Linklaters increases newly-qualified lawyer pay to £125,000

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Exclusive: Matches Magic Circle rivals Clifford Chance and Freshfields

Linklaters has increased newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor pay to £125,000, Legal Cheek can reveal.

NQs in the London office have seen their salaries increase by 16% from £107,500 to £125,000 as of 1 May.

Linklaters pays trainees £50,000 in their first year, rising to £55,000 in their second year, meaning their salaries more than double upon securing an NQ position at the firm. This is just the base rate, with any bonus applied on top taking total NQ earnings to an even higher sum.

Links rookies are now remunerated the same as their peers at fellow Magic Circle firms Clifford Chance and Freshfields. Allen & Overy, meanwhile, pays NQs £107,500 upon qualification, whilst Slaughter and May pays £115,000, according to our 2023 Firms Most List.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

News of the pay rise comes almost one year on from when we exclusively revealed the firm told its juniors it won’t “rush” into matching the salaries offered by some of its closest rivals. It said at the time it’d consider “the impact of any changes and the wider economic context”.

In its latest financials the firm recorded revenues of £1.78 billion and a 5% increase in profit per equity partner (PEP) to £1.87 million.

Linklaters is one of the largest training contract providers in London, offering 100 places each year, topped only by Clifford Chance who provide 110.

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Second Seat Trainee begging for another pay war

Let the games begin…



Considering 10 years plus pqe criminal barristers who sleep little and fight in court everyday for people’s liberty aren’t even earning this, one wonders how these salaries, especially in current climate, could ever be justified. (Speaking as an impoverished and disgruntled criminal barrister.)



The world isn’t just buddy. It’s capitalist. Supply and demand sets the rates. That’s why premier league footballers get paid millions because there’s just a few of them while nurses get paid 30k if they’re lucky despite adding more “value” in substantive terms to society.



It can be justified very easily – corporate clients are willing to pay higher amounts per hour for legal services. Commercial law will always pay more than criminal law. This isn’t new or revolutionary. Money is exchanging hands between willing parties.

If criminal barristers want to make commercial rates they should have chosen a different career. If you want to sleep little and fight in court every day for people’s liberty, be a criminal barrister. If you want to make money, go into commercial law.


*T-money from Storage Hunters voice*




Ballsy move in this climate



Not really. They saved an entire year of expense by paying lower salaries than equivalent firms and even the likes of HSF and Bakers. This “raise” is just them now paying what was already market last year.


mAgIc CiRcLe

Hilarious to see “even the likes of HSF and Bakers”, as if they’re not both huge global firms that consistently act alongside and opposite Links, with HSF in particular viewed as a top tier firm.

I don’t understand this weird student fascination with Magic Circle/Silver Circle etc, it’s an outdated and defunct distinction that isn’t relevant to anyone except impressionable students and firms’ pr teams.

If you absolutely have to label and categorise firms, then “Global Elite” is where it’s at (which includes Links, Freshfields, A&O, CC, and HSF btw)



It’s not that deep. The point is Magic circle firms have traditionally always paid slightly more than other firms in London except for US. Links and a&o bucked that trend for the first time last year which shows how cheap they were considering their PEP is much higher than those firms.


SiLvEr CiRcLe

Spot the HSF Associate with a chip on their shoulder



Lol at trainees who think they are hot because they are at law firm X only to be chewed up and spat out in 3 years.


Acting for the W&I insurer isn’t working “alongside” the MC lol



Savage 😂


They did waste a lot of money on “practice innovation” though



What the article fails to mention is in order to do this they have bunched the associate salaries like crazy. 1PQ is now on £130k, 2PQ on 140k, 3PQ on 150k etc. Interested to see how this compares to other MC firms?



No it’s not, 1PQE is on £145k or something iirc.

Did you just make that up? You did, didn’t you.






Wrong! 2.5PQ is just above 145k



This “bunching” complaint is missing the point. Why should I care what the people a year below me are on now? What matters is what I am on compared to what I was on last year, the year before that, and the year before that. MC salary progression has been consistently strong because in addition to going up the PQE rungs each year, the whole thing has been moving up at a consistent pace every ~18 months for the best part of a decade.



You’re the one missing the point. What you should care is what you are on versus equivalent MC firms. They all make around the same profit so can afford to pay the same salary. If they are not then they are short changing you. The bunching effect means posting a headline nq rate but actually not giving associates equivalent raises. They are the ones you need to put more effort in to retain and much more valuable than an NQ. Some firms bunch much worse than others.


Surprised 2PQE Not At Links

Very surprised to see this in the current market and the very real uncertainty firms are facing in terms of work pipeline/potential downturn. I would be even more surprised if it leads to a wider salary war but who knows.

Will Links bonuses range from 20p to 30p to compensate?



The climate is good for full service law firms. Ftse clients like Bp and shell are making more money than ever right now and handing out great corporate and energy mandates. Inbound m&a from the states into Europe is about to explode. Disputes and insolvency are busier than ever. Chargeable Rates have been increased above inflation.

Your analysis needs to be sector specific not just “oh the bbc says there’s a cost of living crisis so the economy must be rubbish right now”.


Surprised 2PQE Not At Links

In fairness I don’t think I’m the first person to worry about the possibility of a recession. It seems to worry Jerome Powell and Andrew Bailey as well so I am in reasonably good company.

The word at my firm is that, whilst restructuring and disputes are undoubtedly busier, they are not sufficiently busy to compensate for the downturn in transactional work/compared to what they would be in a sharp downturn. The long-trailed downturn we were promised during COVID and again now has never quite come to pass.

I have no idea about inbound M&A but that feels speculative. The increased interest rates are certainly affecting activity in banking and finance, which is my own practice area. We are certainly not where we were in 2021 or 2022, although things are supposed to pick-up later in the year.

In that context, I do think it is surprising that we are seeing firms raise salaries – they can reward their BP and Shell teams via the bonus system if they feel the need 😉


Win Win

Of course Powell and Bailey are going to seem like they’re “worrying” about a recession… If we don’t get one? Great, they can say how we avoided one. If we do get one? They said it was coming, so won’t get stick for promising otherwise…



Salaries rose in fear that the US firms will swoop like hawks to poach talent. A short financial sacrifice to retain talent. Nor a bad deal for the NQ’s either



Office rumour is Ashurst raising to 120k to match HSF



Smart from links – save a year of expense by “considering” the decision only to match salaries other equivalent firms have already been paying for 12 months and counting. What’s going on at the other shops?



Any word from a&o on salaries? Assume they will have to at least match this.


Pay War Enjoyer

They just matched brev.



they just matched



They’ve just matched to 125k.


TheLawyer reader

Allen and Overy just increased to £125k as well. Wondering if there will be a response from CC and FF.



If freshfields raise to 140 or so they will break the internet. That was the previous US threshold for NQ pay a few years ago.


Freshfields incoming TC




A&O have also increased. confirmed.

Wonder if any other city firms will increase like TS or the shed?



Is this a good salary for those in their 20s and early 30s?



About average.



Average, people are so out of the reality



It’s obviously satire.



Do you think Mayer Brown will match soon?



Better than MJ Hudson 😉



Considering junior doctors about the same age as an NQ are currently fighting for 30k per annum i’d say it’s pretty decent…



anyone think DLA are gonna step up at some point? been a while, surely they’re losing talent??



It’s been confirmed that a pay rise is coming this summer but so far there are conflicting reports on what it will be, with the general expectation that it will be 98k-105k NQ and potentially more in higher hour departments.

The retention rate for the past 4+ years now has been pretty dire (NQ retention was <30% on two different occasions if you look six months after qualifying). Pretty much everyone who wanted to in transactional areas has left for Latham/Freshfields etc, a lot of advisory have gone in-house and entire teams have moved on together. It should be slightly better this year purely because lateralling is not as easy in the current market.

Knowing DLA they'll use the better retention to justify paying the same.



If DLA rise, the shed are deffo rising. Any news on Eversheds?


Mid level peasant

Just curious what is the salary like for a brand new minted partner at Links?



A cool million of the kings pounds assuming they are entitled to equity.


Mid level peasant

Do they have salary/equity tier or as soon as you are promoted you get the million bucks?



Links is equity only (bar a few exemptions in foreign jurisdictions for tax purposes)



Assuming you were a star performer and cracked partnership what kind of money are we talking as a baby partner? I have heard 350/400?

Links senior

@Anon 1:24 — 875k year one. There is no real non-equity at Links. 350/400 is more like top senior associate


Am I missing something here? £10k pa increase isn’t bad…



It’s not that links doesn’t want to match Freshfields, it’s that it genuinely cannot afford to after blowing millions on failed tech projects like CreateIQ and other idiotic tech projects with silly names where we pay over the odds in order to put out some press releases saying we build them when we can easily procure from outside like everyone else does.

The rainy fund is down by almost 250 mil in a few years and no partner wants to be there when it gets to negative.


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