Macfarlanes pushes NQ lawyer pay to £115k

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7% rise from £107.5k

City law firm Macfarlanes has increased salaries for its newly qualified (NQ) associates in London.

Junior lawyer pay now sits at £115,000, plus individual and firmwide bonuses. This marks a 7% uplift from £107,500.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows Macs now offers the same NQ base rate as Slaughter and May, which we reported yesterday had opted to keep NQ salaries as they are (for now) following a recent review. This move came despite the firm now being the only member of the Magic Circle not to offer newbie associates a salary of £125,000.

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Macfarlanes recruits around 33 trainees each year on a starting salary of £50,000, rising to £55,000 in year two.

Earlier this year it recorded a perfect 100% spring retention score with all six trainees staying put on permanent deals.

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Whos next to increase??? Trainees please say your Chinese whispers


CC to 150

Roger rab

FF to 250


II to 350

CMS Associate

CMS raising to 117.5k


Is there a reason trainee salary has barely budged during all these pay wars?

Given the London cost of living nowadays it seems like it would be a cost-effective way to provide a minor boost in attracting legal talent who want a slightly more comfortable life their first 2 years, even an increase to 55k year 1 and 60k year 2 would put you ahead of all the major UK firms

Uncharitable Fellow

There are 200+ applicants per trainee place at high level firms, most of whom have very good academics and/or legal experience. The bottleneck in the profession is good training, which is why NQs from top firms are so sought after (and is what drives the salary war).


That makes sense, so do you think when comparing work of NQs the quality of the training is significantly more important than the intelligence/talent/characteristics that they already held as trainees?

If so I understand why attracting top talent as trainees is less important than using the money for NQ pay wars


The job really isn’t that intellectually taxing, save for some niche practice areas. Quality of training, organisation, resilience, communication skills are all probably more important.


It’s not just that – NQ salaries in London are now effectively benchmarked against the standard US rate, which has led to dramatic increases at non-US firms, but the US market doesn’t have trainees (so nothing to benchmark against at that level).


This takes for granted the fact that firms enjoy 200 applicants per TC, even though that is only the case because of high pay to begin with. If a lesser known firm began offering competitive NQ salaries and leading TC salaries, applicants would shift away from the previously-oversubscribed TCs.

The NQ market is not so different from the TC market in terms of dynamics – the real change is in terms of key qualifications and the ability to shortlist more reliably (you don’t need an AC to know if an NQ is competent. There are more cost-effective ways of vetting).

Anonymouse below advances a more convincing argument for why TC salaries aren’t so competitive.

Lady from HR





No need to. No one looks at trainee salary when applying it’s all about NQ.


Fully agree I’m wondering why though. Can’t say I didn’t say the same but if you earn 5,000 more as trainee or 5,000 more as NQ it’s the same. Arguably more because of tax rates.

You could argue that higher NQ = higher PQE but with how secretive firms are with banding I guess that’s just an assumption.


Not even the same – 5,000 on a TC might not be taxed as much as that same 5,000 as an NQ raise.


£50k is an excellent starting salary for many who have never even held a job before (yes of course some students work during uni, but many I’ve met from privileged backgrounds do not). Increasing trainee salaries would be at the detriment of trained lawyers and business professionals when frankly they don’t deserve it/aren’t worth it yet. I sympathise with the cost of living point for some grads but not really for those trainees already on over double the minimum wage…


Lol, no you’re a trainee for a reason


Akin Gum to 190k for NQs allegedly


and I have a can of magic beans to sell you


Which law firms that are currently in the 90s as NQ are increasing to 100k and more?

Magic Orb Man

Let me check, one sec.

Dentons 5PQE

Not Dentons obvs. We would be due another uplift on collapse of the monetary system where it no longer has value.


Have they announced internally if they’re raising pay this year? Thought they were gonna do a review in May

Dentons 5PQE



What do Faegre Drinker pay as an NQ?


£125k. Same as CC and FF but less bunching for higher PQE


Cap Faegre Drinker do not pay that lol

A hilarious individual

You’re drinking what now?


Absolutely pathetic from slaughters. Now paying less than some silver circles like hsf and matched by macs. Prestige doesn’t pay bills sadly. And you have to work with arrogant oafs which is deserving of more pay if anything.


115k and still can’t buy my mansion…


Hogan Lovells now look like they are paying their NQs peanuts


I wonder when HL will announce there increase?


Won’t matter to you with spelling like that.

Rumour has it

HL NQ to 115k


Source: incoming vacation schemer at Legal Cheek Summer 2023 Virtual Vacation Scheme


Thats not very nice is it? Everyone has to start somewhere 👀


Wow talk about outing them


This really wouldn’t be that much of a move would it? They’d lose out on trainees to other firms like CC, A

second year

hi does anyone have the latest nq rates data for vedder price or locke lord thanks .


What is a Locke Lord, is this satire?


If you want to know what commercial law firms in London are worth applying to, check Chambers UK > London > Corporate/M&A 800m+ or Corporate/M&A 100m-800m+. It gives a general indication of the good high-end and mid-market corporate players.

John Locke's Lord

Vedder Price lmaooooooooooooooooooooo

Old info

When I interviewed with Vedder Price in 2020 they were sitting in-between UK and US. I think the offer was around 125/130k NQ. I would expect them to still sit in-between.


Not going to get the pay war we want but I think at least this might trigger modest rises from a few other firms to partially offset inflation in the past year

Interested Observer

Would usually expect Travers to match but unsure this year. The huge financial black hole and mass partner exits combined with rumoured stealth lay-offs in corporate that I’ve heard about make me wonder if anyone will not get a pay cut this year let alone a raise….

Any travers insiders care to give more details?

Travers Person In The Know

So far as finances go this is tosh and a rumour created by recruiters to try and scare good associates into a move. Also whilst some partners have left it’s not a crisis particularly as most were at the junior end and to be frank at least three of them had their departure news greeted with massive celebrations and sighs of relief by the associate rank.

Can’t confirm or deny the lay-off rumour.

Travers won’t tell us about pay rises until July but no reason to expect anything other than a raise to 115k for NQs


Look just admit TS not doing well, no need bad off those that left the firm


That is the cult mentality. Though to be fair I’ve also heard things indicating this financial black hole at Travers is a load of rubbish too and things are fine financially in the context of the current economic climate

For King & Cultry

Look here is the truth from an insider.


The financials are fine in the context of the current economy. Yes there has been a slow down in corporate work but that is reflective of the market as a whole so the Travers financials should not be in any worse state which is disproportionate to any other firm in the City with a strong corporate and PE practice. Nothing to worry about here.


Yes there have been a higher number of partner departures than Travers is used to but this has been blown way out of proportion for the following reasons.

Historically very few partners left Travers as it was a strong practice , good place to progress and profits were high. A lot of these departures have come in a wave due to the pandemic but absent that losing 1-2 partners a year would not be a worry. The 7-8 partners who have left represent a catch-up of this trend making up for the lack of departures over the pandemic.

Recruiters are making this into a way bigger deal among associates and trainees to panic them into making moves in order to line their own commission filled pockets.

Of the partners who have left probably 2 of them could be categorised as “big losses”. However these partners were quite senior and likely would have retired in the next 3 years anyway so they were always going to retire from the partnership in the short term anyhow. Of the other departures , honestly most of them didn’t have a strong practice of their own and barely brought their own clients in. Their practices consisted of servicing the needs of the firms traditional clients who would always use Travers regardless of which partner does their work or servicing the work brought in by other partners.

A number id the partners who left were not liked by their respective teams so honestly their departure wasn’t upsetting to most people.


Rumours are that there have been lay-offs but I don’t know for sure. Tbh the corporate teams did go on a hiring spree during Covid to service the huge amounts of work coming in and now things have slowed down it would not surprise me if the transactional teams were looking at their outgoings and incomings and establishing that the figures don’t quite work in the current climate. Whether these were layoffs or people not making it through probabation I don’t know.


Travers pay review doesn’t come out until after most of the other law firms. No indication of what the raise will be. Would be shocked if it’s not raised to 115k though.


Travers is doing ok.

Disclaimer* I am not a so called “Travers cult member” despite having trained here. However I’m the interst of full disclosure I have never been in a relationship with anyone who has not worked outside of Travers and I have no friends who don’t work at Travers.

Aspiring solicitor

Anyone think RPC will increase theirs?



Pay War 3: Revenge of the Silver Circle

Mid tier firms like RPC, AG, Gowling etc are usually last to increase.

Salary increases tend to trickle down from the top. Hence why Macfarlances has increased a week after the MC all reaching 125k (bar SM lol)


What’s the NQ pay for Shoosmiths and Irwin Mitchell?

I am the lord of the bus said he

Shoosmiths is 87k, IM is 73k

Aspiring Solicitor

Also how easy is it to lateral to a SC/MC/US firm after training at a firm like RPC? RPC has a great culture etc but I’d be looking for more high-profile work, higher comp etc


It depends on what team you’re in. Certain teams like Media/IP/Tech you’re well poised to a “bigger name”. Insurance teams you’re on a bit of a different track altogether – the firm has a great reputation in that sphere and it won’t be a problem moving to a different firm that does insurance work. I don’t know much about corporate but why not if the market is right and you’re junior enough – although if you’re dead set on high end transactional work like corporate/banking then RPC probably isn’t the right fit or best place to train.


Also how easy is it to lateral to a SC/MC/US firm after training at a firm like RPC? RPC has a great culture etc but I’d be looking for more high-profile work, higher comp etc


It’s only good for disputes. If you qualify into disputes you can conceivably move to any disputes team in London which is looking for people. Anything else and you can kiss MC/US goodbye.


Why do Ashurst drag their feet and raise reluctantly after everyone else.



Clueless grad

Aren’t they in a bit of trouble? I read on rollonfriday that the US merger has ruined the UK side of things and it’s had a bit of a detrimental impact on the firm as a result?


Merger is actually doing okay as the US guys are doing well whilst the uk market is in a slump. The recent RoF and the lawyer articles are a bit of a hit job as whilst the firm isn’t setting the world alight the partner departures aren’t massively detrimental. Couple of exceptions of course but the press have seemingly realised articles bashing the firm get lots of clicks so have leapt on every departure.


Is Ashurst going to raise?

Sideshow bob

Can pigs fly?

US babe

Anyone heard about some firm firm called Duane Morris?

US babe

Anyone heard about some firm called Duane Morris?


Anyone heard about some firm called Duane Morris?


yes top firm huge whack . good place to train°


No but I have heard of Texas

Underpaid at DLA

Would be nice to see some movement from DLA Piper 🙁

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