Clifford Chance joins City pay war with improved £150k NQ lawyer salary

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By Legal Cheek on


Follows Freshfields and Linklaters

Clifford Chance has become the latest Magic Circle law firm to increase the salaries of its most junior lawyers to £150,000.

This move, equivalent to an additional £25,000 or 20%, follows hot on the heels of identical increases by Freshfields and Linklaters.

Clifford Chance confirmed the increase to newly qualified pay is effective of 1 May.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The firm, which recruits around 110 trainees each year, the highest intake of any City outfit, has also boosted the salaries of its rookie lawyers.

From 1 September, trainee pay moves from £50,000 to £56,000 in year one and £55,000 to £61,000 in year two. These also match the rises dished out by Freshfields and Linklaters.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2024 shows that A&O Shearman and Slaughter and May are the only remaining two members of the Magic Circle not to increase the salaries of its junior lawyers. They both currently offer an NQ salary of £125,000.



Yes CC! Enjoy your prestige Slaughters


I mean, yes, I actually will? What’s an extra couple of hundred per month in the grand scheme of things? Meanwhile Slaughter are involved in pretty much every UK listed takeover – genuinely can’t remember the last time I saw CC pop up?

Your new financial advisor

Extra couple of hundred? Its just over £1k a month after tax…


They shouldn’t be advising on any takeovers with that appalling maths.


The incredibly active and exciting UK public M&A market — if that’s all you have to cling to at Slaughter’s these days that really is depressing.


CC baby!!! AO Sherman and slaughters what’s going on? Loool

Ahmad Haroon

Cc whats ur issue you say you’re diverse yet you lack diversity.. spoke to many lawyers and all I see them on Facebook is them being emotional….. ?? The workload and being under pressure with no help says a lot!

Ex Clifford chance trainee

Clifford chance is overrated


Easy for you to say mate, considering you already did your TC there!

Interesting times for firms like Hogan Lovells, HSF, Mayer Brown, Ashurst,etc

I wonder what they’ll do. 120 to 150 is actually a fair gulf. Will these tier-below MC firms move to 140?


Maybe their new benchmark will be £125k. I could see that.


Thinking about it.. Clifford chance is not an ideal girm you want to work with…. I’m just saying there’s a lot of red flags following up the competitiveness theyre having with AO shearman and linklaters?????????? Whattttt

AO Sherman take this L

Imagine deciding to go Shearman and rejecting CC cos Shearman were paying higher at the time (being a US firm) and now CC pay higher lool


They’ll work for it that’s for sure particularly in assets


why assets


Take that, take that! No diddy


Meanwhile Pinsent Masons have increased nq salary to 97k in London and 63k in regions. Very poor considering another very strong year!

Regional observer

I don’t think that’s a bad raise to be honest, that’s up from 90k London and 60k regions right?

Clifford chance lawyers use tinder 😂 don't ask

I’m looking for a Clifford chance lawyer particularly in finance trust fund 6’5 blue eyes!!! I repeat blue eyes!!!!!!! and a trust fund 😎


I heard about this on Instagram its trending well we know where these lawyers money goes to…


Sources? 🍵


I wonder if bakers will move up?


Baker to increase soon

hopeful trainee

do you know what to? do you have any insight


Clifford chance is insecure theyre disliking everyone’s comments 🤣🤣🤣

Bakers Associate

Will probably increase £1k and tell us to be super grateful.


lol, wouldn’t be surprised


which city firm you think will rise next that’s not MC or US?


HSF, Baker, NRF, Macs, Simmons, Hogan Lovell and DLA should…


DLA won’t loool…they just raised their salary to 100k. More likely Shed, Watson and maybe Bakers

Tell us tell us tell us

Is it true they didn’t retain a lot of their trainees?

Unretained Regional Trainee

Over a month ago they held an NQ workshop with all trainees across UK offices and made them announce to every other trainee on the call where they wanted to qualify.

This week they sent an email to us (all unretained trainees) so we can see who else wasn’t kept on.

You couldn’t make this up and I am more curious as to why there hasn’t been an article on this.

True Story

No it isn’t true and the 15.41pm commenter is spreading lies. None of those things mentioned happened at all.

Only a handful have not been retained but it is not as bad as some of the comments have made out. Several trainees are unretained out of choice as they wish to leave the firm.


Bet that guy who quit his TC to sell guides during a pay war is seething hahaha

Not in this NQ market

I can’t see these firms increasing NQ salary in this market.

The NQ market is dead at the moment. There are not that many NQ roles going and therefore trainees are either staying at their current firms or downgrading to a smaller firm.

MC firms are increasing the salary because their trainees can leave and go to other MC or US firms but that is not a possibility in the current market for most trainees at the firms you have listed. Those trainees are going to look to be retained or they could be without a job entirely or go to a much smaller firm and take circa 40k pay cut.


A HSF trainee couldn’t go to an MC / US firm post their TC?


It’s not impossible but in this NQ market it is quite difficult.

If you are a final seat trainee who is going through the NQ process you would know that there are only a limited number of jobs on offer.

No Comprehension Lad

Comprehension is really lacking these days.

The comment was obviously not saying that trainees at those sorts of firms can never move to a US or MC firm – they are saying it is difficult to do in the current NQ market which I agree which.

Not in this NQ market

You guys disliked the comment and even commented in opposition but look at Pinsents hardly increasing their NQ salary.

I told you this would happen.

The NQ market is abysmal and firms are aware of this which is why they aren’t increasing the salary by much.

In a buoyant NQ market you could go from Pinsents to a MC/US firm as trainees were doing a couple years ago but that isn’t the case now.

Happy CRS

Charles Russell raising to 97.5k for all lawyers except corporate and private client who are going up to 110k




I heard about this on Instagram its trending well we know where these lawyers money goes to…




Very decent whack for CRS

Zayan ahmed

crs may level up after seeing this post

CRS Associate

It’s going to be announced on Friday. Apparently management are furious that it got leaked and are forced to announce earlier than expected . Some confusion about when the raises will take effect though.


US firms will rise to £200 NQ

Silly Fresher

Someone doesn’t understand how US firms set pay…


The top US firms look to pay 30-40% above MC NQ rates. £200K for NQ is definitely imminent

Not an idiot

No. They pay the rate set by the US head office which for most top US firms is the Cravath rate. They may adjust their FX rate where, for some firms (e.g. latham I think?) they have a trailing FX rate with cap and collar meaning the UK associates earn less than they would if the US salary was converted to GBP each month.


No, they tend to. Not look to.

Kirkland NQ

Aww, bless.

Paul, Weiss senior


Rupert; a US Firm Legend

Chicken feed, dear person.


Price Prior to the MOOOOOOOOOON


Lol 🤣 they want to copy eberu move we make


Clifford chance take this L your law firm is boring


Clifford chance take this chance to improve your firm rather than increasing the salary. Dont follow the sheep.

Any confirmations ?

Any confirmations on Shed or Hogan Lovells?

Bhavya Sharma

Does anyone know if Watson Farley & Williams will be making any raises?



Beleaguered CC senior

Great at the junior end of the spectrum. Pretty appalling as a senior given bunching.

Cc senior making us money

Work a bit harder and get the 80%+ salary bonus that is available?

Curious George

Wait so no uplift for all salary bands? What is the bonus structure?


Addleshaw, plz, I’m still on my knees


I’m on my knees for the US firms like gibbs dun to go 200k


Waiting for the US law firms to grill CC and increase their salaries to 250k. Cc is going down hill!!!!!!!

AO shearman

Cant compete with us no one wants to work in your firm 🤣 110 trainees? The whole firm is falling apart!


Waiting for the US firms to sky rocket and outdo the magic firms!

White and case

Clifford chance take this L your law firm is boring


Not sure they’re the one with the L. White & Case don’t seem to be raising…

Latham and watkins

The game begins……


Sure its a great start as a trainee but when qualifying should have been at least on 170k maximum. Clifford chance is giving the least bare minimum


If you want to cry every day because you’re not having a balance work life don’t delay and join freshfielders today

Freshfields Lawyer

If you want to post comments on Legal Cheek in broken, nonsensical English, don’t delay and post today!


Sir I did this comment to show that you don’t accept people with broken English or any international students have a great day 😀 spelling the firm incorrectly just like how you pick your trainees incorrectly

Clifford chance lawyers use tinder 😂 don't ask

I’m looking for a Clifford chance lawyer particularly in finance trust fund 6’5 blue eyes!!! I repeat blue eyes!!!!!!! and a trust fund 😎


The stories in Clifford chance are ridiculous!


The partners at CC reading the comments like 👀


An increase of £25,000 not bad Clifford chance!


CC’s are not juniors they’re on entry level.. learning from the best I see.

Yeahhh boi

Shed to go 110k according to sources

A polite way of calling bullshit



Pinset mason to 97k and what’s the point 5k more lol

AO Shearman

Join our firm since all Cc does is copy every move we make


A&O Shearman is a myth

Boopy Doopy

Oh did AO Shearman raise to 150k before CC?


Slaughter partners are sweating right now …


Clifford chance lawyers are not handsome or smart at all… dated a few and let me tell you… its better to date a guy from tesco



Cc is overrated

Cool they increased their salary by 25k just like every other firm. Now what? Nothing special about a firm that’s copying other firms. Cc is overratted

Sherlock Clifford chance

Random question but would Clifford chance really increase their salaries if their competitors hadn’t increased their salaries first? The answer is no. Red flags red flags red flags


I’m bored of Clifford chance , rather apply to a city firm much more movement and actions are taken with appropriate measures instead of competing like kiddos when salaries increase in every other firm.

Good luck

Go onn Jack apply to those firms – good luck mate

As an international students perspective

I want to troll Clifford chance but looking at their deals and who they’re headquarters are lol they are the joke already. As an international student $25,000 more would not make me apply to your firm.


This comment is madness, say what you like about their culture etc. but their deal list is great. Their HQ is in CW, the heart of the financial sector. They’re the same building as DB and Infosys ffs, and next to JPM, Citi, Credit Suisse etc. You sound like an idiot.

CC mid level

There are no fewer than six spelling/grammatical errors in your very short post. With that level of English, you will not make it past graduate recruitment anyway.


These comments are so stupid legal cheek delete the trolls 😂

Call me poor

Clifford chance lend me a fiver

Future Trainee CMS

Please CMS, increase will ya


But greedy mate CMS have increased like 3 times in recent years …and with their recent redundancies in corporate I doubt it

Hopeful Slaughters 3 PQE

How about higher PQEs? Have they raised each year PQE’s salary by 25k, like Links did – or is there a bit of bunching?

It’d be good to have another thread at some point to share figures for each PQE level for all magic circle firms to take stock once the dust settles!


We don’t know yet. The scales are increasing, but not 25k at every level.

The big thing is bonuses. The claim is that big billers will make equivalent to US compensation through massive bonuses. The existing scheme can already exceeds 80% of salary for senior associates. The proof will of course be in the pudding.


Stephenson Harwood raise NQ to £110k

lol are you sure

Source – wishful thinking?

The only believe so far is Charles Russell


Loooool imagine


Considering the recruit trainees from when they’re babies (Spark I’m looking at you) that’s some fruitful whack


I know that it doesn’t happen but imagine retaining 110 trainees and they are all on £150k each…blimey 😅😭😭🤣


Shoosmith are on £90k as an NQ you know, that’s mad 😂 when did this happen


Travers announced they’re “not going to rush to raise salaries” given market conditions.


They are not gonna rush cos there is partner turmoil at the moment 😭😭



Can someone tell me which law firms are increasing their salaries recently? Any resources?? Would be helpful thnx.


Guys and gals, it’s confirmed pinset has also done an NQ pay rise;

“The move means that NQs in the London office will receive a salary of £97,000 upon qualification, up 5.4 per cent from the current ..” source – the lawyer

So Pinset earn more than Watson Farley, Stephenson Hardwood and Eversheds at NQ?! What are you guys doing lol


Do you think it’ll get to a point where a lawyer (excluding partners) could become a millionaire ?

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