Bird & Bird nudges NQ lawyer pay above £92k

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5% rise from £88k

Bird & Bird has increased salaries for its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London.

Fresh faced associates at the international outfit will now earn a base salary of £92,400, a rise of 5% from £88,000. The uplift is effective 1 December 2022.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most 2023 shows Bird & Bird recruits around 18 trainees each year on a starting salary of £45,000. Year two rookies earn £50,000.

The new and improved rate means the firm’s NQs are now £400 better of than their counterparts at Dentons, Fieldfisher, Gowling WLG and Pinsent Masons. The likes of Addleshaw Goddard, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and DLA Piper sit just ahead on £95,000.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

“We are constantly looking at our employee salaries, wider offerings and packages to ensure we remain competitive,” a firm spokesperson told Legal Cheek. “Our people are our biggest asset and one of our priorities is to nurture our culture in the London office and make sure we provide our people with a career path that can help them succeed.”

“We have continued to review our salaries and although we are conscious of the economic headwinds our business continues to grow strongly,” they added.

Earlier this year Bird & Bird was one of number of firms to pay one-off bonus to its London staff to help with rising living costs. As reported by Legal Cheek at the time, the payment was made to those with a salary of £50,000 or less and amounted to £1,000 net of tax and national insurance.

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Meme firm






Embarrassing that Pinsents and Dentons pays below Bird & Bird!

For the work life balance Bird & Bird offers and the specialist technology work, not a bad deal at all.



What’s the work/life balance like at B&B? And their target hours?



I have just ran these numbers through a salary calculator which shows that at A&O and Linklaters you now get around £500 more net pay a month (the only number that matters) than at bird and bird as an NQ.


Barney the tree

That is very interesting.

On the one hand, an extra £500 a month is quite a big deal to someone in their mid 20s. It’s a good cushion and means you can save quite a bit.

On the other hand, is it really worth the additional workload and limitation of free time?



I think the answer to your second question is quite simply no. Losing evenings and weekends for an extra £100 a week simply isn’t worth it. Now for the extra few grand a month at a US firm becomes more of a serious question dependent on personal preference.


Legal Eagle

Higher gross salary = higher employer pension contributions and greater scope to max out that £40k pension contribution maximum before your gross gets so high that you’re restricted to max £4k contribution. It’s not just about the net salary figures.


Realist at US firm

Only people who are mad enough to work at a MC firm are those very very middle class people with wealthy parents who were told they were god’s gift from Day 1 and throughout their private schooling/attendance at Durham, but who aren’t actually bright enough to work out they could either work at a US firm for higher salaries or at a place like Bird & Bird for similar pay but fewer hours…

The future of the Magic Circle depends on these sorts of people not realising they’re getting utterly shafted and thinking that the ‘prestige’ actually means diddly squat.


Calm down

Or they’re using it as a pivot to a firm of their choice surely? They seem like a better place to *train* than a number of the US firms.

I have less clarity in understanding the long term stayers at MC though, I agree with you there


Surprised and Dismayed

Wow. That really puts it in perspective



Lool wonder who’s next to rise



Wait so the difference between A&O and Links and birds is a measly £500? Tf

MC is truly dead



Well no. The difference between A&O/Links and Birds about £15,000 at NQ level (the gap grows precipitously the more senior you go, particularly once bonuses are factored in), plus the unparalleled post-qualification training (whatever people on this site think, training doesn’t stop the day you qualify, and having exposure to a regular stream of different kinds of deals is absolutely invaluable), plus the extraordinary in-house and lateral exit opportunities that having a magic circle name on your CV gives you.

Nobody’s saying that Birds won’t give you a better quality of life, or conversely that Kirkland won’t give you significantly more money, but there are a lot of very convincing reasons why people stay at MC firms. It truly takes a mixture of stupidity and arrogance to look at all the extremely bright and capable mid-level lawyers at the Magic Circle and think: “Ha, what idiots! I’ve managed to figure something out that these morons haven’t even thought about! I can’t believe they’ve not all left!”



Yeah, whatever keeps you motivated turning those docs in every night bro 😂😂



If I was as mid level MC lawyer, I would move to a US firm. So yes, they are stupid.



I’m currently in my first year attending open days to understand the field. I had the view before that I want to end up at magic circle/US firms. However, after speaking to trainees and associates at these firms about their work and specifically “what are the hours like”, I can honestly say these firms are not for me. There are numerous firms like the above doing similar work but with a much more friendlier culture and reasonable working hours. As salaries approach equilibrium, work/life balance becomes a key selling point.


Kirkland NQ

Lol I wouldn’t dare pay my maid that little.



Thats unlucky that you have to pay your maid… I mean given that half your salary is slashed over it.


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