News

Bakers joins City salary war with £105k rate for NQs

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Extra cash for trainees too

Baker McKenzie has become the latest law firm to up the salaries of its most junior lawyers, with a new and improved base rate of £105,000.

The move, which takes effect from March 2022, equates to an extra £15,000 or 17%. NQs currently receive a base salary of £90,000.

Trainees will also see their salaries increase, with year one pay moving from £48,000 to £50,000 and year two from £52,000 to £55,000.

The extra cash means NQs at Bakers will soon earn the same as their equivalents at Herbert Smith Freehills and will be £5k better off than those at Freshfields and Slaughter and May.

At the same time, Bakers said it had taken the “unprecedented decision” to bring forward its salary review for fee earners from July to March.

All associates, including NQs, are eligible to receive a discretionary bonus on top of their base rates.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Ed Poulton, Bakers London managing partner, commented:

“As a firm, we remain committed to the attraction and retention of the very best talent. Aside from competitive remuneration, we are proud of the opportunities and inclusive culture Baker McKenzie can offer which includes enhanced wellbeing, a dedication to inclusion and diversity and brilliant career opportunities, all of which makes our firm an attractive place to work. We want people to be able to develop and achieve their full potential here.”

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows Bakers provides around 33 training contracts each year.

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68 Comments

Baker Junior

The disparity in pay between UK and Germany, and the rest of EMEA, remains truly staggering.

(27)(1)

EU warrior

Well UK (London) follows suit after America, these are the 2 major global corporate cities. Then you have the Swiss which are in their own game. Ireland then follows suit and then the rest of europe (Germany, France, Brussels )

(4)(1)

Wolfgang

Interestingly MC NQ salaries in Germany are currently higher than in the UK

(2)(0)

Bombay Bad Boy

This isn’t so much joining the war as it is raising the white flag.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

I disagree, Reginald.

(0)(1)

Law Firm Salary Enthusiast

Reported earlier by The Lawyer today, but thanks anyways Legal Cheek for not keeping this information behind a paywall.

I imagine this article will get a lot of hits.

(36)(0)

Not me

Published about 5 mins after LC. Weird to paywall it though,

(17)(2)

Worried incoming NQ

Will the likes of Watson Farley, Gowlings, etc. ever move beyond 75k?

Seems like we’ve been stuck with this pathetic pay packet for years now. I mean c’mon first a 15k difference, and now 30k with the likes of Bakers??!!??!

(21)(13)

PoultonFanGirl123

Poulton for PM.

(2)(0)

Kirkland NQ

Should’ve worked harder bruh.

(13)(35)

Worried incoming NQ

A K&E NQ commenting on a Legal Cheek article at 3:30 in the afternoon?

By the likes of that you don’t seem to be working at all at your Squid Games firm.

Yes – I called it that – K&E is quite literally a Squid Games firm where the attrition is so damn high, and people getting booted out every year (or leaving by choice) is built into the business model.

Now, I must imagine you have to get back to your multi-billion $ LBO for some PE fund named after a tree or rock or star sign. And yes, I’ll get back to my measly couple million $ AIM listing.

Bye bye!

(65)(5)

Anon

Not sure this is quite true…just comes down to whether you do the “relevant” practice areas / happy to work a bit harder but not materially harder for practical purposes….

(3)(8)

Sigh

Don’t complain then. You’ll probably have a better quality of life/work/life balance with 75k compared to K&E while still earning a good salary. If you want to move, then move…

(8)(8)

Bronze Circle Enjoyer

Don’t get the downvotes, they’re not wrong. Gowlings should be aligned with Eversheds etc. not sitting a couple of grand above Irwin Mitchell and Shoosmiths.

(9)(4)

I’ll have a Kit Kat please

They’re actually the same as Shoosmiths.

Shoosmiths pays 75k a year now.

anon

Both Irwin Mitchell and Shoosmits have higher PEP than Gowling (according to LC), and Shoosmiths pays more in Birmingham than Gowling

Anonymous

Watson Farley is now £85k according to The Lawyer

(8)(6)

yesplease

Gowlings is 85 now

(2)(3)

DINGUS

What is Slaughters doing…

(30)(0)

MINGUS

Slaughtering

(9)(0)

disgrunted

Freshfields?
Slaughters?
HELLO?

(43)(1)

Law Firm Salary Enthusiast

Their “magic” seems to have run out 🤣

(46)(0)

FF Trainee

Time to look beyond NQ pay… FF 1-year PQE pay ramps up to 130K + bonus, which is way more than 1y PQE pay of comps (such as other MC firms).

(13)(12)

Anon

Proof?

Don’t say the RoF article.

(10)(3)

Yep

I work there and this is true, it’s an automatic promotion after 1 year to the £130k milestone. The £140k milestone can be achieved after 18 months. Both base rate.

(6)(3)

curious

assuming this is true, and of course just checking,

how does this compare to the +1 and +2 (etc…) rates at the other MCs?

What would CC, Links, A&O and Slaughters offer their +1 year / +2 year lawyers base, if they start at 107.5k~ at NQ?

From what you are saying, it appears Freshfields would pretty much be paying nearish US firm rates for their junior lawyers, way above what the other MCs would?

Rumour has it

Friend at Freshfields says they aren’t raising NQ because they’ve increased salaries further down the line – 130k automatically after 1 year, 140k after 18months/2years ish

(10)(1)

Ashurst’s disgruntled Mother

Ashurst what are you doing !?!!

(22)(0)

d

Ashurst can suck an egg, along with their squid online games.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

SOMEONE took rejection badly… Keep Practising Tetris and try again next year

(21)(2)

H

Nah, rather spend time on law firms that don’t use 80s style games as an indication of lawyerly abilities..good luck though👍

(12)(2)

Anon

Ashurst and Travers really falling behind…

(19)(1)

Oliver Twist

I know 90k…what a disaster eh. Please sir, can I have some more 🥺

(18)(3)

lol

looooool “squid games” firm. It’s funny cos its true

(17)(4)

Yeaaaah baby

Yessssssssssss, bakers baby! We are back in business

(5)(8)

Anonymous

Is the Baker & Mckenzie app process easy?

(0)(16)

Bakerbot

No. Good luck though!

Side note: where are all the students crying about the Bakerbots/McDonald’s of law firms? Must be tough getting rejected from TCs year after year. I’m sure you’ll have more luck after the next LC career fair though!

(8)(8)

Bombay Bad Boy

Easier for people who get the firm’s name right.

(16)(0)

TC at Not Bakers

Lol their app questions are such bs haha – 100% waffle required

(0)(2)

truth

105k? Yes. I’ll take that.

(11)(6)

whooooop

Yessss Bakers, back in business baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(6)(15)

Mumma xoxo

Shhhh my son, calm down back to your textbooks ok? You’ll wake the whole house up.

(13)(1)

anon

Every LegalCheek comment section is the same.
“haha you work at x firm that pays £85k”
vs
“haha you work at y firm that pays £145k but you have no life LOL”

When you put it into context, they’re both very good salaries and, in comparison to most careers, these lawyers are overpaid.

Just be happy for people. It’s nice that salaries are increasing across the board. It doesn’t have to be a competition.
The people who actually work at these firms don’t say this. I’ve never met anyone at a high-paying US firms who sneers at other people earning less than them. I’ve never met anyone at another firm who bangs on about how hard people at US firms work, either. They just don’t care.
On here it’s all anyone talks about and both sides are as inane as each other.

(62)(0)

Probably smarter than you

The real strategy is to work at a firm in a low tax paying jurisdiction that also offers you a life. I earn more than someone working at an equivalent PQE to me at K&E (at least for now), live somewhere that’s cheaper than London, and have to bill a minimum of 1,300 hours a year, which includes BD and pro bono hours. I’m smart.

(6)(4)

Curious boi

Which offshore jurisdiction is this?

(2)(0)

anon

Singapore

(3)(1)

Starving and soon-to-be-homeless 3rd seat trainee

Are Simmons & Simmons the stingiest firm in the city? They need to get a move on!!!!

(12)(0)

A bit of reality perhaps?

Lmao your firm pays £88k for a wet behind the ear NQ with milk dripping down their chin.

Pull your head in mate, that’s insane money.

(23)(0)

Unhappy 1PQE

@A bit of reality perhaps?, 10:28am

When NQs are recording north of 1900 and the firm doesn’t even attempt to compete with the market, it’s a bit shitty. It’s always “We’re friendly and nicer than other firms” but if Bakers who probably started that strategy are waving the white flag, maybe its time for the likes of Simmons and Ashurst to do the same or risk losing talent. You’re right in that it’s insane money but it’s BigLaw – most times talent goes where the money goes.

(8)(0)

I conkur

Exactly this @Unhappy 1PQE.

Being ‘friendly’ may have genuinely been something that kept people sticking around pre pandemic. But when most people now only meet through a screen, and are possibly stuck at home in their parent’s spare room, ‘culture’ just doesn’t really mean much anymore.

All anyone can think of is moving out/setting themselves up for an early retirement/big trip which requires a lot of money-its that simple. Even ‘prestige’ from the MaGic CirCLe isn’t gonna keep a Slaughter’s NQ around if they know they can easily be picked up by Latham (which is their lateral firm of choice according to The Lawyer)…

(8)(0)

kiss

Imagine working at a second-rate firm like Bakers and HSF. You don’t get meaningfully better hours than the MC, the culture is still as bad on average, you get slightly lower pay (and pay progression), you miss out on most of the leading mandates (and get overly excited about the one or two that do come your way), and you don’t even have any prestige or bragging rights to console yourself.

(1)(12)

Slaughtered. Dismayed.

Slaughters found shaking, dishevelled and emaciated. Someone call her an ambulance!

(27)(0)

Starving

Any news on CMS increases??

(1)(1)

anon

95k

(5)(1)

Anon

10% increase across board and 5% firmwide bonus

(2)(5)

Cms trainee

Increased associate salaries by 15% so NQ around £95k now. Plus bonus amount now increased to 40%

(13)(1)

Anon

I’m a first seater at a US firm in London. I’ve met and continue to meet a lot of other lawyers, LPC students, people interested in changing to law, etc.
Whenever people ask me where I work, I say ‘this firm, how about you?’. They then ignore me, and politely inform me how I must work until 1am every night (I don’t), how much I earn post tax (even though I’m not an NQ) and how this translates to earning less than a McDonalds worker (it’s always a McDonalds worker). Often they don’t even respond to my question about where they work.
My point is – the comments on here depressingly reflect real life. I don’t boast about where I work, I’m not particularly proud about where I work. It’s practically the same as any other firm, they all do commercial law, how exciting!

It’s all a bit weird. I don’t judge anyone based on where they work. Does anyone else associated with a US firm have this happen to them all the time?

(24)(6)

Justmythoughts

Hmm you must be somewhat proud of where you work otherwise you wouldn’t have applied and accepted the offer?

And of course other people’s reactions say more about them than you but, from my experiences, trainees like yourself are naturally highly likely to display some inherent smugness (even subconsciously) when you know you’re on track to earning more than double compared to someone at a firm like Simmons, and possibly 4/5x the amount of the average UK salary (31K). And why wouldn’t you?- the majority of UK uni grads will probably never earn more than 50/60k a year.

I know people don’t like to believe they’re a**holes but lets be real most people are very similar in the ego drive world of biglaw and want to be ‘better’ than others- this narcissistic social media society also adds to this…

(10)(2)

anon

No worries. I’m sure there are some very smug people working at firms like this.
But I have tons of friends at UK firms of all sizes and in separate careers entirely. I hang out with them often and did so before starting work on the LPC. I spent more time with them than people from my own firm, and I think this is true for most lawyers who have done the LPC nowadays. And on applying to the firm – I applied to so many it’s not really a reflection on what I think about the firm. I applied to far more UK firms than US firms, I just had more luck with this US firm. 90% of getting a TC is luck in my experience.

The point I am making is it’s now acceptable to be rude about someone if they work at a high intensity, high-paying firm, but the reverse is not true. Imagine if someone told me they worked at a firm paying south of 70k at NQ and I started making rude comments about how much they earn – utterly unacceptable. But belittling someone working in a corporate department at a US firm, working long hours for more pay – perfectly fine. It’s still very rude. And it does happen a lot.

(10)(3)

An honourable man

I’ve found the opposite.

It’s really only on LC, RoF and other online legal forums where people cares about salary and try to diminish those who earn more/less than other firms.

In reality I’ve found no one actually cares.

If you’re that unhappy with your salary move. Otherwise you’re just whining like a child.

(9)(3)

Anon

I’m also a first seater at a US firm in London (hint, it’s the best one – begins with a Kirk and ends with land). I’ve met and continue to meet a lot of other so called ‘lawyers’ (can you even be called a lawyer if you don’t make 6 figures at 25? Idk?), LPC plebs, people interested in changing to law, etc.
Whenever people ask me where I work, I assertively say, with my chest puffed out brimming with shear pride ‘Kirkland & Ellis LLP, how about you peasant?’. They then ignore me for some reason, probably nervous and intimidated by my status and monetary income, and submissively inform me how I must work until 1am every night (I do), how much I earn post tax (more than their salary pre-tax) and how this translates to earning less than a McDonalds worker (lmfao original much). Often they don’t even respond to my question about where they work, because by then I’ve paid them £12 to get me my daily flat white with caramel.
My point is – the comments on here optimisticly reflect real life. I of course boast about where I work because not only am I proud about where I work, I get a small dosage of sexual satisfaction from telling others. Admittedly, it’s practically the same as any other firm, they all do commercial law, except mine pays more than others, is better in every way, and makes me superior as a human being.

It’s all a bit weird. I don’t judge anyone based on where they work, at least that is what I tell them. Does anyone else associated with a US firm have this happen to them all the time?

(41)(1)

anon

fair play I am amused

(13)(1)

Anon

Kirkland & Ellis is by far NOT the best, it is absolutely rubbish and has the lowest skilled monkeys in town. They’d like people to believe they’re “partners” when in reality they are no where close to that. Making “partnership” at Kirkland is a sign that you were unable to get it anywhere else.

(8)(8)

Anon

I think you took a joke comment a bit too serious mate. And tbh, even if Kirkland non-equity partners are not ‘real partners’, you still get the prestige and a phat salary bump to 450k + phat bonus. Not the worst deal in the world, especially considering other US 6PQEs will be on around 380k at that time, and UK MC associates will be on circa. 200k.

(3)(0)

NRF Trainee

Jeez NRF raised like last month and already out of date and behind the curve a bit – bit like Ashurt from earlier in the year

Especially if CMS have moved to 95k base like some comments have said

(0)(1)

Hhh

Legal cheek is a funny place, maybe y’all should switch careers to standup.

(5)(0)

👋

Can someone explain to me why anyone would choose to work for HSF or Bakers instead of an MC firm? Second rate in every respect and you don’t even get meaningfully better hours than MC in most of the teams.

(8)(16)

Andrew Bailey

You won’t really care what you’re earning when inflation gets us all and you’ll be paying £200k for a loaf of bread. Good luck!

(11)(1)

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