Bakers boosts NQ lawyer salaries to £110,000

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City firms continue to up pay 📈

Baker McKenzie has increased base salaries for newly qualified (NQ) associates in London to £110,000.

The move marks a £5,000 or 5% uplift, with rates previous pegged at £105,000 following a hike in December. Bakers recruits around 33 trainees annually.

Trainee pay remains unchanged — £50,000 in year one, rising to £55,000 in year two — though Legal Cheek recently revealed the firm will pay an additional £4,000 to its future trainees experiencing financial difficulties while studying the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The extra cash, dubbed ‘Baker Boost’, is on top of the standard £10,000 maintenance grant.

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Baker McKenzie’s London managing partner Ed Poulton said: “At Baker McKenzie, we believe in rewarding in a fair, consistent and competitive manner. The attraction, retention and development of our people is key to the success of our firm and is at the heart of our strategy.”

He added: “Alongside a competitive salary, fantastic career development opportunities and an extensive package of employee benefits, we are proud to also offer our people the opportunity to work in an inclusive workplace where they can be themselves and thrive.”

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Curious 2 PQE

Anyone know what the salary bunching is like further up the PQE ladder?


SilverC Senior

I’m at a similar firm, paying similar rates and I’m almost at the ceiling for associate pay at 6PQE.

The only incentive my firm offers is that you can get an extra 10-15% bonus at the more senior levels, but after tax that’s fuck all anyway.

Mid-levels are getting shafted as your hourly rate is likely 50% higher than an NQ but your hours targets are relatively unchanged and you don’t get paid 50% more.


Baker 6PQE

£135K at 6PQE



So yeah pretty bunchy



I don’t understand the logic in bunching. NQs aren’t that difficult to recruit but 2-5 PQE lawyers are hard to retain. Surely it makes more sense to boost the salaries in these PQE brackets?



6PQE at £135k!?
At US firms 6 PQE on K&E/Goodwin/Akin etc are at £290 + c£100k bonus.
Very deceptive by UK firms…


Burnt out BM Associate

3PQE – 120k



I’ve heard it’s quite severe


Bakers'a Bunchin

Is HL pretty similar in that regard?


No grapes

Nope – about 8k – 10k between each PQE at HL



1.5PQE still being paid the NQ rate of £105k that was announced back in March. When I asked HR whether they got my class wrong they just said they just moved everyone into the same pay bucket without taking into account his / her PQE.

Frankly I never expected to make big bucks by working in this firm but if you are telling me there is no difference whatsoever (not even nominal) in the compensation between an NQ and someone who has had 1/2 years of experience, I find this to be a joke given arguably a lawyer’s worth is essentially entirely driven by his / her experience in the profession / seniority.


Titanic FBD

I think this just confirms that (1) FBD is the most Titanic of the magic circle firms in terms of pay (2) Links and A&O are a joke.

How can a firm like Baker McDonalds pay more than magic circle…



Pay war gotten so crazy this is only worth 14 comments. A&O right, I smell blood in the streets now too



CC pays the same salaries as FBD but better bonuses now.


Sucks to suck

Rip Anal & Ovary and Stinklaters


Winthrop Thistlehurst

Absolutely embarrassing for A&O that Bakers have overtaken them on NQ pay. No reason for their junior fee earners to stay on if they can get higher pay AND a better work life balance at SC/national firms (to say nothing of US salaries for the workaholics).


Legal Very Cheeky

Any sense in A&O that there will be a u-turn from the partnership or is it a case of doubling down?

A crazy decision if there’s no reversal given the moves made by SC firms since.



More than a&o and links


Watch this space

Expect to see Silver circle follow..

I sense Macs matching HSF tho for some reason…



Agreed, this is a real chance for the Silver Circle to get regain that sense of being premium and prestigious. Macs, TS, and Ashurst should all just raise to 120k minimum. If HSF can do it they can, or else they’re being cheap.

Separates them from the likes of mass-produced shops like Bakers, DLA, Eversheds etc and (as for now) also beats most of the MC.



Macs defo should. Only around 30 trainees and PEP at over 2m…



Macfarlanes is honestly probably the stingiest firm out there when you really think about it.

Insane PEP, few trainees, and the lowest overheads out of most city firms (one main office).

They could be a market powerhouse/super elite if they just said screw it and paid NQs like 130/140k.


Mac Attack

Macs has had a pay review as of 2 weeks ago, results not out yet though


Macs Killjoy

Macs NQ 107.5



That’s low if it’s true


Cheap Baker

This is just a figure for the sake of a headline isn’t it. Hardly any difference between 105k and 110k in terms of take home pay. Need this type of firm and the silver circle to be at LEAST 120k to be truly competitive .


Appeasing the Masses




EXACTLY, not impressed at all





Kirkland NQ

Extremely cute.



3PQE – £145K

Less bunching at A&O, but agreed it is a poor showing from the ‘MC’ firm. It is very likely they will make a U-turn on their decision fairly shortly, if at least to surpass S&M at NQ level if for nothing else.


CC Associate

It’s comical, as someone who is actually in practice, to see these comments about SC firms ‘overtaking’ Links and A&O. Associates at both the aforementioned MC firms earn a far larger bonus and are not subject to severe salary bunching (like that which is found at HSF, Bakers, etc.). Whilst I admit it is strange they have not raised to match their traditional competitors, their total comp for NQ associates and above will undoubtedly be higher than the SC firms. For example, I know a 3PQE at HSF earning £130,000 (a mere £10,000 more than the NQ rate). Compare this to a 3PQE at Links and I would bet everything I own that, even without raising, they earn more.

Whilst I appreciate NQ salaries are the only information we are given access to, it is silly to make such statements about firms losing relevance when, in reality, the magic circle firms still give far larger bonuses and annual wage increases that the silver circle firms. That being said, it is not a good look for Links and A&O in the current climate.

TLDR; MC firms pay far larger bonuses and aren’t as susceptible to salary bunching. Links and A&O still earn more post qualification than associates at SC firms.



Very pompous way of writing – many commas and unnecessary words. Surprised it wasn’t picked up by your supervisors as a trainee.



Good to see the MC Associate has missed the point.



Bakers is not SC really. They matched HSF at £105k – why the £10k difference now?


Speaking as a dude, laser hair removal down there is the Truth

CC, FBD are 125.
Slaughters actually I think ups from 115 to 117.5 or 120 at the six month mark. But it alleges other perks. No targets (hmmm) and 30 days holiday. Given any difference between the 115 and 125 is all going into pension anyway else it would be super taxed, would I take the extra week as salary sacrifice? Not willingly because like most lawyers I have nothing to live for, but begrudgingly I would and it would probably be good for mental health.
Then HSF and Lovells are quasi top dogs of the silver circle – I’m sure Lovells will follow HSF quickly. Macs will follow to 120 too. Travers and Ashurst will do their best to postpone it as long as possible. Travers will probably say we’re going to 115 in September, but we’re also introducing free Kit Kats in the canteen!! Ashurst will say, 120k…heh, cute – we’ll go to 125k…(in January 2023). Silver typically salary bunch in 5k from PQE to PQE, as do Bakers.
Bakers are typically below silver – they made their headline move to 105 (like Ashurst which was very off market for Ashurst) well in 2022, despite announcing it in 2021. Mayer Brown and Reed Smith will probably go to 115, if they don’t match.

So A&O and Links have to increase…but their reputation is forever tarnished. Particularly if you’re a good associate churning through your hours, there’s no way anyone who can move isn’t looking. It’s such an own goal.



Blimey but as long as money good right 😵‍💫🥴



HL isn’t considered the “top dogs“ at anything



Rejection email defo came through this morning



Bakers below SC?? Its below MC sure


A&O senior associate

I’m seriously contemplating a move to any firm including third rate shop like Bakers. As a diligent SA I’m only paid a modest £160k. The partners cited economic uncertainty and gave me a shite 10% bonus, notwithstanding my 1850 billable hours which are 100 above target at A&O and loads of training/business development. This MC dream is complete bollocks.


Ex A&O associate

I switched to a US firm about 18 months ago and now I’m making in excess of £250k (without counting bonus) with possibly less PQE than you are. Hours are way more punishing though, with virtually no real break as I’m often required to work including my recent trip to Thailand (6-8 hours/day during annual leave – not excessive but it did ruin my sightseeing plans).


Mr Smith




6-8 hours a day on holiday is definitely bloody excessive

i’ve probably not worked 6-8 hours on holiday full stop in almost 4 years at CC


“Not excessive”

Ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?


Jimbo the Crimbo

Sell your soul… get a devil of a deal!

Criminal barrister here.

Skint but loving the day job.

Can’t have it all, Buddy!




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