City pay war: Linklaters matches Freshfields with £150k NQ lawyer salary

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By Legal Cheek on


Rises for trainees and apprentices too

Linklaters has increased the salaries of its newly qualified associates to £150,000, following Freshfields‘ decision to do the same earlier this month.

The move equates to an increase of £25,000 or 20% with rates previously sitting at £125,000. The rise came into effect at the start of the month.

Links has matched Freshfields on trainee pay too; £56,000 for those in year one and £61,000 for those in year two. Rookie rates previously sat at £50,000 and £55,000.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2024 shows the remaining MC firms — A&O Shearman, Clifford Chance and Slaughter and May — provide NQs with a salary of £125,000.

Solicitor apprentice salaries have also moved from £25,000 to £28,000.

Paul Lewis, firmwide managing partner, said:

“We are committed to rewarding our people competitively in our market. Our salary changes reflect this and enable us to attract and retain exceptional lawyers to provide the highest quality service to our clients.”

It looks like the pay war is well an truly on…



They are literally going to bankrupt themselves. All the top partners leaving, no presence in the US, way behind the game with private equity. They can’t afford to do this.



Thanks, keep us posted

Panic over

PEP is almost 2 million pounds honey, up again this year – no one at links is going bankrupt lol 😂


PEP is £1.7million. That’s 15% less than 2m. And it was down last year compared to the year below. Let’s deal in facts, shall we?

Oh dear

It’s up this year though – can you not read? Why are you telling me last years figures? And even with the older figures, since when was 1.78million pounds profit PER PARTNER (you diluted last years figure btw) and £850m annual profit a sign of impending bankruptcy? If so make me bankrupt asap!


How do you know it’s up this year? Do you work for Linklaters internal auditor?

Compare 1.7m to 2.1m at Freshfields. Major difference.


It’s also worth noting that unlike most firms (including Magic Circle ones like CC) Linklaters doesn’t play games with it’s PEP. Every partner (apart from I think like 20 that are probably people in semi retirement or have regulatory reasons why they can’t be in the equity) is an equity partner. So they don’t inflate the PEP by keeping some “partners” on salary.


That makes absolutely no sense… PEP is profits per equity partner… if you’re a salaried partner as in some other firms then you are not part of the equation. No one is playing games, you’re just confused. If you were to include salaried partners as part of the base equation, that would reduce PEP… not “inflate” it…


No mate, you’re the one who’s confused.

Both salaried and equity partners are charged out at the same rates. Therefore, they both generate the same amount of profitability. With me so far?

By having a higher proportion of salaried partners, you are lessening the dilution of the profit pool, and thereby increasing PEP to more than it would otherwise be with a higher proportion of partners who are in the equity.

It *doesn’t* mean that a firm with a high PEP *and* a high proportion of salaried partners actually has more money to spend than a firm with lower PEP (but a higher proportion of partners in the equity).

Think about it

If you are a salaried partner you are not part of the equation. Are they? Consider this: salaried partners’ (Y) client facing billing rates are the same but the profits generated by the firm (i.e., by (Y) + (X)) are only distributed among (X) equity partners. Would it reduce PEP or inflate it? You have 3 guesses.

Learning so much

“Literally going to bankrupt themselves”. Tell me more, since you must be the CFO?

And absolutely – Slaughters partners with “no presence in the U.S.” are really struggling.

Thank goodness for your insights.


We found the slaughters managing partner folks!

Bullingdon of the City

Not you again, Roo?

Doesn’t it ever get boring?

Uruk-hai LLB LLM LPC



A&O Shearman have really let their associates down. They blow millions on their marketing campaign billing themselves as the best firm in the world and then reduce the salary of incoming Shearman lawyers to last year’s rates! They should be increasing beyond freshfields and linklaters with their so called worldwide prestige not lagging behind!


This. A&O Shearman is a myth.


How are US firms going to respond? Surely a raise as well? Or else what is the point?


Someone doesn’t understand how US firms set pay..


US firms set pay in January out of New York. It has nothing to do with their London offices which are a mere satellite to the main operations stateside. They won’t do anything before then as that would mean they are paying their main associates in America less than their London office.


US firms set pay out of their US headquarters in January every year. What happens in the London market among UK firms has no bearing on their salary scale.

Let’s go

Travers what you got?

Lool wishful thinking

Hahahaha TS more likely to lower at this rate, have you not seen the partner departures and profits dwindling loool

To be fair

To be fair, TS very likely to get bought out by a US mega firm that hasn’t entered the London market yet (like PW until recently) so there is a decent chance that they may shoot up the pay scales post that takeover, once the US overlords get rid of the dead wood cult die hard. Either that or the firm collapses in the next 12 months which I’d say is the bigger prospect as of today.

Experiment backfired

Now they realise that being a cult and brain washing their employees with the cult back fires. When your spouse and friendship group solely consists of Travers personnel, friction, fall outs and divorces are likely to come when you’re all made redundant and competing for the same jobs. I feel sorry for any children sired out of many of the TS cult insests as once the firm collapses they’ll lose both parents’ sources of income. I also feel sorry for the many TS employees who only have friends at TS once the competition for jobs cu causes an inevitable breakdown of friendship and those former friends have no friends at all.

TS trainee

NGL I saw one of the asset management head partners crying about all the partners leaving last week. Felt bad for a couple of minutes then burst out with laughter .

Not so bad now

Bet the chap who got fired for threading a client with legal action to take back the cats he was sold is wishing his lucky stars he got out of there when he did. Better to have two cats with parasites than be in office surrounded with them.

It’s not over

Rumours are that another 3 are going to leave in the next two weeks.


They’ve only gone and done it !! 🤌

Any insiders confirming pay rise ?

CC and SM – 👀 (is AO Shearman still MC?)

Big boy

COME ON CMS – push ittt

Little Jim

Internally I think the mood music is no to further increases. Personally feel like I’ve been grafting for nothing.


SM said in April they had decided not to increase associate pay in an internal email

Guys stop fighting please

Of course they did…


Any insiders that can confirm pay rises for any US or city firm that’s not SC?

Remember us

Charles Russell to raise to 110k NQ

It’s true

Confirmed over email earlier this week for corporate team and private client only though.

Interested NQ

Confirmed to who? Neither the corporate nor private client associates have heard anything on this front.


Oh wow really? Surprised with Charles Russell


Yep, post rebrand they’re trying to raise increase their corporate work and compete with the SC. Recently had a increase in hourly rates and set to bump salaries.

Angry CRS

Pretty angry given I’m in a team that isn’t included in the pay rises and I know half the people in corporate at least are so stupid. When you’re marking up an SPA and pointing out that corporate associate has forgot to add title and capacity warranties you wonder how some people get into big law.


You consider CRS to be big law? Lol

Curious outsider

Do you think they will expand to the other teams? Surely they can’t keep paying 85k to NQs as it’s well below market – what is the bonus like?

Yeaaa boiii

Pay war baby!!!

*insert famous meme*

Who’s next ?!!!


*incoming comments about it’s not sustainable*

All rrrr

Was thinking of moving to US firm before this, think I’m content at Links now lol

Curious the cat

Whats the salary banding like? Did all PQE’s get an increase?


25k uplift at each band on the scale.

Links NQ

The 25k increase is across all associate bands


No one going to talk about DLA not offering NQ roles to 60% of their cohort?


Plz shed light on this. The people need to know


Good for you mate!

I mean you will still be earning less money and bonus for your entire career for roughly the same hours but hey.


If firms were football teams what would MC be and what would US firms be?

115 Charges

US would be man city, PSG, Madrid
Magics would be man united, liverpool, arsenal, AC Milan, Juventus, Inter, Bayern, Barca,
Silvers would be Newcastle, Atletico, Dortmund, spurs (LOL), maybe Villa
KWM is definitely portsmouth (remember the harry redknapp days)

Football Nerd with too much time

Horrendous to liken PSG to a US firm. Plus, no mention of Chelsea is criminal. Here is the correct list:

US: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona
Magic Circle: Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona, PSG
Silver Circle: Inter, Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto, Benfica, Napoli
International: RB Leipzig, Sporting Lisbon, AFC Ajax, Spurs, Roma, Newcastle, Lazio, Monaco, Lille

Prestige or pay rise?

SM will your prestige sustain or will you rise ?


Any insight re raises at Price Prior?


Someone please explain this in football terms?

Here you go

A&O Shearman are well offside.

Here you go

A&O Shearman are well offside.

Here you go

A&O are offside.

Barney the tree

Heard you the first time mate


Liverpool and Arsenal have upped their salaries to match PSG and Man City

Jamie Carragher

Liverpool are more successful than PSG. All that money and they still can’t win the champions league – wonder what firm that makes them?

Jeremy Usborne

Don’t worry guys slaughters just announced a prestige rise to match


Prestige over pay – Yayy!

2024 qualifier

Plz if there’s any news on AG rising lmk. I’m on my knees

Paul, Weiss senior associate



PW literally pays marginally more at NQ level. I envy your swanky digs though.

Are the rumours true that Sachdev has a professional blow dry each morning before he arrives in the office? True commitment that.


190k isn’t a marginal difference…




Last time I checked PW was Cravath, below £180k (depending on FX rate). So, £30k difference, which you will only see 12k in your pocket after tax, pension (5%), and student loan.

The point is, if MC firms start to pay £150k, is it still worth jumping ship to a US shop? We’re comparing £6.8k to £7.8k per month – a £1k a month difference for NQ’s.

CC, A&O, and then S&M will have to match (likely in that order). Then, it’s up to the SC firms to make their move. Something tells me HSF is gonna rise first to £135k. Once they’ve made their move, Macs, Travers, and Ashurst will follow. (I refuse to entertain BCLP being SC).

I reckon £110k will be market for the likes of DLA, CMS, AG, Dentons, Eversheds. But, these guys won’t raise until 2025.

Get that pension up

Surely you’d be contributing way over 5% at that salary though, especially where £1 out the take home is basically £2 in the pension?

academic weapon

Any insights on a Bakers NQ raise?


Need to know


Anyone here know what a 5PQE at each of the MC would get paid roughly?

Meaty cream pie

Freshfields / Stinklaters – £205-225k
CC – £170-180k
ASOS – £165-170k
Slaughtered and Dismayed – £150-160k

+up to 70% bonus for certain practice areas (10-15% for S&M)

Yes but does pay rise mean significant hrs rise

Okay what does it mean in terms of their hrs cos Charles Russell is known for their good work life balance….


Target of 1500 billable not set to change. But in the teams getting the increase (Corporate and Private client) in reality are generally hitting around 1700 or more a year, hence why the increase has been justified for them.

City trainee

CRS Corporate work into most evenings

City trainee

CRS Corporate work into most evenings


Shed, AG, DLA, Taylor made, Watson any raises ?


Heard white & case might rise to 170 – up to 190 if you bill high

W&C Associate

Figures slightly off, but heard this too. £190k up to £250k if you “bill high”.

Free 1 to 1 consultation with the lambo dealer every year as an added firm benefit.


Yh I was trolling mate loool


So CC is likely to rise by summer and slaughter by Christmas if that ?


When are Ashurst increasing???


Am not sure why English language training is not engineered online. . . oh yeah, they call it AI, legal owns the world by their word plays!


Links Is Back


Can someone pls explain what is happening to Travers and why?

Travers insider hoping to leave before it’s too late

In summary, it’s a has been firm which traditionally offered good quality private equity work with big private equity houses whilst enjoying a decent culture. In reality, whilst the former was true, the latter was only true if you were trained at the firm and were a member of the club so to speak. So many laterals came and left as they felt excluded from the culture and felt like they couldn’t fit in. The basis of this largely revolves around the notion that people at the firm solely had personal relationships and friendships with others at the firm, so if you imagine your non work friendships, it takes a while for new friends to join. Except a work place shouldn’t have a culture purely based on there being no difference between personal and professional like TS has.

So fundamentally the firm couldn’t retain any of its lateral hires. Now fast forward a few years to the times where the US firms came into play in London with their own PE client relationships. Many of these big clients of US firms traditionally had their UK and EU work covered by TS and Macs etc. but as the US giants settled in London, the PE clients moved their business to the US firms as it makes sense for continuity and because US firms, as we know, will pull out every stop to get deals signed in weekends.

So as this happens, partners at TS realise that to compete they need to bring in more associates. Unfortunately, given the above point about why laterals didn’t stay, many potential candidates turned them down or were not good enough. So in terms of competing TS couldn’t do that from a logistical / lawyer power point of view. So ultimately, given the loss of the TS PE practice, and the accompanying reduction in PEP many TS partners are using their pre existing relationships with UK and EU PE people athe big firms to jump shop to US firms for the work and the vast increase in pay.

So now the PE practice has gone, PEP is falling even more. But that’s not the end of the story, TS has always had a strong corporate practice and this was needed to increase to make up for the short fall im PE work. What’s the thing with huge corporate clients though? They’re multinational and this has only increased with globalisation. They are only interested im advisors who can advise them across the world. TS only has a London office and one partner in Paris so when you compare it to the MC or global firms like HL or BM it can’t compete. So now all the corporate partners are leaving as they can go elsewhere for more money.


Any insights for HSF, HogLov, etc?

Martin Lewis

Clyde & Co where you at???


how do you know CRS is increasing? Is it just corporate??




Meanwhile, English and NY qualified *senior associate* in an EU office of an MC firm makes €250k. Shouldn’t have left London.


For all of people saying this is unsustainable – in just under 2 months, my billables = 100% of my salary.

Earning machine

Correct. On a much smaller scale in a regional outfit i had a conversation last week with an equity partner last week who told me that our NQ pay last year of £63k was unsustainable, excessive etc etc – I politely pointed out that I didn’t agree as I had actually brought in (not just billed but actually collected) £230k …… awkward silence in response.

-- Cool Story Bro Alert --

Bro, that is a cool story.

Tell it again?


What happened at DLA?


Nothing happened to them they raised tl 100k recently…my thoughts that shed or AG or Watson Farley might rise next

The Secret Client

And who pays for this all? The clients that’s right. Most seek advice to do the right thing. But if this means bankrupting themselves many will choose to vote with their feet and middle through. Legal AI couldn’t come fast enough


I don’t think you understand how any of this works…


I suggest that instead pitiful increases to satisfy the workers, to offer a percentage of profits, that will illustrate how much profits are produced and how much those enabling such profits are participating in its reaping. It will be a fairer system. I have no doubts.


Genuine question, if you were choosing between Freshfields and A&O Shearman now, where would you go? Will Freshfields always go first and go big on £? Or worth it for the merger, to see what the US influence does? Surely A&O Shearman have to match?

MC pay wars

CC have only gone matched !!!

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