five years


Desperate FF Trainee

Still no news from Freshfields


Well-paid FBD Associate

You are paid what you are worth. FBD has an army of qualifying trainees a year: the idea that trainees are anything other than expendable is laughable.



Think of how ‘well-paid’ you would be @ a US firm for doing essentially the same hours



The news was back in 2019 when FF already raised to 100k. They are not going to raise again. None of these other MC increases are proper raises – they are bringing in line with 2019 FF base and since they cut pay during COVID – not even a raise at that



CC gave proper raises at 1PQE + this year. 25% for me.



So you’re on 120 odd k? That’s pretty healthy!



Is that base excluding bonus?

Future FBD Trainee

When is Fresh “we are in the same league as US firms” Fields increasing their salary to £110k or £120k?


SM Assoc

If you’re doing advisory this is the gold standard. Bonuses assured every year independent of billables – last year was 13% at 1PQE and I had tax / pension mates pulling that for 1100

Corporate / financing, different story



I hear associate level (NOT NQ) is £129k as just confirmed by their HR department.



Whatever is advisory at a law firm?



1100 is like half a year’s work 🙁



Genuine question: what other advisory departments are there along with tax/pensions/financial services regulation?



Depending on the department, IP and employment teams might also have significant advisory elements, but like in many tax and pensions departments that work in most firms is likely to have a fair amount of corporate support work too. Employment will probably also have a decent proportion of disputes work, while IP/tech teams often have their own transactional workstreams for software development agreements, outsourcing contracts and licensing deals (whether for software, media, trademarks, etc.).


SM Trainee

What on earth are you talking about? You make it sound like Tax/Pensions are getting an easy ride.

Nobody in Tax or Pensions is pulling 1100… Have you seen the sheer number of Pensions associates that have left over the course of 2020? That department is decimated and will remain severely understaffed until the September 2021 intake of six (yes, six) NQs join.

Even with Tax, you clearly have no clue how the department works seeing as most of the Tax associates are slaving away doing corporate support work. They’re pulling marginally less hours than corporate.

Let’s not mention the sheer beasting going on in FR or IP/IT right now. Get your facts straight.



People on this site always peddle this narrative that advisory departments work 9-5 and earn the same amount of money as those in transactional seats pulling frequent all-nighters. As you’ve said, people in advisory departments can work very, very hard, and in my experience at least, the work is far more mentally draining.



I used to work in an advisory department and moved into a more transactional role over time. I bill more hours than I used to but in general they’re at more predictable times. Even a 25 hour week can be unpleasant when it comprises of lots of days sat around doing nothing and then being called in to assist corporate at 8pm.


Ex-SM Now BCLP Assoc

@OP, the assured socialist bonus is the one thing they have going for them.

We were all a bit annoyed that they froze pay for 12 months without backpay though…


Anon at SM

Especially after it became apparent pretty early on in lockdown that SM was gonna have a super bumper year


Magic square

Interesting to see if any moves now from NRF, Mayer Brown, and others to join the 100k club. If Hogan Lovells can do it so can everyone else


Magic Hexagon

I may be wrong, but not sure NRF, MB, and others have released their yearly results yet – hopefully when they do they’ll make an announcement on pay increases – NRF was at 85 when HL was at 90 so realistically something like 95k would be a proportionate increase


Mundane Rhombus

At least one of those two firms has announced an increase internally, but not gone to 100.


Pls spill the tea

Do you manage sharing which one has increased and to what amount?



Please reveal…


Magic Parallelogram




Surely there needs to be transparency around associate bands now at these firms. Have heard some are offering 1PQE and 2PQE 105k and 110k respectively which are paltry increases considering the additional tax liability.



Only way to achieve this is for people to provide their data so pay grids become publicly available like with the US



So A&O now pays the least (90 base at NQ and 92 base at 1 PQE).

Sounds reasonable…


Not A&O Banking NQ

*Inserts the classic ‘but we do great quality Islamic Finance and ESG work’*




Anon at SM

Problem is that the generosity seemingly ends at the NQ level. As a mid PQE who now earns barely anything more than an NQ after tax (and in fact earns less than those at my PQE in HSF / HL!), it’s a bit disappointing, especially after being frozen at a lower payscale for nearly a year despite business booming.


Salary bunch

Have a read of the MC v US associate article that went up a few days ago – looks at this in a bit more depth



£106k for 1 PQE – more bunching than before


Frustrated Associate

LegalCheek – please do an article on associate pay at all bands. The constant NQ articles are unnecessary – anyone can see this info on law firm websites. It would be far more worthy journalistic endeavour to expose MC firms for how little they pay senior associates vis-a-vis US firms and the internal salary bunching.

Providing transparency re salary bunching would be some decent legal journalism for you. The real problem with NQ pay rises, as has been mentioned here, is salary bunching. Pay rises not being reflected across the board.

The MCs allure would fade if people saw that MC senior associates earn less than US firm NQs.

Kirkland and various other US firms report base pay at all associate levels. It’s time UK firms became more transparent.

Thank you.



Goodwin now £145,750 at NQ. Still not appearing on LC’s Most List


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