Sidley increases NQ associate salaries to £175,000 in London

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By Legal Cheek on


Rises for rookies too

US law firm Sidley Austin has raised the salaries of its newly qualified associates in London from an already impressive £166,500 to £175,000.

The rise will take effect on 1 July and equates to an extra £8,500 or 5%.

The firm’s trainees have also received pay increases, with first-year salaries rising from £55,000 to £60,000 and second-year salaries from £60,000 to £65,000.

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List 2024 shows that Sidley’s NQs now earn the same salaries as their counterparts at Goodwin Procter and are understood to be ahead of those at firms like Vinson & Elkins and Kirkland & Ellis.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

This latest increase follows a wave of salary raises among Magic Circle firms, elevating A&O Shearman, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, and Linklaters to an NQ figure of £150,000. Trainees have also seen a boost, with their first-year pay rising to £56,000 and second-year to £61,000.

Earlier this week, Legal Cheek reported that Hogan Lovells had increased NQ salaries to £135,000 in London, while those in the Birmingham office will now earn £85,000.


Twelve cats eating Yorkshire pudding

I recognise the NQ market for a lateral is in turmoil, however I still think the increases in salaries at top level will trickle down.

The MC (bar Slaughters as per) have all jumped 25k. Hogan Lovells have jumped 15k and presumably SC will respond. All it takes is one firm in the tier to make a move and the rest follow suit.

Sure I recognise that the lateral market is terrible and so firms may not feel as pressured to match raises if they know their juniors aren’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t stop their current staff becoming disgruntled with the firm and looking to jump ship the moment the market settles.

Truth Serum

People forget that NQ salary increases aren’t aimed solely at NQs.

NQ pay should really just be called the “baseline salary”.

All of these Magic Circle and US firms increasing their NQ salary are not doing it for the NQs, they are doing it to retain associates from 2-7PQE level.

That is who it is currently aimed at as this is where most of the lateral hiring is being done.

I agree the NQ market is abysmal and there are hardly any roles going, but these salary increases were never to attract new NQs, it’s to retain junior talent.


Precisely this.

Why would you increase the salary so that the NQ is paid £135k whilst the 3PQE is still paid £115k?

It isn’t just aimed at the newly qualified level.

I am the lord of the bus said he

Isn’t the end of result the same though?

Regardless of the reasoning, firms are still going to increase NQ salaries (to keep 2-7PQEs happy)?

Comprehension is a dying art

You’ve missed the point lmao.

The first commenter was saying the NQ market is in turmoil and firms may not feel as pressured to match raises if they know their juniors aren’t going anywhere.

The other commenter who responded was saying the salary increases are not aimed at NQs.

Sure the end result is the same but the reasoning the first commenter gave was not correct which is what was pointed out.

Hope this helps.

You don’t understand

Wrong. Completely wrong.

They only care about NQ rates. It’s well known that the junior lawyers in PQE 1-4 are really closely bunched. And yes there will be NQs somewhere being paid more than PQE1 and 2. It happens.

Trickle Pickle

There will be a trickle down effect and we are already seeing it with a few firms increasing.

My opinion:

Firms like Travers, Macs, Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Mayer Brown, Norton Rose etc should follow suit with Hogan Lovells and be on 135-140k if they wanna stay competitive

Firms like CMS, BCLP, DLA, Simmons, Reed Smith etc should be on 125k in this market if they want to stay competitive and also to reflect their deal size/work/hours.

They have

Macs raising to 140. TS to 139 and NRF to 135k

Paywars no1 fan

If this is true and the SC are raising to around 140, the impact on US firms still paying 150 will be devastating.
If you’re a prospective candidate choosing between NRF/HogLov or W&C/Covington, surely you’d take the 10k paycut (only approx £450/month after tax) for less of a beasting in a nicer environment?

NRF Associate

Where’s this intel coming from? NRF just raised NQs to 125k and won’t be raising again anytime soon..


No… as senior associates get paid 340 + 100 GBP bonus at US versus half that at SC

Show me the money



Ketchup or mayo if you have it.


“I recognise that the lateral market is terrible and so firms may not feel as pressured to match raises if they know their juniors aren’t going anywhere”

This is categorically not true.

The lateral NQ market is dire.

The lateral market for juniors (2-4PQE) level is still doing okay.

Firms are not increasing their salaries for NQs. They are doing for juniors 2PQE and up.


“Firms are not increasing their salaries for NQs. They are doing for juniors 2PQE and up.”

Sorry to be thick but can you explain please? Aren’t they increasing the NQ salaries to attract them to stay put for a few years upon qualifying? So it’s not for the 2PQE and up etc…


The lateral/external NQ market is dead right now. There is no incentive for firms to increase their salaries for the NQs because the NQs are not going anywhere anytime soon as the market is very dire. In the current market, NQs will likely stay put as there are not many roles going at most firms at the NQ level.

The salary increases are aimed at 2PQE and up which is where the hiring trend is currently at. Firms don’t want to lose their junior associates to other firms which is what is happening in the lateral market right now.

When you hear about these firms increasing “NQ salary” what they are really increasing is their baselines salaries for all associates at junior level. This is what salary bunching means.


So really, it’s a subtle way of saying they are raising salaries of those above NQ? But then isn’t there not going to be much raise for each year of PQE? Wouldn’t junior associates want to look elsewhere if say, 1PQE pays 150k, 2PQE 155k etc

Non-Russell Final Year

Most firms bunch the same way sadly

Needs his hand held

Sorry to labour the point, but I wonder why firms wouldn’t just increase the salaries of 2-7 PQEs in that case. NQ and 1PQE salary stays the same, but there’s a 20k bump for everyone after that. Why isn’t that even considered?

Rupert; you know the name, you know the game 🇺🇸


Chicken feed, dear boy/girl/nonbinary.


Not Bullingdon Boi

Getting boring now, Poopert.

mc who?

Can we stop pretending Slaughters is MC? Not denying it’s a good firm but it’s objectively closer to Macs or Travers than CC or Links and thus wrong to even compare with them


I have found that every 2-3 rounds of NQ raises it is aimed at the rest of the lawyers. Only then do you actually see much of an increase as they bunch up the salaries for the others.


Every time a firm raises salary fewer NQ roles will become available. Most US firms aren’t performing well financially and would therefore be reluctant to recruit.

Another one bites the dust

Whoop whos rising next that’s non US/MC/SC???

Run it

Isn’t Stephenson and Dentons riding to 115k??

Legal Recruiter (UAE)

Seems like firms are only focusing on London for now. No pay rises at any of the UAE offices of the Magic Circle firms. Have spoken to numerous candidates who have complained about the lack on internal communication about pay rises in London. It seems like partners in the UAE are hoping to ignore the issue. Unfortunately this seems to be breeding a lot of discontent. With many of the US firms in the region looking to hire junior and senior associates the Magic Circle will once again lose talent if they don’t respond.


No one cares.

Silly Goose

If you moved to UAE that’s your fault. No pity for overseas/offshore lawyers: you moved there for a reason.

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