CMS and Simmons boost NQ lawyer salaries

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£95k and £100k

CMS and Simmons & Simmons have joined a raft of City law firms in boosting the salaries of their newly qualified (NQ) solicitors in London.

Legal Cheek can reveal CMS has increased base pay from £82,000 to £95,000, which equates to an extra £13,000 or 16%.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows NQs are now on the same levels of cash as their counterparts at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Mayer Brown and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The rise comes some six months after the firm boosted London NQ rates from £75,000 to £82,000.

Salaries in the firm’s regional offices are also up. Base rates in Bristol now sit at £61,000 (previously £50,500), while Manchester and Sheffield pay has moved to £51,750 (previously £42,500). Glasgow and Edinburgh NQs will now earn £51,750 too (previously £41,500). This marks increases of 21%, 22% and 25% for these offices, respectively.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Simmons, meanwhile, has announced pay rises of its own. NQs in London will earn a base rate of £100,000, up 14% from £88,000.

This change puts Simmons in the £100k NQ salary club with the likes of Macfarlanes, Hogan Lovells and Freshfields.

Simmons has also bumped NQ pay in the Bristol office to £68,000. Previously £56,000, this is an extra £12,000 or 22%. The new salaries are effective from 1 January 2022.

Our Firms Most List 2022 shows CMS dishes out around 95 TCs each year while Simmons provides around 24.

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Pay War

Travers, Ashurst, NRF surely need to raise (again) to match Simmons at least?


Please guys

Ashurst going to be to £105k, can feel it in my bones



Lmao the only thing you can feel is Gunther Treitel’s Contract Law textbook pushing up your rectum, fresher.


Reasonably impressed onlooker.

Well I wasn’t expecting that.



I hope All these salary hikes remain and only go up, rather than declining over the next 2 years.

Today firms announce 6 figures and then the economy announces a fear and everyone cuts the salary .



Salary decreases are extremely rare – only time I can think of was when covid first hit?


Forever Associate

I think it is highly unlikely there will be any permanent salary cuts at these types of firms. Maybe a pay freeze for a year or two at most. However, in the next inevitable bust the firms will do the classic cull of the trainee intake and mid-level associate ranks (e.g. 2-5PQE) to protect the profit margins. That means the remaining trainees, NQs and Senior Associates will be put through the absolute ringer in trying to do 1.5 times their already very busy schedule.

There will be a lot of 2-3 PQE real estate lawyers on the dole again. Corporate lawyers may get a 6 month hiatus but will be snatched back up again. Same thing happened in 08/09 and the beginning of Covid.

I think it is also possible some of the “Top-100” UK firms currently operating on <20% profit margins will either need to merge with wide redundancies, or will collapse. But these are mostly firms that are not part of the current salary war so not much of an issue there.



The real winners right now are the LLB class of 2018.

The ones who accepted TCs from NON- MC/SC/US firms offering around 60-70k at NQ.

Probably had a better overall TC experience and they get to qualify into a market where their firms are now suddenly offering six figure NQ salaries and they have multiple options to find an external NQ position at another top firm if they wish to do so since the NQ market is in high demand right now.



Ah yes just like the LLB class of the early 2000s until sh*t hit the fan



The LLB class of early 2000s were at firms during a time where they got made partner after 8-9 years if they played their cards right.

Many are still partners now.

Nowadays you’d be lucky to make partner and if you do it takes on average 15 years at the same firm.


Older gent

The weird thing about a lot of you kids is that you think becoming partner is the end and all of sudden the world you are protected from everything. Partners readily get canned too, and if they don’t contacts and friends the consequences can be really bad. Plenty of partners become professional jobbers moving from firm to firm in their 40s, and others drop out to become senior legal counsel in companies taking orders from 38 year olds. Some retreat to the regions to earn £80k as a partner, giving the spiel of work life balance. Plenty of partners were dropped after the GFC.



It’s funny the people seeing these salaries and thinking there’s no catch.

There is always a catch.

Employers don’t simply give you more money and expect the same returns when you were paid less. Especially not law firms.



The catch at law firms is they expect you to give up your life for the job, that isn’t new. What’s new is that the market dictates they now need to pay you more for it.



Simmons you g, clap for yourself, you’re playing with the big boys. Addleshaw and Eversheds you see your age mates?


Henriettas triggered

It’s the bloody comment section on legal cheek why do the need to speak the queens English. Get a grip



Go f yourself respectfully 🙂



It’s the same kind of people who say “I can’t be ARKSED” and “I ARKSED him this”… says it all really



Simmons and CMS you g’sss, clap for yourself, you’re playing with the big boys now. Addleshaw and Eversheds, you see your age mates? smh



So gangsta you posted twice just to let people know



Magic circle to up again? Surely £107.5k base isn’t enough to differentiate now



Freshies looks to be waiting it out, suspect they may do 110-115k. And I hope they do to trigger another raise from all other UK firms.



You’d think… But there’s no news


FF Anon

Yeaaaahh…but no. Because we differentiate ourselves, apparently, on what a wonderful place we are to work (refrain: we appreciate it isn’t all about the money…).


Content associate

You people are just getting greedy now



Most people have been working 14 hour shifts in their bedroom while partners make bumper profits due to low overheads and high billing. It’s not greedy it’s fair.



CMS raise will hopefully send Dentons the message that their pathetic £5k raise (after 3 years with no change) is not going to cut it.


Future big boy

Love to see it CMS – making those big boy moves



Surely Ashurst can’t keep theirs at 90 for too long?



You gotta think CMS must be doing extremely well financially to give out £95k to 95 trainees.


Can’t afford Soho house membership

No raise for trainees from Simmons – cheap move!


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