NRF boosts newly qualified solicitor pay to £120k

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By Rhys Duncan on


Maximum of £168,000 with bonus

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) has bumped up the salaries of its newly qualified (NQ) lawyers in London to £120,000.

The raise, which is a 14% increase on the previous salary of £105,000, comes in tandem with uplifts across the London associate pay scale, “maintaining the differential between steps”. The rises take effect from 1 April.

NQs will also have the chance to increase their salary by up to 40% with performance bonuses based on hours clocked or fees-billed. This leaves the maximum available for an NRF NQ at a bumper £168,000.

These bonuses are calculated on a biannual basis where “fee-earners can enjoy more immediate pay back for hard work”. This, the firm says, means more fee-earners are eligible for a bonus.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Besides traditional billed hours, the firm allows associates to include 125 hours of “values-based activities” towards their bonus check. These include pro bono, diversity & inclusion, and CSR activities, along with time invested in innovation initiatives that improve client experience and service delivery.

Lawyers can also claim uncapped billable hours credit for “work on the development of standalone products and services”.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2024 shows the rise brings the firm’s NQs level with their opposite numbers at Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Mayer Brown.



The increases in law firm salaries leave most in house salaries lookimh very poor. In theory the lower salary (and loss of chance to get partnership) at least in part compensated with less hours, better culture and more flexibility.

However if in-house employers seek to pressure their lawyers into office attendance and long hours they are leaving the employee proposition looking extremely weak.


Being in house, I think it’s creating a big split between start up/scale ups and established companies.

Going in house as sole counsel at a scale up, with some equity, speed of growth no law firm will ever manage and a generally cool vibe is still quite tempting. It’s a job unlike any a law firm can really offer and if (big if) the growth plan is achieved you can cash out some serious money.

Going in house at a large, established organisation, which still has lots of bureaucracy, limited or no share options, relatively specialist legal role etc. often with minimum 2 days a week on the office is not looking very appealing when law firms offer the same with more money and better support to do the job.

However, it’s impossible to get huge pay rises just based on the legal market, because how does a CFO justify the lawyers getting 40% when other highly skilled staff like accountants, research scientists, software engineers etc. aren’t?


Ultimately companies need to recognise that the market rate for lawyers has markedly increased. Every job has a market rate, companies will need to find a way, whether giving lawyers higher grades, wider pay bands or bonuses. If they ignore they simply won’t attract quality staff. Pushing in house lawyers to go in the office not a smart move.

MC Associate

The up-or-out pyramid model of corporate law means that every year thousands of people (mostly at 5-8 PQE) are effectively required to leave their jobs in private practice. The majority of those are absorbed by the in-house sector – and that huge supply means that there are no pressures pushing salaries upwards. It’s a very different situation to private practice, where there aren’t that many roles at 5 – 8 PQE but the number of people who are capable of doing that job is extremely limited, hence necessitating sky-high salaries to keep those people from going elsewhere – most in-house jobs can be done by anyone who is moderately bright and moderately hard-working.


There are thousands of people at every level, from trainee applicants, to NQ to 3 PQE. If salaries in private practice go up significantly, at some point salaries in house need to follow, this is basic economics of otherwise those leaving firms will opt to go to another firm rather than in house. The salaries in private practice have gone up ultimately because the amount society is willing to pay for lawyers time has gone up. Even if in house salaries may be lower, there is no fundamental reason for the gap in salaries to get larger.

Rupert; drowning in dollars 🇺🇸



TC hopeful

Any idea how many hours billed are required for these bonuses ?


It’ll be exceptionally (i.e. unattainably) high for the very top end, to pay out to the one or two poor souls who manage it. I would be surprised if it were anything less than 2500-600 billable.

NRF Insider

it’s 2500 BH


So 1.5k extra net a month for killing your evenings, weekends and holidays? Take the base pay folks.

Pay war enjoyer

I’d imagine 2000 minimum to get the full bonus. This would mean hours billed and salary is about on par with white shoe US firms. This is the only way the UK firms can compete with the salary gap.


2000 gets you your (lowest) bonus in the white shoes and 1800 is typically minimum billed. So no, this would be a good way off what they’re raking in.

Arctic Alien

Fingers crossed I passed the games


That bonus seems high for law? Does anyone have any idea how many people will hit that 40% bonus or do most lawyers only get 0-10%?
It appears that if those bonuses are awarded widely then NQs at NRF would be out-earning most of the UK market including firms like slaughters where bonuses are awarded in lockstep. This does not seem to line up, especially when considering PEP at NRF is 800k. Does the 800K figure only include London or is it actually higher in London and the 800K figure includes all the overseas offices?

I suppose other UK firms still have ample time to raise; perhaps the MC will raise NQ to 140k?

I guess the simpler explanation is that NRF will just set the 40% bonus at 3000 hours and this is just a headline figure that 1 or 2 associates will obtain? Any insiders wanna spill the beans ?


Look I have the “potential” to win the lottery, marry Harry Styles and buy a villa in Nice – but chances of that actually happening are just as slim as an NQ earning £168k at NRF


If the likes of STB, K&E and Paul Weiss don’t pay out 40% bonuses – you really think NRF are? OF COURSE NRF IS NOT DOING THIS.

Twelve cats eating Yorkshire pudding

That is a massive move


What’s a big move? Finally matching pay a year late to its Baker, HL and HSF competitors? Is NRF grad rec team spamming this comment section because the comments are absurd.

Twelve cats eating Yorkshire pudding

I’d say NRF was more of the ballpark of DLA, Eversheds etc


NRF hardly within the ranks of Baker, HL and HSF.. this raise must be a desperate attempt to get out there and get trainees

Damn, nice.

This is great if you’re at a firm like Ashurst, HogLov, Mayer Brown, Reed Smith, HSF, etc.

Same goes with the MC. NRF and MC firms on the same NQ rate makes zero sense.

There is now a lot of pressure on these tier of firms to push up again this summer review season.


What are you on about? The likes of HogLov, HSF, Mayer Brown already pay 120k + . This is not going to move them.


MC salaries are a joke now. MC either need to either raise or they will be confirmed as second tier in the London market and now real advantage to working at the likes of Hogan Lovells or HSF


Lool £125k is a joke to you? #delusion

Who you think will rise next?


Joke to pay vastly more than your supposed competitors yes, unless you balance the huge pay difference with very material other benefits. But of course they don’t. So yes, a joke

TC hopeful (again)

Are you given a breakdown? 1900 for 10%? 2100 for 20% etc

DLA Pauper

Wonder if the stingy overlords at DLA will take notice…


Loool what you on? You guys recently rose 100k. If anything the Shed should be looking to rise. Can any shed insiders confirm?

Also I reckon Arnold and porter might rise too

Trowers 3PQE

We might get paid peanuts but at least we don’t have to work the same/similar hours to the likes of NRF, the MC or some US firms… OH WAIT A MINUTE!


In all honesty, who you reckon will rise next?


We’re in a recession the law bois still rising! That’s the life of a city boy 💰🤑


Think I vomited in my mouth reading this


Goood whack? Is NRF sweaty


Yes; no.

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