CMS boosts trainee pay for second time this year and ups law school maintenance grants

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City rookies now start on £50k

CMS has increased salaries for trainees in London and the regions while also upping financial support for training contract holders.

The international law firm has increased year one rates in London to £50,000, an uplift of 7% from £46,725, while year two rookies will receive £55,000 — a bump of 5% from £52,250.

Trainee pay in Bristol now sits at £43,000 in year one, rising to £45,000 in year two, while their counterparts in Manchester and Sheffield receive £31,500 and £34,500. Rookie pay in Scotland has moved to £28,000 and £31,000.

The firm last increased trainee pay in March of this year.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2022 shows newly qualified (NQ) associates earn a base rate of £100,000 in London (following a rise earlier this summer) and £65,000 in Bristol. NQ pay in the regions and Scotland is currently set at £57,500.

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And it’s not just the firm’s trainees who are receiving a little extra — future rookies are too.

CMS confirmed maintenance grants for the Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL), Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) have increased from £7,500 to £10,000 in London, and from £5,000 to £7,500 for those studying elsewhere.

CMS recruits around 95 trainees each year, following a hike last summer which made it the second highest training contract provider in the UK. Linklaters sits in top spot with 100 TCs annually.

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If firms like CMS are now paying MC 1st yr and 2nd yr trainee rates and SC NQ rates, both need to change slightly to continue to differentiate their firms.

MC trainees should be on say 57k and 62k. SC on 52k and 57k and then NQ rates for the SC should be at least 115/120k. But the MC, well, doesn’t look like any movement for the time being.

I used to look down on firms like CMS but they are really putting their money where their mouth is nowadays…


Lool these MC firms finessed you

That’s why looking down on city firms is BS, who’s really the 🤡 when the supposed better firms are only paying marginally more but more crazy hours, so whose the real winner here? Lol


Wise gal

MC trainees get paid in prestige fresher. Algae filled swimming pools and sustainable canapés > equal salary at a mid tier shop.



MC, SC and large international trainees have always been paid the same over the years. I don’t see that changing anytime solm



Wow, CMS really doing bits these days, pay more than ES and DLA now. Wonder who will rise next?


There was a time

RIP the MC, there was a time you were a king.



If the hours are still bettter than the SC and MC then CMS have won big timee



If like these MS, SC titles are obsolete now can’t lie


Sleep deprived

My dearest wish is for Legal Cheek commenters, some of whom have clearly never spent longer than a fortnight in a law firm, to stop saying that hours are better at lesser regarded firms than they are at the MC or SC. If you’re in a transactional area, your hours will be long and probably awful no matter which firm you’re in. It literally doesn’t matter if you’re at Kirkland versus CMS, if you’re on a transaction which needs to complete in 2 weeks, you will work until 2 am regularly. Please stop peddling this silly myth that you can have your cake (good money) and eat it too (decent hours). You can’t. It’s not going to happen in City law.



Well, clearly if you’re not on the same deals as Kirkland, you won’t be working the same hours as them. Also I’m not talking about strictly transactional areas…it’s a fact that CMS will not be working the same hours on a long term basis at Kirkland. There’s a kind of reason why they say US firms work longer hours…


CMS Associate

CMS Corporate Transactions associate here. Yes – obviously when you’re coming up to completion you are working into the early hours and probably equivalent to US shops. But in general the hours are much better. Can regularly leave at 5 if not busy, work about 1 weekend every 2 months. Holidays pretty well respected. It’s a good deal.



The ONLY REASON, this may be the case is that there are fewer associates at Kirkland than at CMS. Way more hands at CMS thus fewer hours.



In advisory I think you can have cake and eat it, regularly.



This is also a myth. If you’re in disputes you can be working till 1am relentlessly every day for months if on a busy matter with no end in sight. Even advisory seats like tax you can get calls at 2am from corporate colleagues as they need you to revert asap on a tax point in their docs. People need to stop peddling myths that there’s any east ride at these firms.


SC Advisory

SC advisory lawyer here. If any corporate colleagues tried to ring me at 2am (which they don’t), they’d get my voicemail as I would be safely tucked up in bed getting my beauty sleep.


2PQE advisory at £105k+ firm

I’m set to hit 1500 hours this year and my main problem with work is that I’ll be opening a SIPP to keep my taxable income below £100k.

A delicious and never-ending cake.



The above is what you get doing advisory at a cravath scale US firm, at SC life will obviously be a lot better. But the idea that it’s some sort of hack to take cravath salary and do no work by taking an advisory role is a myth.



Tax at any decent law firm is not an “advisory seat”.



It is also untrue to be peddling the myth that all is the same. At the like of Kirkland you will be working on all your holidays , expected to respond to client emails within minutes whether sent at 2am or over the weekend and generally have to work more due to the leaner deal teams and lack of junior/business support. Those expectations are not the same at MC/SC firms where you have dozens of associates at different levels and a different working culture. Obviously remuneration is a lot less and that is all part of the choice you have to make.



Your “dearest wish”. Wow you live a sheltered life.


Barney the tree

Shoosmiths pays the same as CMS in the regions and 87k in London.

There’s no way someone at Shoosmiths is working the same as someone at Kirkland or even MC



Oh yeah Shoosmiths will work same hours at Kirkland then 😂


Kirkland NQ

The only shoosmith I know about is the one who makes my bespoke calfskin loafers.


DLA Insider

DLA now paying 34k to first year trainees in the regions and £8750 maintenance grants 🤑



Do you know how much second years are getting?


Wanna know DLA

Will they increase NQ salaries for London office?



I find it quite interesting – where is DWF in all this salary news? Very noteworthy how quiet upper management is…

DWF salaries are now reflecting more regional shops, now that the bigger shops (that DWF tries to compete with) has increased theirs…

I very much doubt they will bridge the gap… and to think how much money the stock listing brought us…



I don’t think DWF have ever disclosed their salaries.

I’m going to guess they probably are under 80k in London and 50k in regions If they won’t even disclose it



A friend of mine is at DWF and said they heard:
– 82k in London
-52k in the regions
Plus shares



That’s a lot of walla for DWF – especially in London. The “plus shares” addition is a bit of a con to me, especially as they are shares in DWF.

If they do meet these salaries – then bravo. Fair play.

I’d say more like 72k tops in London and 45k in regions or thereabouts.



You can add £2k to both of these figures for corporate/commercial/banking and knock a chunk off for insurance.



ES or DLA let’s hopefully raise soon, don’t be stingy. Particularly you ES because you’re doing well recently



DLA raised to £105k in July.



Lies re DLA no they didn’t..



Has NRF increased trainee salaries as part of their latest salary review?


Considering My Salary

When did Scottish salaries go up? If true then people here would definitely consider the move.


Considering My Salary

When did Scottish salaries go up? If true then people here would definitely consider the move.


Current DLA

Nah they didn’t.


DLA Insider #2

London base NQ is now £100k+ (some teams have a higher rate, Corporate NQ is £104-£105k.

LPC Grants have been raised to £12.5k in London.



Then why salaries news not released yet for DLA? If that’s the case ES should at least be on 100k NQ too, they have higher PEP


DLA insider #3

That also isn’t quite correct, there are definitely NQs in some departments who get paid less than 100k (or 1-2pqes who are getting robbed).


Please confirm

Can any ES insiders confirm of any salary increases?


ES London Associate

No increase at ES and I wouldn’t expect one either until next summer. They raised in May this year reluctantly and have failed to match CMS who increased further to 100k (previously ES and CMS were neck and neck). The target hours have also increased by 50 this year and a further 50 for FY 23/24.



Ahh that’s a shame, hoping they would increase too



But why haven’t they? Surely they can afford it?



Because Sheds are tight and always will be



Well if they continue being tight people will leave


What’s Pinsets saying?



Nothing, they don’t exist



They dragged their heals until they finally raised for the first time during the pay war a few months ago.

I wouldn’t expect Pinsents to raise salaries for at least another 9 – 12 months.

Still decent whack though, both London and regionally



92k is decent whack?


Big boy

Gotta say CMS has stepped up in recent years. They smashed their revenue targets and accordingly awarded their fee-earners.


Paying more?

Who’s paying more DLA or Sheds?


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