Freshfields sets down marker for magic circle rivals as it boosts NQ lawyer pay to £125k

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By Aishah Hussain on


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Freshfields has increased newly qualified (NQ) solicitor pay by a quarter to £125,000, setting down the marker for its magic circle rivals to follow suit.

The firm today confirmed after months of speculation that NQ base rates have moved by a hefty 25% from £100,000 to £125,000, effective 1 May 2022. NQs are also eligible for a discretionary bonus on top of the sizeable six-figure sum.

Claire Wills, London managing partner, said in a statement:

“We have increased our NQ salary rate to £125,000 with effect from 1 May 2022. We remain focused on attracting and rewarding the highest quality talent to deliver excellence for our clients. We believe that our package of financial and non-financial incentives, including paid qualification leave and career development opportunities, underpinned by effective work allocation and an inclusive working environment, offers a truly market-leading proposition.”

Freshfields offers 80 training contracts each year and pays trainees £50,000 in year one, rising to £55,000 in year two.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The major money move means Freshfields now offers the highest NQ salary of the five magic circle firms. Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Slaughter and May all pay £107,500 upon qualification, our 2022 Firms Most List shows.

Freshfields was the first of the fivesome to increase NQ base rates to £100k back in May 2019, igniting a pay war across the City. Chances are it could do the same again.

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