A&O matches Links with £125k NQ lawyer salary

By on

MC firm opted not to increase last year citing ‘challenging’ economic conditions

Allen & Overy has increased newly qualified (NQ) lawyer salaries to £125,000, matching the level of pay at Magic Circle rivals Clifford Chance, Freshfields and, as we exclusively revealed this afternoon, Linklaters.

NQs in the London office have seen a 16% pay increase from £107,500 to £125,000 as of 1 May, the firm confirmed.

It comes almost one year on from when the firm told its juniors they won’t be getting a pay rise due to “challenging” economic conditions. It last increased NQ pay to £107,500 in November 2021.

Slaughter and May, the remaining Magic Circle member, pays £115,000 upon qualification.

A&O offers around 90 training contracts each year and pays trainees £50,000 in their first year, rising to £55,000 in their second year.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List


MC 4pqe

Winter is coming…



Please elaborate



What’s the new associate scale like at a&o? Links is very bunched.



Also very bunched. Much lower raise at the higher pqe end and bands apply across multiple pqes meaning no guaranteed increase.



Do you think Mayer Brown will match soon? Arent they pegged to the MGC?



Some teams are (finance).



Key takeaway from all this is freshfields is by far the best firm when it comes to salaries in the MC. First to raise to 100k. Only one that didn’t cut salaries for covid. First to raise to 125k. Good spacing between bands and good bonus system.






Any predictions on whether they’ll raise again?


Barney the tree

Doubt it. The lateral market has calmed down quite a bit since the pay war.

This is just AO and Links playing catch up.

Might see a SC or City firm make a move but I think the MC are gonna stay at £125k for a while now.


Numbers lover

How long would you say is ‘a while’? They have to keep adjusting for inflation right?


Barney the tree

Probs 12 months.

Pay war watcher

Is Slaughter & May going to increase too or are they just going to try to coast on “prestige”?


functional brain

I don’t think they really have a choice seeing as they’re the only one under 125 now



Freshfields £140k cooking



I’m hearing that Slaughter and May are going to £150k…



Yeah maybe for 5PQE


Reality Gal 65

Wild. Magic circle is still not worth it whatsoever. Let me explain the reality.

It is a life suited to drones who revel in surrendering their life to superiors, those who enjoy being pulled from pillar to post for meaningless admin and those who enjoy diarising their time in 6 minute daily intervals in the hope they might hit “target”.

For starters, in London, your £125,000 advertised take home pay is sliced in half after tax. To add insult to injury, your tax paid is pointless when you realise you pay Nordic levels of tax for developing world level services. (No NHS, no tube, no trains etc). Then, to be added on top like an off date cherry, you pay the fraudulent 9% mandatory student loan repayment – which barely pays off principal given the insidious interest rates rising in line with RPI. Laughably, if you are a NQ at many firms they (purposefully?) put you in the death zone of earning between 100k and 120k so you pay a defacto 60% tax when you lose your personal allowance. This demoralising set of circumstances will be your first realisation – but it gets worse. Much worse.

So, the 40% of the advertised salary which you ACTUALLY take home is then whittled down further to pay a cool ~£1.5k on rent. Nice. (Oh, you still have to live with others like a student despite being a “hot shot”). Don’t forget to include the sky high bills. Oh, and food – which you inevitably will waste due to lack of a consistent home time. And council tax. And the TV licence. Then, all those subscriptions which rise with RPI – phone, internet, Netflix, Spotify, Gusto etc – you get the picture.

So, now you are left with circa 20% of your take home. (Remember, you love London and this life is amazing and was worth the PPE degree!) This 20% is then flittered away on “living a life which you thought was commensurate with being a high flying lawyer in London”. This varies from pointless fashion to impress coworkers you resent, to illegal narcotics, to expensive fitness classes to dilute the boredom of everyday London life. Maybe you go on a few dates which you rearranged 19 times. Everyone you meet in law for the most part is self centred, vacuous and mildly depressed.

So, after this through breakdown, you might save 10% if you are a real hero. Let’s call that £1.5k if you are really prudent. Bro, you work like a dashhound and are hardly covering your £20k a year ISA allowance…

Then, you have London itself. What can you do with your mighty 20% of take home?! It has the unique combination of awful weather, awful politics, crumbling public services, impossible to obtain restaurants and a rapidly devaluing currency.






Damn you’re right let me just move to newcastle I heard CC has an office there



You can really just distil your comment into a demonstration of how the high tax rates here in this country disincentivise hard work. This is perhaps one reason (among many) why US GDP per capita is literally 60% higher than the UK and median incomes in the US are 50% higher.



Odd reality you describe. Your take home should be around £5k or a little over even if you lump everything over £100k into your pension. You talk about stuff like Netflix rising with RPI – that is immaterial and doesn’t matter. Just take off £1.5k for rent and bills (in a flat share, suck it up for a couple of years you’re still junior in your career as an NQ) that is still £3.5k left to play with. You can easily live off £2k and save £1.5k a month, but those figures could be reversed. It won’t take you too long to save up a deposit to put down a deposit to buy a nice little 2 bed flat for ~£500k on that salary. If you buy with a partner then you can get somewhere a bit fancier or just by sooner.


Out of interest

Where are you getting these nice 2 bed flats in London for 500k?



From a very cursory look at Google Maps you might want to look at Greenwich, Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Lambeth, Vauxhall, Brixton, Crystal Palace, Battersea, Tooting, Putney, Wimbledon, Walthamstow, Finchley, Ealing.


functional brain

These actually aren’t too bad. Putney is especially nice, so I’m surprised thats here – and itll be good for the oxbridge associates especially for proximity to the boat race. The commute from Wimbledon would finish you off, though.


The only nice places there where you could realistically commute to the office are Greenwich and battersea. As part of the regeneration in both areas prices for 2 bed flats are now in the millions. Several of the areas you mention like Lambeth, Brixton, palace, Bermondsey are total crime ridden dumps. The others are all too far out for an associate, acceptable when you can afford a house there as a partner who can run their own commuting schedule.



You can buy a house in the home counties for £500k with a commute of 1 hour, so there is no need to buy or live in London! You don’t need to be a partner to run your commuting schedule. Most associates start c9-9.30am, so don’t need to leave their home in the commuter belt until 8am and they’d be at their desk by then. There are plenty of flats to rent in the commuter belt for the same price as a room in a shared house in London.


This screams entitlement and first world problems. At 125k your salary is in the top 3 per cent of incomes in the country for all ages. Probably in the top 0.1 per cent when you just count early to mid twenty somethings. You’re living and working in one of the richest and most developed free countries in the world. You can afford things others can only dream of. Designer clothes, 5 star holidays, Michelin star dining. Out of the 8 billion people on planet earth only a tiny fraction of even more fortunate people wouldn’t kill to be in your shoes.



This idea that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world is a collective delusion that the British public lives under and was one of the delusions that led to Brexit. While the UK may have a large aggregate economy, the UK’s per capita GDP is 26th in the world. In reality, we are one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Median income in the UK is the same as it was in 2009. 14 years with no income growth in the UK, while house prices have continued to spiral upwards. UK median household income is lower than France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, Ireland.



Okay but within that “large aggregate economy” you are congregated in the very top percentiles. So your relative purchasing power is far higher than 97% of the general public. And 125k is a stellar salary worldwide that at age 24 would put you in the very top percentiles globally with the exception of a few extreme outliers like Monaco.



You have missed the point mate. If you read my comment again nowhere did I insinuate that £125k was not a good salary for someone in their early 20s. I was instead criticising the completely baseless arrogance of much of this country evinced by the throwaway comment that the UK is one of the “richest and most developed free countries” in the world. The reality instead is a Britain of mouldy homes, non-existent public transport outside of London, persistent double-digit inflation, and an unproductive and sclerotic economy that leads to the law being one of the few money-making pursuits that people in this country have available to them.


You speak like someone who hasn’t travelled much. You’ve listed a few other elite European and Asian countries and compared the uk to them. Go to the third world and see how lucky you are. And out of those elite countries – the working culture in Asia is absolutely terrible. The US is riddled with problems on a far greater scale than we can comprehend. The Scandinavian states suffer from extreme climate and darkness and far more boring places to live despite excellent public services. My point is everywhere has its own problems but people like you living in the uk are much luckier than they realise.


Imagine spending this long to write such a garbage post. Cheers



And in 5 years, your £125k will be £250k…

Clearly you have regrets, but there are very few jobs in Europe, let alone the UK, they offer the type of salary progression that the big City firms have done since the GFC. I’ll grant you it isn’t for everyone but the idea we’re all secretly-depressed narcissists is a lazy trope indeed.


not financial advice

(1) Don’t pay £1.5k on rent. Suck it up. Get in a flatshare somewhere in the east end. Nobody is forcing you to live in a drab American Psycho box block in Stratford.
(2) Pay off student loan ASAP because it’s high-interest and you’ll pay it off in the long run anyway. 9% marginal rate disappears a few years later.
(3) Don’t fritter money away on pointless subscriptions and overpriced mediocre restaurants. Read a book or go to the park.
(4) Don’t buy drugs, you’re not a student anymore.

Then you can save plenty of money and buy yourself a nice flat before you’re 30. Everyone else manages on much less!


Latham & Watkins 2PQE

it’s spelt ‘dachshund’ you peasant.


Just saying

Still not worth it compared to what? Not earning a good salary at?When it comes to higher salaries and higher taxes, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. While it’s true that higher salaries can lead to higher tax rates, it’s also important to remember that higher salaries can provide more financial stability and security, which can help to improve overall quality of life. Additionally, higher salaries can provide more opportunities for savings and investments, which can help to build long-term wealth and financial independence. It’s also worth considering that taxes are used to fund important public services and infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and roads, which can benefit everyone in the community. While it’s understandable to be concerned about taxes, it’s important to consider the many benefits that higher salaries can provide, both in the short-term and the long-term.



ChatGPT spotted in the wild!


Who riding next ? - shed, DLA, Ashurst?

Okay, whatevs – who’s rising next?



Hoglove 👑



Doubt HL, didn’t they rise recently. I reckon it’ll be shed or Ashurst soon


Antitrust Merchant

Do A&O think they have done enough here to hold on to their staff for the next year?

I can’t wait for STB to knock NQ to £185k in November just to rub in on how far behind the MC is.


Just saying'

Classic coordination between A&O and Links. At some stage someone should ask how two completely independent firms reach startlingly similar conclusions on pay nearly all the time.


This has been going on a while

Classic coordination between A&O and Links. At some stage someone should ask how two completely independent firms reach startlingly similar conclusions on pay nearly all the time.



Bakers, time to step up


Slaughtered and Dismayed

The year is 2042. After another straight year of record revenues, Slaughters’ partners have announced that they are considering a pay rise for NQs to £120k, noting ‘We believe this recent pay bump, in addition to our unique culture, places us well above our rivals like Taylor Wessing and Osborne Park, despite their most recent NQ raises to £220k’



Hopefully by that time chap gpt will be the new lawyers lol


Kirkland nq

Aw cute



Cute, but you work more hours for just a few amount extra after tax Lool


Kirkland nq

If £25k after tax is just a few amount then sure



I’m 4 PQE at akin and have been living at home since 21 and I don’t pay any bills. I’m hopping to semi-retire in the next few years through passive income and my savings.



Retire and keep living at your parents house? What kind of lifestyle is that as a grown man/woman presumably approaching 30. The fact you don’t pay any bills is because you’ve been handed a lucky card from rich parents who happen to live in London and are still subsidising you even while you’re on six figures.



Sour grapes mentality alert *SHART*



Hands I was I dealt, soz lool. And obviously the plan by then I would’ve moved out. It’s worked for me so far so I’m happy.


US counsel

My firm has been receiving loads of CVs from A&O/Links/the Slaughterhouse and that says a lot. The truth is you get the same level of professional training and career progression but for more pay at an elite US firm. A&O will soon have less associates than Latham.


Comments are closed.

Related Stories