Money focus: What law firms pay their newly qualified lawyers

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By Rhys Duncan on


Legal Cheek data shines spotlight on juniors’ salaries 💷

Legal Cheek has compiled an official round-up of the newly qualified (NQ) salaries available across the country’s leading law firms.

Whether you’re interested in the mega pay packets up for grabs in the London offices of US law firms, or the more modest earnings available at regional players that provide better work-life balance, our comprehensive rundown has got you covered.

The latest figures show firms have boosted NQ salaries by an average of 4% over the last year. The uptick comes despite Legal Cheek research showing a reduction in average working hours for junior lawyers across the City and beyond, amid reduced demand in legal services across several practice areas.

Topping the table this year are the usual suspects — a host of US firms. Whilst demanding 12 hour+ days in the office, at the top five firms juniors can expect to take home upwards of £170,000!

The 2024 Firms Most List — featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full

Whilst there were no pay reductions across the 100 + firms surveyed, there were some significant rises over the past 12 months. The biggest of these came in the shape of a 16% bump for NQs at Magic Circle duo Linklaters and Allen & Overy, both outfits hiking pay from £107,500 a year to £125,000.

You can view all our salary data, including rates for trainees, on our 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List.

How much will I earn as a newly qualified solicitor? 💷

Law firm NQ salary
Milbank £183,409*
Vinson & Elkins £173,822
Akin Gump £173,254**
Kirkland & Ellis £173,254**
Latham & Watkins £173,254**
Davis Polk & Wardwell £165,000
Weil Gotshal & Manges £165,000
Paul Hastings £164,000
Gibson Dunn £161,700
Debevoise & Plimpton £160,500
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton £160,000
Goodwin Procter £160,000
Sidley Austin £159,500
Fried Frank £158,000
King & Spalding £156,000
Cooley £150,000
Willkie Farr & Gallagher £150,000
Ropes & Gray £147,000
Dechert £145,000
Jones Day £145,000
Shearman & Sterling £145,000
Sullivan & Cromwell £145,000
Orrick £140,000
White & Case £140,000
Allen & Overy £125,000
Clifford Chance £125,000
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer £125,000
Linklaters £125,000
Herbert Smith Freehills £120,000
Hogan Lovells £120,000
Mayer Brown £120,000
Baker McKenzie £118,000
Ashurst £115,000
Macfarlanes £115,000
Slaughter and May £115,000
K&L Gates £110,000
Travers Smith £110,000
Katten Muchin Rosenman £108,000
Reed Smith £107,500
Simmons & Simmons £107,500
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner £105,000
CMS £105,000
Norton Rose Fulbright £105,000
DLA Piper £100,000
Squire Patton Boggs £100,000
Taylor Wessing £100,000
Addleshaw Goddard £95,000
Bird & Bird £95,000
Eversheds Sutherland £95,000
Fieldfisher £95,000
HFW £95,000
Stephenson Harwood £95,000
Watson Farley & Williams £95,000
Dentons £92,000
Gowling WLG £92,000
Pinsent Masons £92,000
Osborne Clarke £91,500
Mischon de Reya £90,000
Withers £90,000
Bristows £88,000
Shoosmiths £87,000
Charles Russell Speechlys £85,000
RPC £85,000
Farrer & Co £83,000
Clyde & Co £80,000
Forsters £80,000
Kennedys £80,000
Trowers & Hamlins £80,000
Wiggin £79,000
Harbottle & Lewis £78,000
Howard Kennedy £78,000
Lewis Silkin £78,000
Womble Bond Dickinson £78,000
Gateley £75,000
Irwin Mitchell £75,000
Penningtons Manches Cooper £75,000
TLT £75,000
Wedlake Bell £75,000
Hill Dickinson £72,000
Michelmores £72,000
Bates Wells £70,000
Burges Salmon £68,000
Winckworth Sherwood £67,000
Birketts £65,000
RWK Goodman £62,000
Stevens & Bolton £62,000
Foot Anstey £60,000
Walker Morris £60,000
Weightmans £60,000
Mills & Reeve £58,000
Ashfords £57,000
Brabners £50,000
Fletchers £36,750
Express Solicitors £33,000
Accutrainee Not applicable
Bevan Brittan Undisclosed
DWF Group Undisclosed
Greenberg Traurig Undisclosed
Kingsley Napley Undisclosed
Russell-Cooke Undisclosed
Shakespeare Martineau Undisclosed

*Law firm pays London-based newly qualified lawyers $225,000. GBP figure calculated via on 8 November 2023.
**Law firm pays London-based newly qualified lawyers $215,000. GBP figure calculated via on 6 November 2023.

The 2024 Firms Most List — featuring the Legal Cheek Survey results in full


White & Case should do better

White & Case really should be pushing the high 150s… they do keep on calling themselves an elite global firm… And keep on referencing Latham as their biggest rival atm… Also still at 17k for grants BCLP pays more lol

Harold Gunderson

Based on hours worked, Simmons and NRF are likely getting screwed. Both should be closer to the likes of HSF.

OC and Gowlings also seem a little bit low. They shouldn’t be paying less than AG/DLA/Sheds/Birds

US Trainee

White & Case’s largest office is now London, hence the lower salary.


I don’t think anyone’s gonna jump ship from the work life balance (as far as one goes in these places) for the extra £1-2k/month anyway.

Truth to be told

White n Case is a lifestyle shop.


Can anyone shed any light on what bonuses typically look like percentage wise? Is there much difference between say a CMS/DLA/NRF and Macfarlane/travers/S S?


Bonus isn’t worth the squeeze at those shops. You might get 30k as a mid associate in a busy year but it gets taxed at almost 50 per cent if you’re an additional rate earner (even more if you have a student loan) meaning you receive about 15k or 1250 extra a month across the year. Keeping evenings and weekends is worth more than that.

Mr Herbie Himself

HSF is about 20% for 2,100 hours, about half for 2,000 hours etc


Macs has better bonuses than the other firms you asked about, including a firm wide bonus irrespective of individual performance and 10-30% based on individual performance. I don’t know why someone would stay at HSF for 20% above 2100 as opposed to going for a US firm for much more money but same hours or to a Uk firm for same money but less hours …


Lool ofc there is a difference


If you’re NQ salary is undisclosed then I’m looking at you sus..

I don't like designer brands

How grammatically incorrect can a sentence be! You might need to reconsider doing law.

Brian, age 10

Tell me you’re not a lawyer without telling me you’re not a lawyer.


95k and not working US firm hours is pretty decent tbf.


I thought AG or pinset masons or Dentons were gonna be on 100k now?!! Who will rise next?


Go back to failing University of Warwick tort tutorials

Not so "Elite"?

The higher salaries offered by US firms are just a function of employing less people and beasting each person more. If the US firms employed as many people as the MC do they’d also be paying MC rates.

thanks Sherlock


Logical thinker at US firm

You’re also failing to account for the fact that US firms do fewer deals than MC firms on the whole, so it’s not a direct comparison. e.g. you could very easily be a US associate working fewer hours than an MC associate.


Fewer deals, but your whole life is consumed by them…at least in MC it will be more spread out


Surely not anything to do with the fact that the US economy is far larger and more productive than the UK one and that the American home market generates far more fees which are used to subsidise global operations? People here in the UK are in denial about how much richer the US is and how much higher salaries are in the US. By way of information, US GDP per capita is $80k, which is 66% higher than the UK figure of $48k (per the IMF:

MC job hunter

What is the culture like in Gibson, Cleary, and Paul Hastings? Good pay and not too cut-throat?


lol it’s a US firm, ofc its cut throat


Gibson has a good very diverse culture with lots of smart and friendly lawyers

Mr Hastings

I’m at PH – it’s cut throat enough but not as bad as people think. Lots of nice people and a pretty good place to work overall. We also pay NQs $215k but that’s what it looks after the exchange rate, which is fixed.

Kirkland NQ

If you haven’t got a Lambo dealer on speed dial are you really a lawyer?


Hogan Lovells = 🐐

Trainee Associate

W&C reevaluate salaries around this time of year. Has been static for two years, whilst other firms have been raising pay.

Looking at historical raises, I would expect trainee pay to increase to approx. 57,000 in Y1, and NQ pay to sit around the 160,000 mark.

The firm used to make a point of matching or outdoing the likes of CGSH and similar firms. Let’s hope the new leadership in London delivers.

In the Know

Sullivan & Cromwell number is wrong, should be closer to the top of the table. It pays the Cravath scale.

These articles are a bit misleading as all the genuinely top US firms pay on that scale in dollars, just with differences in how they calculate the exchange rate (which will probably even out between firms over time). There’s nothing really to choose between them when it comes to salary. Bonus is a bit different: whilst the figure per PQE ends up being the same, some firms have a billable requirement, others don’t.

Legal Cheek

Sullivan & Cromwell no longer disclose their London NQ salary, the £145,000 figure is the most up to date, verified, number available.

As for US firms, the financial distinction at NQ level is the conversion rate, some of which are set internally, others undisclosed. This is reflected in the table with the * for those that are undisclosed (and thus were calculated on an up-to-date exchange rate in the absence of other information), with the other US firms having £ figures provided by the firm.

In the Know

Understood you can only work with the public data. Thank you for taking the time to reply.


Do we have a list of US firms in London that pay Cravath?


Milbank have raised their salaried in the U.S. I’m sure it will be reflected in the UK soon.


If you’re at BCLP or Simmons you got the short end of the stick


Why are Clydes still paying NQ 80k?


They spent all their money on buying BLM, standardising salaries and taking on an additional 30+ trainees, whilst having a client base of insurance firms which don’t want to spend money on lawyers and not investing in non-insurance practices


Shoosmiths now pays £90k for London by the way

Shoosmiths NQ

They do not

Not shoosmiths thank god

Calm down on your raise, youre still not making much

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