Macfarlanes boosts NQ lawyer pay to £100k

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Rises for rookies too

The London office of Macfarlanes

Macfarlanes has increased the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers to £100,000, Legal Cheek can reveal.

The silver circle player confirmed base salaries had moved from £90,000 to £100,000, an uptick of 11%, with NQs eligible to receive individual and firmwide bonuses on top of the new rate. The rises take effect from 1 January 2022.

Macfarlanes also confirmed increases have taken place across all other associate salary bands.

The Legal Cheek 2022 Firms Most List shows the revised NQ salary matches that already on offer at Freshfields, Hogan Lovells and Slaughter and May, and is £5,000 above NQ pay at Mayer Brown and Norton Rose Fulbright (both £95,000).

Macs — which offers around 33 training contracts each year — has also increased trainee salaries to £50,000 in year one and £55,000 in year two. These were previously pegged at £48,000 and £52,500, respectively.

Senior partner, Sebastian Prichard Jones, commented:

“We have taken the unusual step of advancing our salary review for our legal staff which normally takes place in July to 1 January. The past 18 months have been a sustained period of high activity levels across our practices and it is right that we recognise the significant contribution made by our fee earners during that period.”

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The additional cash comes a little over a year since the firm, like many of its rivals, opted to cut junior lawyer rates by 6% from £85,000 to £80,000 in response to the pandemic. The firm reinstated salaries some six months later, before upping them to £90,000 earlier this summer.

News of the rises come just weeks after Clifford Chance increased NQ rates to £107,500, following similar moves by Allen & Overy and Linklaters.

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.


BCLP 3pqe

BCLP have increased to 95k for all you people who care so much about money.



What’s this news on a&o doing special bonuses just for lev fin associates reported in the lawyer today? Can anyone shed light on amounts?



11:36am comment from the NRF NQ pay article (8 Nov):

“It can depend – if you’re at a MC firm that offers 30% of salary bonus at 1950hrs + discretionary bonus (e.g. A&O levfin) then total NQ comp for hitting 1950hrs is c£155k. Granted total comp at Kirkland etc will be c£170k but realistically you’ll need to hit 2200hrs+ most years vs the MC you’re able to do 1750hrs without being booted out the door”


Legal recruiter

The a&o levfin bonus scheme is not news and has been in place for over a year. It effectively means an NQ would get their normal bonus plus an additional 30% bonus if they do 1950. The additional bonus increases to 45% at 3PE and is much much greater at senior associate level.


Actual A&O trainee

I’m a trainee at A&O. The special bonus has been going on informally for years but it was only turned into a formal ‘scheme’ this November (at the same time as the salary review). Only associates in the teams affected were emailed about it.

The way in which it works is that associates in the most profitable teams – which happen to have a fair number of US firms advising on the other side – are guaranteed a set bonus provided that they meet their hourly targets. This bonus is meant to more than halve the difference between the MC and US base salaries. So it would take a £107.5k base to £130k ish. I haven’t actually seen a concrete number.

This doesn’t affect your discretionary bonus which is added on top. However, one of the factors that go into deciding discretionary bonus at A&O are department and team performance, and the teams in question are generally killing it. So it’s not unreasonable to expect close to the full bonus or the full bonus if you work in those teams.

I should stress that this is *not* just a LevFin bonus. Certain teams within Corporate and ICM (capital markets) have also gotten it. LevFin just happened to be the team that employed whoever leaked this to The Lawyer, so it got publicity first. I’m sure that there will be similar leaks from other teams at A&O and other firms in the coming months.



If your law firm can’t afford to pay for your subscription to which would allow you to read that article, son, you need a recruiter.



That article doesn’t actually specify the bonus levels numpty, hence the question



Travers rumoured to be rising to 103k I heard from a friend.



Lol yes, and Keystone law will be increasing to £200k pa + 500% for hitting 2,000 hours including pro bono and non-billables I heard





Future trainee

Surely Baker McKenzie will break their radio silence sometime soon?!



It should be just a matter of time. After their financial success lately it’d be ridiculous not to raise salaries.



No. Managing partner will just say they pay enough and we should be grateful because they offer us a “culture of friendship” which is worth more than any financial remuneration…



Macs and Hogan appeal to me far more than the MC


helpful henry

…yet you don’t have and won’t have a training contract with any of them, so it’s kind of irrelevant. Megan Fox appeals to me far more than Kim Kardashian.



Overworked and underpaid MC sol spotted



Literally no reason to want to work at the MC now lol.

Elite US Firms > SC firms > MC > Shite US firms > Regional



Any news on Ashurst raising NQ?



Tired of this news now, gives us info on more important like whether work is actually dry despite marketing saying otherwise


Kirks NQ thumper

Feeling so gassy ngl

Ordered too much kimchi on Deliveroo working late, somebod ihelp mi


I'll help you

It’s going to cost a pretty penny though…



Can someone please explain to me the difference now between MC and silver circle?! Pay differential appears to have gone! Or is that the point?!



But what’s their diversity saying?



Nice move and needed considering they have highest PEP of any UK firm



Local And Central Government come and see your counterparts


Equal pay advocate

Simmons next? Their pay compared to their billables seem laughable 😂


Richard Task

Why not match or top MC if that’s the company you wish to keep. Curious to set salaries lower in some artificial act of deference when your PEP is higher.



British firms are obsessed with tradition and hierarchy just like Britain itself. “Can’t go over MC rates because we are SC and have never done that before!”



Surely only a matter of time for Freshfields?



High time the SC moved on this. Yes Macs has the highest PEP, but Travers, Ashurst, and MAYBE Simmons won’t want to sit idly by. Predicting Travers and Ashurst to at least match by end of the year.

When you’re on 100k base (not including bonuses) at a SC where you will at least be largely guaranteed your weekends/the occasional weekday evening+less psychopaths in the office it actually sounds like one of the best TCs on offer rn. And no I’m not at a sc but a pretty good international firm that matched the MC recently…



This has always been this group of firms’ offering. A generally less intense culture but still good training, progression and exit ops on top of a competitive (if slightly lower) salary.


HSF Enthusiast

So when will HSF respond? The upped their (total) comp by a measly 2k some months ago (form 105k to 107k), but base is still around 95k.



Might be hard for HSF to match the proper silver circle tbh. Last time I looked their PEP wasn’t even breaking the 1 mill mark?


Something here

Macs do have non-equity partners which may explain why their PEP is higher than pure lockstep firms



Lots of firms have non-equity partners- especially US firms. That isn’t a Macs specific thing.



No, but really what is the difference when NQ is basically the same as MC firms? Do they work less or the same as them? Like what would make a person go to MC instead of SC now?…


Just sayin

Whats the difference?


‘Magic circle’ is such an outdated moniker, but for young, impressionable grads it seems it’s the be-all end-all.

I’m not saying they’re bad firms in the slightest but what does prestige even mean really? The likes of Travers, Macs and Ashurst still advise Goldman Sachs, top corporates, and huge private equity firms (and as people have mentioned Macs in particular has a higher PEP than some MC firms…)


PEP Police

*Higher than all MC firms

Freshies: £1.9m
Links :£1.7m
A&O: £1.9M
CC: £1.8
Slaughters: no one knows as its a partnership

Macs: £2m


Ranty McRantface

We’ve been through this so many times on this site. Macs is London specific. The MC firms are – apart from Slaughters – genuinely international and have offices all over the world, mostly in markets less profitable than London.

The PEP for MC firms (other then Slaughters) is reported as a firm-wide figure and so is depressed by the other less-profitable offices. If you took London-only figures for the MC firms, it would be much higher – hence why London partners in major transactional groups typically have additional equity points compared with, for example, their colleagues in Warsaw – so some might earn £2.3m while others earn £1.5m (or an even bigger spread).

So yes, the headline PEP figures above are correct. But its crap/unhelpful analysis if used as a comparative tool, because it doesn’t tell you how much a MC London partner earns.



Global outreach obviously



Granted,Macs and Travers are more UK focused, but suggesting Ashurst doesn’t have true global outreach is just silly…


PEP Police

*Higher than all MC firms

Freshies: £1.9m
Links :£1.7m
A&O: £1.9M
CC: £1.8
Slaughters: no one knows as its a partnership

Macs: £2m



That because macs has barely any equity partners lol. Look at all these students quoting pep like some kind of bragging rights when none of them will ever get to touch equity.


🚨Fresher Police🚨

MC firms charge out their partners at much higher rates than SC firms do.

MC firms’ London offices would probably surpass Macs in PEP if they were taken on their own – they get dragged down by the wider business network and the international offices.

Macs doesn’t promote that many people to partner (and has two tiers). It’s a higher leverated firm.

Macs has a lower profit margin than any of the MC firms (high 30s vs 40-50% for the MC).

All of the MC firms are ‘partnerships’. Slaughters just happens to be a partnership under the PA 1890 whereas the others are limited liability partnerships under the LLPA 2000. There are different reporting requirements.

Every estimate of Slaughters’ PEP would have it comfortably outstrip Macs’ PEP, no matter how conservative the estimate is. The fact that it isn’t published doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist/can be ignored.

All of the above is elementary.



Not sure why your writing an essay but wanted to stick my nose in and say LLPs and partnerships are two completely different things. You can’t claim a LLP is a partnership because it’s not.

Did Macs reject you? You’re ever so impassioned


🚨Fresher Police🚨

1. It’s cute to change your name to pretend you’re a different poster.

2. I assumed that the poster was using the term ‘partnership’ colloquially, and, yes, LLPs are partnerships in the casual sense because they share many of their features. But my searches have led me to conclude that ‘partnerships’ under the 1890 Act are referred to in practice as ‘partnerships’, ‘general partnerships’, ‘traditional partnerships’, etc. I don’t think that the term ‘partnership’ is as well established as a term of art as you think it is. If you want to be that irritating, you have to point out that OP should have said ‘partnership under the so-and-so’; ‘partnership’ in itself isn’t clear enough.

3. If I got rejected by Macs but am defending the MC firms then I probably traded up? (lol)

4. It would be pretty difficult for me to have gotten rejected by Macs – most of the people who do a vac scheme there were 2.1s from Bristol/Exeter/King’s i.e. not the sharpest bunch. Very few Oxbridge. The handful that had TC offers from MC or US firms chose those over Macs without a second thought. This isn’t controversial btw, feel free to chat to their graduate recruitment team about this.

5. To follow on from point 4, Macs is probably the kind of firm that would salivate over the guy with the 52 in contract law from Bristol from the other article.



So a firm is crap if they don’t solely hire from Oxbridge? Noted loool


someone hasn’t studied the lpc…



Don’t give af about prestige, give me the firm with most mula and most peace of mind to enjoy my life


High street office block

Guess their office is in a back alley so they have less overheads.


What you on son

Less back alley, more campus to enable UHNWs to arrive and depart discretely.



That is what plumbers are getting nowadays.


Simmons 4th seat trainee

Any news on whether Simmons will raise NQ salaries? Don’t judge me for following the money.

I’m currently a 4th seater going through the qualification process and news of the salary wars has me hopeful 🤞 although Simmons doesn’t have a great track record.

They up the nq salary because it is public and screw over the first few PQEs in the process. Word has it, nq is 88 and 1pqe is 89 and 2pqe is 95 here.

Macfarlanes seems to be a better bet. Any corporate lawyers at Macfarlanes that can vouch for qualifying there?


Kushty US Associate

Those banding salaries don’t surprise me, S&S has always had people leave to US firms over the salaries….the 1k difference between nq and 1pqe though 🤣🤣

Don’t wait up, kid. Move whilst you have the chance.


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