Linklaters boosts NQ lawyer pay twice in three months — now £107.5k

By on

Bonus on top

Linklaters has upped newly qualified (NQ) lawyer pay for the second time in just three month months, with base rates now sitting at £107,500.

The move equates to an extra £7,500, or 7.5%, with salaries previously at £100,000. It’s worth noting that NQs are eligible to receive a performance related bonus on top of this new six-figure rate. The change is effective 1 November.

This is the second time in three months NQ salaries have been increased. In July, as reported by Legal Cheek, Links upped pay packets from £92,500 to £100,000 following similar moves by Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy.

Secure your place: The 5 October 2021 UK Virtual Law Fair

The revised rate sees Links put distance between itself and the rest of the magic circle in terms of junior lawyer pay, with Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Slaughter and May providing a salary of £100k plus performance related bonus.

The Legal Cheek 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.

Secure your place: The 5 October 2021 UK Virtual Law Fair


Game on



Freshfields has raised 1pq to 130k (see ROF). Will be very interesting to see the new headline NQ figure (probably at least 115k)


NQ salary has not increased.


There is no way they can justify a 30k pay gap between 1 year as a junior. It will have to go up , question is just how much

Old Guy

Why not? Seriously what is going to happen?

FF assoc

Quit lying pinhead

Reality Check: it’s a 7k increase excl bonus

The funny thing is this pay increase after tax, NI, pension contributions, student loan repayment plan 2 is £ 54,807.20 (from 92k) to £ 62,186.06 (at 107k).

It’s roughly a 7k increase.

This is a nice bit of extra disposable income but it is questionable whether it is worth the extra hours, less work life balance etc.

The difference in expectations and culture and work life at a firm with a 70-80k salary to a MC firm is significant but after tax there isn’t much to show for that difference in salaries even with the increase to 107k.

If you are going to compromise on certain things in your life such as completely lack of autonomy on your working hours… at least work for a firm that in the long run is worth the pay off.

And it seems that US firms are the only ones willing to pay appropriately.


This is just it.

I don’t think people who haven’t worked at the firms understand how much of a difference in expectations and availability and your personal and working life comes into the equation with the different salary bands.

At around 70k I had quite a nice work-play ratio in my life and was quite happy.

At around 120k it meant I was getting roughly 20k more from my precious salary after tax.
But I did not find the trade off to be worth it.

I think these firms have realised that people are not stupid and they will jump like Jack if the right offer is in front of them.

107k is laughable quite frankly for what they expect from you. At least US firms have the balls to admit what you will be compromising in exchange for X salary.


Why is a 20k increase not worth the trade off? Genuinely curious??

If you maintain your same lifestyle and means of living you can essentially pocket 20k into savings???


I think it just depends on everyone individually and what they value.

Some people don’t care about work life balance and want those kind of hours and busybody working lifestyle during their 20s and 30s


Nobody wants those sort of hours lol


I dont understand why LC posters have such tunnel view short term opinions on salaries. Both 100k at CC and 150k at Kirkland are – objectively – not really worth it for the hours youre putting in. But the reason you’d want to “give up” a few years of your life is to get these firms on your CV, make connections, get excellent training, see what life is like at the top of the legal sector, and then eventually – with 2 or 3 years under your belt after qualification – jump ship and life an upper middle class lifestyle for the rest of your life. You should have a decent amount saved up which you can invest and a cushy WLB job. Congrats – you have basically rollercoastered and speed run class mobility something poor Gary the baker or Clive the butcher who will spend their whole lives working 9-5 jobs will fail to do in 40 years.

Jog on

Looool you think whatever salary is leftover from 3PQE makes someone upper middle class?!???

You are deluded and have no idea how the class system works or even how money works.

Awooga horn



The same point applies to US salaries. The net increase on your formula between this and a cravath NQ is “only” £12k. If you are getting better hours this isn’t a bad deal, if you’re not, the door is always open to move.


Can we just stop posting this on every article about salary increases? It’s getting more boring than the Kirkland NQ posts.
It applies to every high-paying career – if you work at an investment bank, be prepared to have a huge chunk of your money taxed. That’s the nature of a high salary. Does that mean high-paying careers should be avoided? Are you actually happy with that logic?

The difference is this:
If you choose to work at a firm paying 80k to an NQ, by 6PQE+ you will be floating around the US NQ rate. You too will be being heavily taxed, just later on in your career – when you’re in your mid 30s.

Someone who starts on 140k will be on at least 250k by that point.


The point was aimed directly at someone claiming these raises are essentially worthless because of the tax. The same point applies to US salaries, hence worth flagging.


Well done for spam liking your own comment lol.

It was on 3 likes then spiked up on a refresh.

Get a grip

PQE matters more!!!

If we’re being honest I think the main issue is PQE.

Everybody can google and quickly find first year NQ salary and PPE but the root issue is the lack of transparency in PQE salary bands.

We need a side by side comparison of city firms 2,3,4,5+PQE etc.

Some firms will boast a high NQ but PQE progression over the years will show not much prospect of increase in the long run unless you make partner.

These things are more important in my opinion.


Yep, there is the same bunching of salary bands at LL (as at other UK firms I suspect) even after this raise such that a 5.5PQE Associate is still basically making the same as a US firm NQ. Put another way, you basically have to make partnership or get put into a counsel type role at a MC firm in order to earn more than a US junior associate…

If you are a transactional lawyer, you should go to a US firm. The hours are the same, the work is better and the training/prestige that the MC bleat on about is just not true.

If you are a lawyer in a team like IP, Pensions or Real Estate, you should go to a MC firm and abuse the full service model that allows you to get paid the same amount as a transactional lawyer doing 1500 hours.


THIS… Can we have a co-ordinated effort to tip off legal cheek on 1) Firm; 2) PQE; and 3) salary. There is some funny business going on after NQ.


I currently pay £12k on rent a year; an extra £7k post-tax would allow me to have a significantly nicer and/or more central flat whilst still saving £40k a year for a mortgage. I don’t understand how some associates can be so ungrateful. We’re literally being paid lifechanging sums to push paper around, and I still have most of my weekends free to do whatever I want, plus various evenings and holidays. My girlfriend is a nurse in a London hospital and gets paid about a quarter of what I do, and spends forty hours a week on her feet dealing with the sick and dying; I know which one of us has the worse deal.


You don’t really have a gf do you.

Mr Gammon Moto

Is that the clucking of chickens that I hear feeding?

💰 💵


Where you at Addleshaw??!




I considered a lateral NQ role at Addleshaw this year – £82K, which is about a 20% uplift from what I am currently at, with the same billable targets. It appeared to be a sweet deal. Then I remembered they culled an entire real estate team during Covid, including fee earners and floor support, without any hesitation in order to protect partner drawings. Typical BigLaw culture.

The second there’s a blip, they will bin you. That likelihood will only increase as NQ’s/junior associates become more expensive.


“The revised rate sees Links put distance between itself and the rest of the magic circle in terms of junior lawyer pay, with Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Slaughter and May providing a salary of £100k plus performance related bonus.”

How is this accurate?

LL appear to be paying £107.5k inclusive of discretionary bonus.

A&O, CC and FBD appear to be paying £100k plus discretionary bonus.

Smoke and mirrors – in reality they are all paying the same?


No it seems to be 107.5k excluding bonus


Learn to read, Bob


What’s the PQE rates

Let the pay wars begin

May the odds be ever in the highest paying Magic Circle firm’s favor

Taking bets

Freshfields and Clifford Chance 110k?


A&O and Slaughters to at least match?


This is a phat move from Links.

Granted, the salary gap between a shop like Gimpland & Ellis and them is still hefty, but many will prefer to work at a UK native over a US boiler room, and this will help them attract top talent no doubt.

GB News is hiring

“Prefer to work at a UK native”? Are you Nigel Garage?


Yes, the copium is strong with this one.


It’s just a turn of phrase my son, you’ll learn.




More about retaining top talent. Magic circle firms already attract it because they offer much better training but then have their associates leave and have to recruit laterally from worse firms.


How do the Magic Circle attract the top talent? On a pure numbers game, they offer the most TC spots in the City so it really is not that competitive. And then because of the way recruiting is done, most TC spots are handed out to 19-20 year old students in the second year of a degree after a 2 week vac scheme where you do nothing substantive and basically get an offer if you act like a normal person – not exactly the best way to determine they are in fact the top talent.


Give 100 students across the country TCs from Links and Kirks – guarantee the majority will pick Kirkland.

Bantonio Banteras

Thx fresher, cool insight

Tax Hike presented by Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson and Dishi Rishi

Warm welcome to the 63.25% marginal tax band!

Kirks Thumper

Shameful isn’t it. Off to a tax haven I go…


The talented without capital must fund the Brexit voting mediocre to protect the capital of the classes that send their loved ones to Eton.

Welcome to the party

Looks like they are finally get a hang of this game.


FBD 1PQE @130k following move (see ROF)


Nothing on ROF?


There is in the Slaughters article tucked away

CC trainer

Any news on FBD NQ salary? As the first of the MC to reach six figures in 2019 surely they have to respond?

Meanwhile what is up with A&O? Broke ass – still not reaching 50k for trainee pay – when even stingey Slaughters touched that base. That too with the tired offices in Bishopsgate. FBD has the best office out of all the MC now – used to be CC imo but not anymore.

Fresher Watch Ltd.

Thx for the comment fresher.

Go easy on the booze this weekend and make sure to do some light reading ahead of your Introduction to Contract Law on Monday. xoxo


A&O are in Spitalfields Market, not on Bishopsgate. You’d know this if you were a Fresher at Durham.


A&O are in 1 Bishops’s Square – Bishopsgate. Yes, it is just next door to Spitalfields / Bricklane.

Beast of Bishopsgate

Bishopsgate carries an EC postcode. A&O in the dungeons of Spitalfields are E1 – not even in the ‘city’ per say. You’ll have the opportunity to confirm this when you get a space on their open day on your 3rd attempt.

Citation needed

No one is saying anything on ROF. Link please


Read the fifth para

How are some of you lawyers and can’t even read an article properly?

Keep your filthy money

Hm, that sounds good but I’m glad I work in public sector law with priceless perks such as *checks notes* flex time which I can never actually use.

CC trainee

Surely FBD and CC to follow suit? Linklaters recruit the highest numbers out of the MC, followed by CC and AO, with FBD and S&M from what I know recruiting the same smaller numbers. Linklaters is also moving, soon, to the more jazzy skycrapery office at Ropemakers St in 2022. Big power move. Any gossip on this point?


They are moving in 2025 and renting the bottom floors of a fairly low rise office – not quite the skyscrapers of Liverpool Street


Is the move definitely in 2022?


No, and never has been. Just some Fresher bs above

CC trainee

2026 is when they move will happen. Stand corrected.

Fair enough that’s ages away; but still a strong message nonetheless for Links.

Wonder how FF and CC respond.

I doubt Slaughter and May will respond with parity and neither will A&O. I find that Freshfields and CC really are about that , and so will reply forth.

Thump gun

Lmao p*ss off fresher


The tier below MC are upping salaries too. Ashurst is going to £100k base I heard.


Then why are Ashurst going to 100 if it’s the tier below… 😂


UK law firms are very hierarchy obsessed. Ashurst are fine being seen as paying slightly less than the MC and would only be going to £100k if they knew Links and the rest of the MC will raise again. Expect at least 1 more MC firms to raise NQ pay again.


The question nobody is asking is what happens when deal activity inevitably slows and the pay war comes to an unglamorous end.

We saw, at the beginning of COVID, many firms applying the brakes (with a good few cutting pay). The GFC is also a fairly recent example of the actions firms will take (rightly or wrongly) during a crisis.

Choose a firm not based on their pay today, but on the work they do and their culture. Where do you actually want to work? The salary war will continue until it doesn’t, and then you’ll be thankful you still have a job.


We saw what happened – firms like Linklaters were straight to cut salaries and put in freezes. Meanwhile the US firms kept pay the same and paid out special bonuses – for the inevitable comment that mentions stealth layoffs at US firms in London – name a single one that did. It just didn’t happen.

fbd fan

So, agreed that FBD 1 pqe is 130 K, but will there be anything for NQs? Or will it’s NQs earn less than links ?


Think it’s NQs are just going to remain underpaid with no bonuses lol – Freshfields for u

Rank the MCs in terms of their personas

– original blue bloods, old school, preppy but Freshfields being more international

– strength in depth, shares elements from all , slightly newer than the above two.

CC – Flashy, ‘woke’ , nouveau but no heritage or blue blood. Most international.

A&O – Banking giant. Similar history to Linklaters.

Top Grump

Who cares? They’re companies you can work for, not top trumps.


Linklaters is literally 56 years older than Slaughters.

And A&O doesn’t really have a similar history to Linklaters. It was founded 97 years later. And it was Slaughters who along with Linklaters who were the big beasts of company law from the 1970s.


‘From the 1970s’


Slaughters was supposedly founded by a couple of Ashurst articling lawyers who were not retained and decided to go it alone…


*Ahooga* Fresher spotted!

Mc associate

This is a decent raise. At least the pay difference between MC and US firms are no longer as obscene as before. I hope my MC firm follow suit, no internal announcements on pay raise so far.


Lol still basically 40k base difference at the NQ level, increasing even more year after year before bonuses are even taken into account. Note also how all these MC/UK firm bonuses are always expressed as discretionary and performance based with no actual tangible criteria so they can chip you if you haven’t done BD or PSL rubbish whereas at the US you will get a bonus if you’re still employed.

The lockstep associate scale at LL caps at around 150-160k. The equivalent at a US is on 260k+.

Sneed and Feed

smh cheap US firms still not raising trainee pay

Join the conversation

Related Stories