Advice

Open thread: What UK firms are REALLY paying associates beyond NQ level

By on
261

Share your insider salary info below the line

Newly qualified (NQ) solicitor salaries have long been reported in the legal press and used as a means to draw in talent and differentiate between the high-performing firms.

UK firms tend to publicly disclose what they pay their trainee and NQ lawyers (a full breakdown can be found in our Firms Most List) but not much is known beyond these headline figures and what they pay associates further up the PQE (post-qualified experience) ladder.

This information seems to be readily available in the US but is a lot harder to come-by in the UK, leading some of our commenters to call for greater transparency to “stop these law firms from just flashing and flexing” their shiny NQ pay figures. “Would be good to get as close as possible to the transparency standard in the American BigLaw market,” one commenter wrote.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

There have been reports, however, that the recent spate of NQ pay rises (some firms raised salaries THREE times last year) have given rise to “salary bunching” at some UK firms, whereby the difference in remuneration is rather negligible the further you go up the associate ranks, particularly in terms of take-home pay.

So we’re calling on you, our trusty readers, many of whom will work for UK law firms, to share your insider knowledge in the Legal Cheek comments section below. The aim is to provide an overview by firm (London or regions), department, class year and salary (base plus bonus for the latest financial year).

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261 Comments

NRF 2PQE

NRF

NQ 95k
1pqe 96k
2pqe 98k
3pqe 101k

Who knows after that as nobody says anything so I assume it depends on how much you are liked in your team / how tigbt the partners in your team are.

(188)(2)

Anon

Awful bunching. NRF will be terrified of articles like this coming out.

(151)(2)

LOL

First comment too! Ouch. OUCH.

(46)(0)

Anon

Legal Cheek, the NRF salary bunching deserves a ‘wooden spoon’ article in and of itself. Those are appalling numbers.

(41)(0)

Ex NRF associate

Just left for a US firm for this exact reason. I was at 107k at 3PQ so can confirm this scale is basically correct. To their credit, NRF are quite meritocratic when it comes to pay rises and promotions, with lots of small uplifts they can offer associates each year and early promotions etc. Although obviously this then ends up being a very opaque pay structure.

(4)(0)

Lol

Bakers, Weil ans Mayer Brown are US firms, why are they disclosed?

(3)(0)

WHAT?!

Is this true?!!!!! That is outrageous.

(18)(0)

Interested Party

any word/rumour on increases coming this summer?

(1)(0)

Shocked

A £1k increase after a year as an NQ is absolutely dire, my god.

It’s so obviously all about the flashy NQ salaries to get people in the door. After that, who cares?

(38)(0)

Wow

Wow I am honestly shocked – I knew it was bad at a lot of firms but that bunching is abysmal. A 1k increase between NQ and 1 PQE says it all.

(38)(0)

Shocked

Is this firm wide or team specific? Can someone please verify?

(1)(0)

NRFSenior

NRF – 6PQE – Senior Associate – £119k.

(32)(0)

NRFLessSenior

NRF – 4.5PQE – Senior Associate – £127k.

(15)(0)

Recruitment consultant

Better start contacting those NRF associates!

(31)(0)

NRF

Can confirm this is accurate (and shocking). The bunching has been pointed out, management don’t care at all.

(25)(0)

Not Real Firm

Is that because of the artificial banding by NRF?

(0)(1)

NRF

NRF pay review this week. Went up 2k (2%). Hardly generous when inflation is 8%…

(1)(0)

Anon

Mills and reeve regions. £50k 2.5pqe. Discretionary bonuses £1-4k

(0)(0)

Anon

YES. This will be a gamechanger.

(43)(2)

RPC

RPC.
Associate ~4 PQE.
Insurance.

Pre-July promised increase and NQ uplift – £85k

Post-July promised increase – f*ck knows / have not been told. I would hope to hit £100k as a minimum.

(30)(2)

RPC

RPC Bristol
Insurance
2PQE £53k.
Currently unclear where it’ll go in the summer after recent NQ bump.

(12)(3)

Mr Smith

I think you need to correct your typo, as you have said £53k as a 2PQE salary. We pay our nanny much more than that. What do you really earn?

(3)(18)

Anon

S&M:
– 2.5PQE: £141,000
– 3PQE: £150,000

(54)(0)

Ecstatic associate

Legal Cheek – LOVE THIS. Fair play.

But for proper fact checking, looking at people’s names and cross checking against firm profiles this should be done via tip offs. Prevents the trolls and increases the accuracy of the end product

(97)(3)

Anon

North West Commercial Property
International Firm at 3yr PQE – £55k
Boutique Firm from 2018 onwards:-
3.5yr PQE – £60k
4yr PQE – £65k
5 yr PQE – £80k
6 yr PQE – £87k
7 yr PQE – £96k

(6)(53)

Anon

You haven’t named the firm so what’s the point?

(87)(1)

Anon

How is this relevant today.

(11)(1)

2 pieces of chicken, 3 wings, large fries and large baked beans please mate.

Calling it now – at least one UK firm will provide a break down of salaries for NQ – 5PQE in response to this.

Firms that really have just bunched their salaries in favour of a shiny NQ salary will of course do their best to ignore because there’s no going back anytime soon.

(43)(1)

CMS 5PQE

No gravy? Heinous.

I earn £115k.

(23)(1)

Another CMS 5PQE

At 5PQE – £130k + bonus
Now 5.5 PQE – £149k + bonus

Bonus usually c.15%

(0)(1)

Another CMS 5PQE

It depends on your team and your individual performance, but I know 5-6 PQEs with the following salaries + bonus: £124k, £130k and £149k.

(0)(0)

TW

TW:
NQ – £95k
1PQE – £97.5k
2PQE – £100k
3PQE – c.£105k

(33)(0)

TW

TW:
NQ – £95k
1PQE – £97.5k
2PQE – £100k
3PQE – c.£105k

There’s a cap for senior associates tho…

(10)(1)

TW2

to put the “cap” in context, it’s well above those junior salaries referenced.

(0)(1)

TW

Yeap, though it’s a bit ridiculous that a 9PQE who is a senior associate (by way of example) is making similar or less than a NQ at a US firm.

(I know we got to take into account the hours etc. but you know…)

(5)(2)

US associate

*Grabs popcorn*

(47)(4)

Kirkland NQ

*doesn’t care as has brand new Lambo in the garage of Chelsea townhouse*

(6)(45)

Bakers

Bakers NQ – 1PQE £105k

(23)(0)

Bakers incoming vac schemer

Bakers NQ is already £105k though??

(0)(1)

Anon

Eversheds Sutherland, regional office, employment, 4.5 years PQE, £55.5k salary + £3k discretionary bonus.

(32)(1)

US quadfather

Lmaooo dat dere thicc wadd bonuzz

(2)(12)

ES Associate

ES regional NQ – currently £50k to be bumped to £62k in May

1yr PQE £50,500 to be bumped following NQ increases – amount not confirmed but expecting similar bunching to current.

(0)(0)

ES Senior Associate

ES regional Associate NQ – £62k
5 PQE Senior Associate – £69k

(1)(0)

UK firms beware

So 3 PQE is worth 6k more than an NQ? That’s gotta sting.

(53)(0)

Gimme the LOW down

Super interested to see what the following firms pay beyond NQ:

Ashurst, Macfarlanes, HSF, Mayer Brown, and Bakers

(32)(0)

In St. Ives

As a Mayer Brown NQ I’m curious too – all we’ve been told is that your increase each year depends on your appraisal grade, but we’re not told what the standard is or what the difference is between each grade. Bold move to design an incentive scheme that doesn’t tell anyone what the incentives are.

(28)(0)

Anon

HSF NQ is 105k, and 1PQE is 106k. Salaries are fixed for 1 + 2pqe and then my understanding is there’s banding.

(27)(1)

MB 1PQE

£110k

(3)(2)

Insider

Mayer brown finance is slightly more. 120 for 1 PQE. They do have higher targets though.

(9)(0)

Anon

HSF Snr Associate (5PQE) £135k + bonus of ~£20k (bonus up to £40k but have to be smashing hours to get to top of range).

Waiting to see what we do following recent MC hikes – thus far we’ve kept pace and the bunching hasn’t been too bad but we’ll see this time…

(17)(0)

hm

this kind of thread is just going to result in children lying about stuff or associates providing out of date pay scales or guesstimates

there’s a reason why other places verify your P45 or equivalent

(19)(6)

Will

😂 I’ll happily send my P45 in then. You must be a partner or the son of a partner.

(17)(6)

hm

i’m a trainee at a firm that hasn’t raised trainee salaries in a year. relax.

feel free to send in your P45 to LC, and persuade everyone else to do so ^^

(7)(2)

V

Weil – 3 pqe 200,000 k (including bonus)

(24)(2)

V

to be clear, 3PQE at Weil starts at 160 and caps out around 200 per the other thread

(12)(1)

Bo

What other thread?

(1)(0)

B

Kennedys – 120k – 1pqe, what a jump!!!

(7)(47)

Truth sayer

Bullshit

(13)(0)

R

If this is Kennedys UK, it is highly unlikely to be accurate.

(2)(0)

Anon

CC 1 PQE £116K

(24)(1)

CC Thread

CC 4 PQE £138k

(18)(2)

CC Thread

CC 9 PQE £173k

(0)(0)

Bob

CC 4.5 PQE – 147K + 30K bonus (last year)

(still awaiting this years pay rise and bonus numbers …)

(1)(1)

Gideon

This is abit silly because not all firm are public about their bands. The firm I am at (SC) the only way to know the bands above you is by asking around and no one does that .

LC needs to obtain official verification from firms regarding this

(10)(22)

US associate

lmao as if “firms” are going to verify anything.

(18)(1)

Anon

Yeah this needs to be done by LC anonymously, verified and then posted.

This is just laziness on behalf of LC.

(23)(6)

Ssssh

Shut up Anon. This will be stage 1. I’m sure LC will go into more analysis at a later date. This is them starting up the market research to see if it is worth digging into more. Well done LC…although if it does end with just this thread then agreed, lazy (and useless).

(40)(1)

...

DLA regions 3 PQE £73k

(21)(0)

Anon

DLA regions 1 PQE £67k

(10)(0)

Anon

DLA – regions 2pqe – 68k

(2)(0)

Anon

that’s a very good salary for the regions

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer payscale – newly massively boosted bonus pot from next FY on- assuming standard bonus @1800 hrs and normal ratings, and standard speed (one promotion every 12 months) profession through the “Career Milestones”:

NQ: 125,000 + 13,000
1PQE: 130,000 + 18,000
2PQE: 140,000 + 38,000
3PQE: 150,000 + 56,000
4PQE: 160,000 + 84,000
5PQE: 165,000 + 102,000
6PQE / senior associate: 175,000 + 116,000

If you do the sums you’ll see that this is benchmarked against the Cravath scale (sans Cravath bonuses)

(65)(2)

Yawn

It’s not benchmarked at all. You have to spend 5 years at FF to get would you would as a NQ at cravath benched firms

(16)(12)

Learn to read

“Cravath scale (sans Cravath bonuses)”

(45)(0)

Not too shabby

Idk about everyone else, but I think this is good.

(16)(0)

FBD

At a high level, this is pretty much bang on

(10)(0)

Not Real Firm

Those are big bonuses!

(8)(0)

Bob

Holy shit hopefully CC follows that bonus scale …

(3)(0)

Travers Associate

Travers 3pqe 117k

(20)(0)

Anonymous

Shooey’s London:

NQ – 75K
1PQE – 77K

(25)(0)

Just been rockclimbing

HSF lowdown?

(9)(1)

Anon

CC 5 to 6 PQE 155,000

(14)(0)

Anon part 2

Is this pre-bonus?

(5)(0)

LL

LL (as at Nov 21):

NQ: £105.5k
1PQE: £115k
2PQE: £130k
3PQE: £140k
4PQE: £150k
5PQE: £160k

(39)(2)

Why not

Not going up in May?

(2)(0)

Vb

Shoosmiths – 122k 2 pqe

(3)(54)

Not born yesterday

100% lie

(20)(1)

No Man's Land

Please can people post their locations, city or regions? It would massively help in understanding the salaries.

(6)(2)

Anon

Nah then they’ll narrow down who we are!!

(0)(0)

CMS anon

CMS
NQ-95
1PQE – 98
2PQE – 101
3PQE – 106
4PQE – 115

(20)(0)

ABCDEFG

CMS regions 3.5 yrs qualified is on 54k.

(9)(1)

Anon up north

That can’t be right. Nq rate is nearly 52k?! So in 3 years you get a 2k increase. Expect it to be closer to 60k

(6)(0)

CMS regional

CMS regional 2 year PQE £57k + bonus

(1)(0)

Anon

CMS regions 5yrs pqe £77k + bonus

(0)(0)

Loose Cannon

1.5PQE CMS Associate in the Finance PG on £95,450. Allegedly I’ll get a big boost in July but the CV is out with recruiters because there is no trust in the firm to do what is right

(18)(0)

Reply to anon

Does CMS include bonus?

(2)(0)

CMS anon

Bonus kicks in at 1,200 billed hours. This year, bonus can be up to 40% of salary providing you max out your billables at (i think) 1,800 and you get a good review on the personal side (i should mention, bonus is split 50/50 with half based on billables and half based on whether your team thinks you deserve anything). In reality, most people will end up with about a 20-30% bonus.

(13)(1)

ANON

people don’t even get to the bonus unless it’s a corporate lawyer. Rubbish policy and doesn’t cater for the entire firm. Firm needs to incentise staff by paying more, who cares about the bonus? In a firm that prides itself on ‘work life’ balance, the bonus is there to basically make you slave away and not have a work life balance whilst getting paid dud – double. Desperately hope management read this and take on the views of lawyers.

(7)(1)

Tired and frustrated

Just to add a voice to this on the basis that management ever do decide to pull their heads from the sand.

The bonus policy is horrendous, how dare you try to spin it as in favour of us.

If a partner underquotes to win the deal, we as the associates suffer the consequences. I’ve had writeoffs of 50% on some deals and I get no benefit from those lost hours.

Or if a partner is too stupid to push for monthly billing even if they know a deal is contingent on far off regulatory approval, we then don’t get the benefit of the hours we work until future years.

CMS is a firm where they will screw you over on money at every opportunity. Remember the Corporate specific payrise back in January 2019? The wording of the all staff email was that the payrise was because Corporate couldn’t hire anyone. In other words, you little piggies don’t deserve this payrise, you just get it because we can’t hire self respecting externals.

CMS sort yourself out and get a grip. At all levels we’re frustrated with this and you are going to see talent haemorrhaging.

Anon

Note CMS “billables” means what actually gets billed, so write-offs are taken off hours. 1200 hours therefore sounds a lower target than it is. Used to be the case couple years ago anyway.

(1)(0)

Mayer Brown 1PQE

£110k

(6)(0)

Fun times for business professionals

Be careful what you wish for with the pay war. Everyone shouting about the ‘prestige’ of FF upping their NQ rate must also be aware that FF are moving all their back office staff (i.e. non lawyers) to Eastern Europe because of it. You might not care now, but when your non-billable hours increase exponentially due to lack of support on the ground, and your billables also increase to pay for the increases, you might not be so happy.

(31)(14)

G

That’s fine, I’ll just ask my partner to throw more work at me. I’m sure he’ll cast a spell and pull the work out of thin air.

(13)(4)

Anon

G – what are you even talking about?

(8)(1)

Anon

and closing their manchester office?

(4)(0)

hm

source?

(2)(2)

Anon

Source is roll on friday, who usually get it right.

(4)(1)

Al

*FF are moving all their back office staff (i.e. non lawyers) to Eastern Europe*

“In order to expand our business profile, we are now offering mercenary services. You’ll like our new client; and you get a big bonus! Unfortunately it will be paid in Rubles.”

(4)(4)

Keep making noise.

I’m the person who wrote those comments quoted on the article and I don’t think this is the best way of doing it – as most colleagues have alluded to, anyone can comment anything. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, more effort is needed from the publications (be that LC or anyone else) to verify the info coming in and ensure absolute anonymity for the person submitting.

I’m not sure if publications refuse to do this as they’re sponsored by law firms and don’t want to risk their relationship, but publishing something like this would be such a big exclusive and would certainly gain respect from junior lawyers.

(53)(0)

Gotta start somewhere

But surely they need the info to go to the firms?

(7)(0)

MC NQ

MC comparison please

(3)(0)

Lambs to the Slaughterhouse

Slaughters, from 1 May:

– NQ: £115,000
– 1 PQE: £122,000
– 1.5 PQE: £127,500
– 2 PQE: £133,500
– 2.5 PQE: 141,500
– 3 PQE: £150,000
– 3.5 PQE: £158,000
– 4 PQE: £166,000
– 5.5 PQE: £174,000

(49)(0)

SM 0.5PQ

0.5PQ: £117.5k

(12)(0)

SM5

5.5 must be incorrect here. 5 PQ is 174,500

(11)(0)

Anon

What are the bonuses like?

(1)(0)

LC, the world is yours!

Legal Cheek GOATED for this one 🙌 👌

(26)(2)

BCLP 2PQE

BCLP 2PQE £98.5k

(8)(1)

Anon

Macs NQ – £110k with bonus
1PQE – 120
2PQE – 125-130

(6)(2)

Barrister

Why the disparity at 2PQE? Are figures all figures including bonus? What about more senior?

(2)(0)

M

There are salary bands for 1PQE+:

NQ: 100
1PQE: 102.5-110
2PQE: 105-125
3PQE: 110-135
4PQE: 115-145
5PQE: 120+

These are all plus a firm bonus (everyone gets) of around 10%, plus an individual bonus of 10-35%

(14)(0)

Anon

So pay differs depending on practice area e.g. corporate associates at higher end of bands?

(1)(0)

anon2

all including bonus?

(0)(0)

Anon

2PQE excluding bonus. Assocites eligible for 2 bonuses – 1 firm wide around 7-10% and 1 performance based 5-7ish%

(4)(1)

Yeaaah boi

Weightmans 2pqe 135.5k

Milking it mate

(6)(29)

Anon

That’s £35.5k NQ outside London

Getting milked mate

(1)(0)

Optimistic trainee

Dechert anyone? RollonFriday reports £140, £140, £145, £160…

(7)(0)

Question

Which firm can you earn 6 figures with a fairly normal work life balance early in your careers?

(23)(2)

Bn

Could argue travers smith or maybe hogan lovely’s, think you’ll still have a life with those

(5)(3)

Anon

If you’re wanting something close to a normal work life balance, probably SC and below but even SC can be long hours and occasional weekend work.

Eversheds, AG and other firms that sit at 95k will likely be over 6 figures in a year or two and they will have a better work life balance than SC/MC.

(18)(0)

Anon

You can still have a life if you do advisory work in MC firms. I do advisory work at an MC firm and literally only have to do any work on a weekend about once or twice per year (yet get paid the same as the poor sods slogging away in transactional departments). Weekdays are a bit of a write off in terms of social plans due to the uncertainty of the hours, but it’s not like I’m finishing at midnight every day, more like 7pm or 8pm most days. There will be occasional late nights, but those are fairly rare. It’s not even that hard to hit the 1,800 hours for an automatic bonus if you are just consistent with your billable workload.

(30)(1)

Gh

Advisory work talking like IP or antitrust?

(2)(2)

Anon

No lol, like tax or employment.

(19)(0)

Reply to dumbo

How’s it IP and antitrust not advisory? Lol it involves a lot of research and adhering to regulations

An advisory lawyer

It’s not ‘dumb’ to recognise the pressures of working in a corporate antitrust team are not the same as working in much slower advisory teams, like tax. You will work longer hours in IP and antitrust, ‘dumbo’. Advisory it may be, it’s not the same.

jim

Antitrust isn’t really an advisory department in the traditional sense and involves long hours, huge deadline pressures, overnight working etc.

(0)(0)

HOURS

This seriously sounds like CMS, yet you’re on much more $. Thanks for sharing.

(0)(1)

Incoming MC trainee

Sounds like advisory is the dream.

Anyone know which advisory area(s) would allow me to work overseas on / after qualification? Thanks!

(1)(1)

jezum

financial services
competition

not uncommon for junior assocs to move around in those two areas in particular

(3)(2)

H

What’s the pqe rates for Watson Farley & Williams and herber smith

(5)(2)

Yv

What’s the trainee salaries for Accutrainee?

(1)(0)

Trash

When I interviewed with them in 2017/2018 it was £25k in London. I laughed and actually left early. If the choice is being a paralegal and using that as qualifying experience for the SQE, or applying for a TC at Accutrainee, you’re better off on the SQE.

(35)(0)

Anon

Hogan Lovells

NQ: £107.5 (post-salary increase)
1PQE: £110 (pre-salary increase). Band: £106-£110.

PQE salaries will be reviewed in May so the above figure will be outdated soon.

Bonus: usually 20% based on hours + a small discretionary bonus.

Hours for 2020 and 2021: 2,000+

(12)(0)

Anon

Hogan Lovells 2PQE band is £108k-114k (pre-salary increase). As above re hours bonus / discretionary bonus.

(5)(0)

Anon

Any idea what HL pays at the higher PQE levels and for senior associates?

(1)(0)

Pinsent Masons Regions

No idea what they’ll do following the NQ pay rise to £61k in September 2022 (though, of course, I’m sure it’ll be disappointing) but current PM regions pay is approx:

NQ – 47
1PQE – 50
2PQE – 55
3PQE – 60
4PQE – 62.5
5PQE – 65
6PQE – 67.5
7PQE – 70
8PQE – 75

Bonuses = not worth mentioning.

(18)(3)

Anon

Pinsets are increasing salaries?!

(5)(1)

Anon

Struggling to see the benefit of not announcing it publicly (yet). Then again, all senior fingers may be crossed for a market collapse over the summer so no need to raise at all 💰

(1)(0)

Anon up north

This has got to be the most helpful comment if true. Salaries are higher than I thought to be honest. Decent jumps between pqe. I think similar to the other bigger northern firms before the nq increase

(11)(0)

Kirkland NQ

u must be joking! i make more than x2 of an 8PQE in my year 0? a tube driver gets paid more than this

(2)(6)

anon

Gowling WLG – NQ @ 85 then 88/92/96

(13)(0)

Kirkland NQ

this looks to me more like a pension payout, rather than a salary

(2)(8)

Considering options

Anyone have a few insights for 1PQE and up in London at Simmons & Simmons, Eversheds, Addleshaws and Osborne Clarke?

Also, for those above at the firms with some pretty ridiculous salary compression (NRF, TW, CMS) are those rates then all adjusted for inflation as well every year? And is there a multiplier if you’re promoted to the next level e.g. move from associate to senior associate?

I know in some industries it’s normal to get tiny lockstep increases every year no matter what, but the major adjustments come with title improvements as you move to the next salary “band”.

(2)(1)

DWF-FER

DWF New NQ Rates:

London – £80k
Regions – £47k
Scotland – £45k

Rate for insurance roles still to be confirmed.

Also allocating shares up to 20% of salary.

(5)(3)

Anon

AG – 6PQE (Managing Associate, London): £110k (increases not yet announced)

(6)(0)

Simmons 3PQE

Simmons 3PQE £117.5k

(1)(0)

Mehma

What does Milbank pay please and what is it like working there?

(1)(6)

Milbank associate

Horrendous

(4)(0)

Lurking

Anyone know what Simmons pays?

(3)(0)

Just a thought

Legal Cheek, appreciate the efforts to make the PQE scales more transparent. Valuable work! But you’ll need some sort of table showing the pay per band for all the different firms that the comments data can feed into. ROF used to have this until they stopped updating circa 1990.

Maybe just limit it to 1-3PQE? There’s not going to be that many people sticking around in law after that (and few of them will be LC readers). Also it seems to get more complicated as, from what I’ve seen at my firms, senior associate salary becomes more discretionary depending on performance.

Hopefully this will make firms more competitive for NQs to 3PQE which is when the sane ones will pack this soulless career in…

(29)(3)

rest in peace

pretty unpleasant… but no one who wants to work at Milbank is deluded with regard to this

(7)(0)

Kirkland NQ

The ‘land:

NQ – enough to bankrupt a small African nation
1pqe – Mayfair Lambo dealership closes its doors to give you their exclusive attention
2pqe – enough that you speak more to your yacht broker than your model girlfriend
3pqe – Your alma mater names a building after you
5pqe+ – I’m working remotely from my island in French Polynesia
Partner – enough to hire Jeff Bezos as your footman

(48)(51)

Please stop

There’s a time and a place for the millionth iteration of your rubbish joke fresher.

The funny thing is there are US firms that have better exchange rates than Kirkland and lower target hours than Kirkland’s 2000 – I know, I work at one.

(65)(10)

Lol

I thought this one was quite original tbf.

Instead of the usual tone liner, he’s applied the joke to the subject matter of the comments

(22)(1)

Lies

I’ll bite. Which? Nqs at Kirkland take home between £170-180 I believe according to other comments here.

(1)(2)

Noice

this is the funniest comment from you in months!

(23)(1)

Corbyn

I’m right-wing but this is some beautiful collective action from Legal Cheek and the junior solicitor community.

Share that info, shame the firms into higher pay!

(16)(30)

?

And the relevancy of you being right wing is…? Surely a free and open market should encourage pay transparency inherently so workers are free to choose? Providing people with the tools to choose their priorities when looking at employers shouldn’t be inherently political.

(43)(3)

Enlightened centrist

“Providing people with the tools to choose their priorities when looking at employers shouldn’t be inherently political.”

Everything is inherently political nowadays as that means the commoners argue amongst themselves and nothing changes. What ‘ought’ to be and what ‘are’ are not the same.

(3)(3)

CallMeByYourName

Anyone have the insights on Squires ?

(3)(1)

Anon

Rubbish practice

(14)(3)

Spb really?

Can’t believe their regional rate is 55k. Complete joke

(4)(0)

SPB 3PQE

I’m in the London office.

NQ* – £95k
1 PQE – Don’t know
2 PQE – Don’t know
3 PQE – £105k

Transparent contractual (not discretionary) bonus scheme. Target is 1600 hours. For every 1% you are over your target you get a 1% base salary bonus.

* A number of people complained re the gap between NQ and other bands. People left over it. We learnt that some NQs are also paid slightly more than others due to department (e.g. corporate).

I also know that before readjustment a 7 PQE was on £105k. When we discussed they didn’t disclose new salary but said the gap between us had gotten smaller.

Fully support sharing this information. It is good for all of us.

(4)(0)

Kirkland NQ

are u joking?

(0)(6)

Some Guy

Re bonus, yes, I think it’s 1600-1650 (I can’t remember if it was upped this year) – but the bonus kicks in on hours over 1700-1750 i.e. 100-150 above target, not at target. I’m going off memory, but it’s a caveat in the policy. I haven’t done the maths for a hot while, but I worked out you were getting like 5-10k max more for working over target to close to US hours. Shoot me if I’m wrong, because I’m working off memory.

(0)(0)

Ew

Who gives af if you’re right wing, go suck Boris off

(20)(4)

Anon

You ok hun?

(1)(4)

My 2 pence

The lateral market will be a bit different. Up north, I bet you can get the below if they like you.

Nq – 65
1pqe – 68
2pqe – 70
3pqe – 73
4pqe – 75 plus

(4)(15)

Clarification

Just want to note that I am one of the thumbs up. That was an accident. It should have been thumbs down.

(18)(0)

SM5

5.5 is incorrect. Must be higher. 5 PQE 174,500

(7)(0)

Exsm

Could be numbers with and without show-round uplift doing the rounds at that level.

(1)(0)

US firm associate

A&O and CC, the ‘friendly magic circle firms’, where you boys at? We’ve got Freshfields, Links and even Slaughters above. Give us the payscales and we can have an MC comparison table

(30)(2)

ES 1.5 PQE

ES NQ Regional = £50k

ES 1PQE = £50.5k

NQ up to £62k from 1 May so unsure on impact at other bands.

(8)(0)

Gotta do what you gotta do

Some advice for LC: Consider working with law meme accounts to collect data. US based accounts like NEP and BLB do some great work for the community. Granted U.K. law meme community is literally only CLB now with Slaughtered and Dismayed out of the picture, but they have a pretty big following of junior lawyers and might be willing to share info. Many junior lawyers will be willing to help out I’m sure as we’re all nosy and wanna know how we compare in the market, AS LONG AS anonymity is promised and preserved. This could be a market moving piece if executed properly and I think it’s well worth a shot.

(34)(1)

John

What is CLB?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Shoosmiths – 1.5PQE – Regions – £56k

Supposed re-jig end of the month

(4)(0)

Anon

Re-jig as in rises?

(2)(0)

SullyAndDushane

Yep – across the board, so we’ve been told. Whole ‘new’ approach to financial strategy. Could just be mere lip service, but we’ll find out soon enough.

(2)(0)

Could it be

You mean there will be salary increases ?

(2)(0)

Poosmiths

Might be – it’s a broad review of of ‘benefits package’, some think they will introduce a form of bonus. Only speculation at this point as the results will be announced in May at the earliest.

(1)(0)

Kirkland NQ

are u joking?

(0)(6)

Let’s do this

As LC are too lazy to do the work themselves, what do the community think is the best way to do this in a verifiable way while keeping the people anonymous?

Some people have mentioned sending in payslips, P45s which I think would work if identifiable is blurred out no? Honestly, if LC dont do it, I’m happy to make a new email address and accept tipoffs and do this myself – if people collaborate it probably won’t even be that much work

(15)(1)

The answera

Something like the Goldman Sachs presentation but with a google spreadsheet. I dont think you can be anon and the findings be accurate, you need to be cross referenced against your profile on Linkedin / firm profile. That keeps you fairly honest in terms of reporting. If you go as far as to identify yourself to Legal Cheek as I have done in Tip Offs section, you just need to be off the record in respect of names.

LC cant do it themselves, they would be laughed out the door if they just asked themselves. They need a solid block of information first.

(2)(0)

delusion collusion

lol as if anyone would be any more likely to trust their P45 to a random email address than they would to LC

“oh yeah sure let me share my salary and where I work with a gmail address set up by someone I don’t know, such a great idea!”

also lol x2 at the idea that LC is on your side. they did one lazy article to drive clicks on a slow Thursday before a bank holiday. they’re not going to do a serious campaign against the law firms that feed them. nor are they going to put in the effort to collect 100s of salaries in the process

(15)(0)

Response to advisory enthusiast

Then be clear on the type of area in advisory. It’s not monolithic. Also tax is always involved in corporate deals, despite you’re perception of their pace of work being “slow”.

(5)(4)

Lol

If you’re going to drop in words like monolithic, you should probably know which ‘your’ to use too… put the thesaurus down

(6)(0)

Reply to grammar police

Ooo we have the grammar police 👮‍♀️ guys I’ve been caught red handed loool

(0)(0)

Reply to grammar police

Ooo we have the grammar police 👮‍♀️ I’ve been caught red handed! Also, monolithic is a big word for you? Yikes!!

(0)(0)

response to lol

I’ve been caught by the grammar police! Also, does monolithic impress you or something? Yikes!!

(0)(0)

Chegal Leek

So far, this is what I have gathered from the comments. Of course, I am unable to verify so I have simply gone through the comments and collected information. Where possible, I’ve added NQ salary as well as that is ofc widely available and helps us to see how pathetic the raises truly are from NQ.

Slaughter and May:
– NQ: 115k
– 0.5PQE: 117.5k
– 1PQE: 122k
– 1.5PQE: 127.5k
– 2PQE: 133.5k
– 2.5PQE: 141.5k (someone else said 141k so unsure which)
– 3PQE: 150k
– 3.5PQE: 158k
– 4PQE: 166k
– 5PQE: 174.5k

Freshfields:
– NQ: 125k + 13k
– 1PQE: 130k + 18k
– 2PQE: 140k + 38k
– 3PQE: 150k + 56k
– 4PQE: 160k + 84k
– 5PQE: 165k + 102k
– 6PQE / senior associate: 175k + 116k

Links (as of Nov 2021)-
– NQ: 105.5k
– 1PQE: 115k
– 2PQE: 130k
– 3PQE: 140k
– 4PQE: 150k
– 5PQE: 160k

Pinsents (Regions(:
– NQ: 47k
– 1PQE: 50k
– 2PQE: 55k
– 3PQE: 60k
– 4PQE: 62.5k
– 5PQE: 65k
– 6PQE: 67.5k
– 7PQE: 70k
– 8PQE: 75k

Macfarlanes:
– NQ: 100
k
– 1PQE: 102.5-110
k
– 2PQE: 105-125
k
– 3PQE: 110-135k

– 4PQE: 115-145
k
– 5PQE: 120k+

These are all plus a firm bonus (everyone gets) of around 10%, plus an individual bonus of 10-35%

Taylor Wessing:
– NQ: 95k
– 1PQE: 97.5k
– 2PQE: 100k
– 3PQE: c.105k

CMS:
– NQ: 95k
– 1PQE: 98k
– 2PQE:101k
– 3PQE:106k
– 4PQE: 115k

NRF:
– NQ: 95k
– 1PQE: 96k
– 2PQE: 
98k
– 3PQE: 101k

– 4.5PQE: 
127k (I know this is weird cos it’s higher than 6PQE but that’s what was said lol)
– 6PQE: 119k

Clifford Chance:
– NQ: 107.5k
– 1PQE: 116k
– 4PQE: 138k
– 5-6 PQE: 155k

DLA regions:
– NQ: 65k
– 1PQE: 67k
– 3PQE: 73k

Gowling WLG:
– NQ: 85k
– 1PQE: 92k
– 2PQE: 96k

Mayer Brown:
– NQ: 105k
– 1PQE: 110k (allegedly 120k for finance)

BCLP:
– NQ: 95k
– 2PQE: 98.5k

Eversheds (regional):
– NQ: 62k (LC most list need to update this – got this figure from news article)
– 4.5PQE – 55.5k + 3k bonus

Shoosmiths:
– NQ: 75k
– 1PQE: 77k

Addlesshaw Goddard:
– NQ: 95k
– 6PQE: £110k (managing associate / increases not yet announced)

Travers Smith:
– NQ: 100k
– 3PQE: 117k

Hogan Lovells:
– NQ: 107.5k
– 1PQE: 106-110k (this band is pre recent salary increase)
– 2PQE: 108-114k (this band is pre recent salary increase)

Bonus: usually 20% based on hours + a small discretionary bonus.

(180)(2)

Hero

Not all superheros wear capes.

(53)(0)

Anon

CMS Corporate are on higher than those salaries – 108 at 1 PQE.

(1)(1)

anon

The increases are actually pretty poor across the board.
At the MC, over a period of 5/6 years, your pay increases about 50/60k. At a very good firm like Macfarlane’s, it potentially only increases by about 20-40k. And at Addleshaw it increases 15k in that time. After tax some of those increases won’t have a material impact on your standard of living.
Ordinarily those increases are decent, especially when compared to the average job. But this is a job that can be equally as demanding as investment banking. It’s a job which requires high grades and many years of education.
It’s really not surprising that UK firms have a retention issue with senior associates. The Cravath scale is just so, so much better.

(17)(0)

Anon

It doesn’t in reality though, because the bands also go up over time in addition to you going up a band. When I was an NQ (MC) I started on 80k base (which had just at that time been upped from about 68k), the combined effects of increases (in the never ending pay war) plus PQE increments means my salary has doubled in 6 years.

(4)(1)

Clarification

Just want to note that I am one of the thumbs up. That was an accident. It should have been thumbs down.

(0)(19)

Question

Is it harder to get a TC or VS at city and/or US firms?

(0)(27)

Carolyn

cheap troll question, go away

(17)(0)

Bemused

It would be helpful if only those who had info to contribute posted on this thread, and you kept all this other nonsense (work life balance, grades, transactional v advisory etc) for different threads. Posting a comment ‘what does HL pay’ isn’t really helpful.

(19)(2)

Equally bemused

Think you forget to contribute your own info there mate

(24)(1)

B

What’s the NQ for those obscure US firms:

Greeburg traurig and Faegre Drinker

(12)(3)

Anon

Ashurst – 2PQE – 110K

(2)(1)

anon

is this before or after the NQ rise due in May?

(0)(0)

anon

is this before or after the NQ raise in May?

(0)(0)

Worried trainee

Is this expected to go up in May when the NQ salary goes up?

Or is there just bunching?

If NQ = 105K & 2PQE = 110k then 1PQE=107.5k?

(1)(1)

wernotashitfirmOK

Spb??

(5)(3)

doesnt matter

NQ – £95,000
1PQE – £88,000
2PQE – £80,000
3PQE – £65,000

(7)(10)

Seriously why?

So little! For so long! Why don’t they come to the Bar, qualify a year earlier and take home £250-300k after a year or two? All those years when the pay increase is still in the 6o% marginal tax rate must be depressing.

(4)(10)

Realist

You know the answer: it’s too competitive. Compare the number of pupillages at commercial and chancery bar sets to the number of training contracts in US/MC/City firms. While the latter are still b##dy hard to get, they’re far easier than pupillages, let alone tenancy.

Obviously, you won’t be told about how competitive the bar is by old and bold barristers in the social justice crowd who think they’re doing people a favour by mindlessly encouraging anyone to squander years of their life and £££ doing the BPTC and then years of futile applications, etc.

(5)(0)

K&E NQ

K&E
NQ – Inc bonus – £174,000

(4)(0)

L&W NQ

L&W
NQ – Inc bonus – £188,000

(1)(6)

LW1PQE

This is false

(9)(0)

Milbank NQ

Milbank
NQ – Inc bouns – £183,000

(2)(1)

Question again

I’m genuinely asking Carolyn you dweeb.
Is it harder to get a TC or VS at city and/or US firms?

(0)(5)

Dweeb

both are actually equally easy. there’s a very small pool of applicants so large city law firms typically just end up offering TCs/VSes to everyone anyway. do not be intimidated by the small number of TCs some US firms offer, its just that such firms tend to be less popular with law graduates so they tend to end up with having a smaller trainee intake. hope that helps!

(6)(2)

Dweeb

both are equally easy. normally the pool of applicants are so small that many large city law firms end up offering TCs/VSes to every applicant anyway. in fact, I have even heard a few people receiving both TC and VS offers from the same firm! given this exceptionally high chance of success rate, you should be careful in deciding which firm/which route to apply for, as you wouldn’t want to end up in a situation where you are offered too many TCs/VSes that you have to send out multiple rejection emails. hope this helps!

(3)(1)

Anonymous

This is so false. Most firms have an acceptance rate ranging from <1% – 5%. That is in no way, shape or form considered ‘easy’.

(2)(3)

Not OP

Obvious satire, come on

(4)(0)

DLA?

Anyone have DLA London salary?

(2)(1)

doesnt matter

NQ – £18,000
1PQE – £23,000
2PQE – £25,000
3PQE – £27,500

(1)(5)

PMC- NQ

any Penningtons Manches Cooper salary info?

(1)(2)

Manched

1 peppercorn per PQE.

(12)(1)

clueless

anyone know what the skadden scale is?

(0)(0)

Skadden 3PQE

Class of 2021: £157k
2020: £164k
2019: £182k
2018: £215k
2017: £252k
2016: £270k
2015: £292k
2014+: £303k

These are the base figures. You get a bonus if you hit the 1800 target hours which includes pro bono (from £12k as an NQ to £95k in 2014 class). There’s also a special bonus on top if you’re seen as a strong performer

(9)(0)

lolz

thanks. is this pegged to NYC?

(0)(0)

Skadden 3PQE

Yes – any US firm that follows the Cravath scale raises salaries in $ for its US offices and then those figures are converted for the London office.

This means US firms will never raise based on what the Magic Circle etc do. They just base London salaries on the US rates (lucky us!)

(1)(0)

Lathamilbank

A lot of students will do the raw conversion from USD to GBP and get confused why the real numbers seem a lot lower.

Think the only US shops paying fair wedge rn are Kirkland which uses close to spot rate (updated monthly), and those firms recently listed as hiking NQ to £160k ish

(2)(0)

WeilyCoyote

Weil

NQ 140
3PQE 180
4PQE 220
5PQE 235
6PQE 260

Plus Bonuses of 15-30% every year.

(4)(1)

V

These figures are incorrect (most too high, some too low). NQ is 150: https://ukrecruiting.weil.com/salary-benefits

Bonuses of 15% are also not guaranteed.

(4)(1)

Weil Slain

What is the actual scale then?

(3)(0)

Weil Slain

Could you break down the entire scale if you are an insider? Would be greatly appreciated !

(1)(0)

WeilyCoyote

I was just setting out what I got paid at each level so no idea how it fits in wider scales (and apologies, you’re right on NQ – just added from memory).

(0)(0)

Put your comments for LC to take to law firms

If you’re still here – now that we’ve seen some of the numbers, what are your thoughts and comments on U.K. firms taking the absolute mickey by flexing their NQ salaries and not making similar increases across the PQE levels?

Lots of people have mentioned this is why U.K. firms have retention issues but surely there’s only so many U.S. firm jobs out there right so many U.K. lawyers are having to pull similar hours and get paid substantially less. Of course, I concede that lawyers get paid a LOT more than your average Joe. But when there is such a big discrepancy, it calls for change and I think initial steps such as this to gather information will be really helpful in pushing for change.

If all partners give up £100k towards the associate salary pot, they probably won’t miss it a lot from their millions, but could do bits for juniors.

(4)(1)

Anon

Shoosmiths – 5 PQE – regions – £70k

(2)(0)

lol

Lol shoosmiths

(2)(3)

Anon

2.5pqe Shoosmiths region offered £50k sept 21. (no bonuses)

(1)(0)

k

LEGAL CHEEK WEIL NOW PAYS 150K CHANGE YOUR SALARY LIST FOR THEM

(3)(0)

MDR

MDR
NQ: 78,000
1PQE: 82,000 – 88,000
2 PQE: 88,000 – 92,000
they start allocating tiers at 1 PQE.

(3)(0)

Bob

Who on earth is MDR

(6)(7)

Anon

Correction: trainee Sal is 83k. 1 PQE band is 83-87. 2 PQE 88-92.

(0)(0)

no idea what im doing

Bit of a side Q – what is the pay scale like for a junior barrister at a top commercial set (OEC, Brick, 3VB etc.)? More or less than their solicitor counterpart (MC + US Firms)?

(7)(4)

Chancery Junior

There is no pay scale at the Bar and earrings vary massively. One person, even at one of these premier sets could be on 200-300k in receipts at 5years in practice (which equates to ca. 170-255k in ‘salary’ terms) and another could be on double that. There are barristers I know of under 10yrs in practice who are near a million in receipts. It also varies year on year of course. Those who make partner in places like S&M and who get into equity in US firms will make more than many commercial barristers when they are in the 15-20yrs in practice range (when on the cusp on silk). There is then often a reset as you take silk, as you need to establish a new type of practice. However, the significant extra money you earn in those first 10yrs is highly valuable (especially if you have dumped it into a nice London pad). You also need to consider that those earnings are for a shorter work year (as the Bar tends to have quite long holidays).

(1)(0)

Quinn Emanuel

Quinn Emanuel:

Base salary (listed in GBP):
NQ £146k
1 PQE £154k
2 PQE £166k
3 PQE £189k
4 PQE £199k
5 PQE £214k
6 PQE £230k
7 PQE £240-260k

Bonuses at 7 PQE (listed in US$, so will vary per the exchange rate):
2100 hours – $115k
2400 hours – $138k
2700 hours – $155,250

Obviously, the bonuses are linked to PQE: I’ve listed the top end. Also, there were additional bonuses in 2021 for all US firms, as Covid money was being handed out as if cash was going out of fashion, but I think that was a one-off. The above rates are the standard. Happy to email Legal Cheek the above information from my work address for verification purposes should they create a proper comparative table listing all firms’ salaries and bonuses at each level of PQE (which Roll of Friday did many years ago, but then stopped). I think Legal Cheek *should* do this, as (a) it would be genuinely useful: many English firms are misleading their trainees and associates; and (b) it would increase page views and daily average users, and thus should help advertising revenue.

Finally, I’d strongly recommend QE: it’s interesting and friendly, and a lot more relaxed than the English firms at which I had previous experience.

(20)(0)

C

Shame QE don’t do TCs

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Say no to quantitative easing!

(2)(0)

got no vac schemes lol

MoFO scale anyone?

(1)(0)

Closing comments

Thank you all for your valuable contribution. Keep it coming! I totally agree with the points some colleagues (particularly QE @ 19/04, 9:34pm) have raised wrt why LC should gather and report this data. It’s evident from all the events that LC are putting up that they are starting to look out for not just students but also junior lawyers. This is their opportunity to take that up a notch and really make market-moving plays by doing real valuable work that’s not just re-wording and churning out salary increase articles.

LC – remember “magic circle” & “silver circle” were terms coined by a legal publication. They did the groundwork and their work is now referenced everywhere all the time. As previously alluded to by many, your play could not only benefit the juniors but could increase your bottom line as this would genuinely be groundbreaking and attract a lot of traffic. We appreciate all that you do, but let’s step it up. The junior community are with you and will truly appreciate this.

(22)(0)

Vccc

Why are vac schemes so hard to get? It’s just work experience at a firm lol

(2)(3)

Realist

Because they are the de facto entry pipeline into firms. It is extraordinarily expensive to recruit someone who eventually – after 2 years of the GDL and LPC, and a further 2-year TC – turns out to be rubbish. Therefore, the old-fashioned interview, or even the more expensive full-day assessment centre is a risk. Better to carefully select the people you think most promising based on the papers, and then invite them to a vac scheme, which is a de facto 2 week-long assessment centre.

(2)(0)

Legally blonde

Are vac schemes like hard to get? Hehe 🤭

(3)(2)

Kirkland 1pqe

$220k @ spot rate for this month = £178k.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Any one have a complete CC/ A&O payscale?

(2)(0)

Anon

Anyone got any realistic detail on Kennedys NQ salary (London and regional)?

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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