Clifford Chance joins magic circle rivals in upping NQ lawyer pay to £107.5k

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Matches moves by A&O and Links

Clifford Chance has become the latest member of the magic circle to increase the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to £107,500.

The move sees the firm’s most junior lawyers now earn a base rate of £107,500, up 7.5% from £100,000, and matches recent uplifts by rivals Allen & Overy and Linklaters. The new rate will be effective from 2022.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows the remaining two members of the MC, Freshfields and Slaughter and May, pay NQs a base salary of £100,000.

Trainee rates at CC remain unchanged at £50,000 in year one and £55,000 in year two.

Magic circle salary standings:

Firm Trainee pay (Year 1) Trainee pay (Year 2) NQ base rates
Allen & Overy £50,000 £55,000 £107,500
Clifford Chance £50,000 £55,500 £107,500
Linklaters £50,000 £55,000 £107,500
Freshfields £50,000 £55,000 £100,000
Slaughter and May £50,000 £55,000 £100,000

Keen to find out more about life at the firm or a life in law more generally? Why not sign up to the December Legal Cheek UK Virtual Law Fair 2021. It takes place on Thursday 2 December, between 2-5pm, and features 70 law firms, including all the magic circle and leading US firms’ London offices, international firms, and national firms across the UK.


Interested party

Likelihood of CMS matching?


At this rate the UK non MC firms will be at 107k nq base salary in a few years and by then the MC firms will have raised theirs to 115-20k


Zero. CMS is a meme firm. Clifford Chance are a powerful power firm. A top, top, top firm.

CMS Fourth Seater



The way slaughters is always last to up the salaries looool they’re so reluctant


It’s very telling about the kind of firm they are lmaoo stingy gits


Another reminder that these increases are pretty pointless because PQE scales aren’t adjusted.


Yes they are. My 2PQE MC salary just had a substantial increase.


How do you know this?

Kirkland NQ

How can one reasonably be expected to subsist on this level of remuneration, that even as a gross figure, won’t even buy a basic Lambo with no optional extras?!




You know that friend that tells the same joke repeatedly over and over and it was funny the first or second time but now it’s just really cringe??


Kirkland NQ

It’s not a joke, unless you’re saying being a lawyer without owning an Italian sports car is funny? Next thing you’ll be saying that lawyers should be denied yacht ownership?!


Effective from 2022? That’s a bit cheap considering links and ao made it effective from this month.


The cabal moving in lockstep to match each other.

I guess an attempt to slowly move towards US firm levels. But doesn’t really make up much ground. Something like £200.00 extra a month. Though probably separates them from the likes of NRF, etc.

Surely the US firm will put out big increases if they feel a serious threat from the MC????


Probably not because then they’d end up paying their UK associates (who they sponsor through law school) more than their US associates (many of whom have $150k+ of student debt and who in NYC at least have a materially higher cost of living), which politically is a bit difficult to justify.

They’ll focus on the softer things, like trying to be nice. I’m at a US firm and it always amazes me how whipped MC associates seem to feel compared to the environment I’m used to working in.

4th seater

Which firm out of interest?


Macs Travers and Ashurst will all go to £100k base surely.

Salty soon to be NQ at one of the above firms

Firms in this category (including Simmons & Simmons) will definitely have to make a move on – especially after Stephenson Harwood upped to £90k and NRF as well of course


Unlikely – probably more 95k


Come on FBD, time to show them who’s the one with the real magic.


Assuming they (and SM) are just waiting for others to make their move so they can see how little they can increase without looking tight.


Feels like in a few years, with respect to pay, there will be very little to differentiate these firms.


Kirkland NQ

haha no work life balance


when will S&M and Freshfields match?
CC upped their trainee pay to 50/55k and FBD followed suit.
Any indication or noise / news regarding this?

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