HSF raises NQ associate salaries to £135k

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By Legal Cheek on


Boosts for trainees too

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has increased salaries for its newly qualified (NQ) associates from £120,000 to £135,000, joining the growing list of City firms making similar moves.

The firm also confirmed a £6,000 increase in rookie salaries, with first year trainees earning £56,000 and second year trainees earning £61,000. The increases are effective from 1 September.

The 2024 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

The Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows HSF recruits around 65 trainees each year. The salary increase means the firm now matches Hogan Lovells, which raised its NQ rates to £135k last month.

Commenting on the firm’s salaries, Alison Brown, executive partner at HSF, said:

“We are investing in our people — including our trainees and associates across all levels of experience — in a way that ensures a balanced and competitive reward structure in a dynamic market. This approach keeps us in the leading pack of international law firms and supports sustainable growth: good for our people, our clients and our business.”



Kinda wanted them to Macs but I feel on balance HSF is probably one of the best firms when you take into account salary, work life balance, quality of work etc.

They would be not too hot not too cold if they were a porridge 😂


Macs is only an extra 5k. Works out an extra £100-200 per month post tax.


£100 a month? Where’d you get that figure from

Have you heard of tax rates?

If you drop those figures into the MSE income tax calculator, which is pretty accurate, allowing for no salary deductions and no student loans…

£140K gets you £7166 a month. £135K gets you £6945 a month.

That’s a whopping difference a month of…£221.
So £1 more than the original comment suggested, but that’s it.

Yes, under U.K. tax rates, £5000 more in salary a year gets you £2652 post tax a year. Welcome to working life in the UK

Some money mo’ tax

Same applies to a Scottish solicitor between £43-50k…

Be right if you’re going to be snappy

Such a patronising name for someone who thinks 221 is only 1 more than “100-200”.


Yup it is post tax.


Work-life balance at HSF is only marginally better than most MC firms (read: not good) – I wouldn’t list it as a significant perk.

HSF is an awkward middle child when it comes to comp and hours – most other HSF leavers I know either went elsewhere for a significant salary bump (but slightly worse hours) or a significant work-life balance improvement (but slightly worse salary).


Heyy everything has its pros and cons I’m just saying on balance, HSF is a good deal but if you’ve worked ofc you’ll have your own perspectives.


I rather have a good a salary where work/life balance is not too terrible which HSF have.

Also like everything else, it’s practice, team, culture and market dependent.

Rupert; US legend 🇺🇸 💵

Chicken feed…

I lol’d all the way to the bathroom!

Bullingdon; a tastier variety of lawyer 🇬🇧

I bet you didn’t make it…


Eh, Poopert?



I know legal cheek writers are tired 😅😂😂

Hopeful, doubtful

Any news from Travers?

Interested spectator

What do you reckon Bakers will increase their NQ salary to?



interested trainee

Wouldn’t it be in line with the recent SC increases and hogan Lovells?


One would think so but their raises have been underwhelming lately. Low expectations.

Disgruntled BM associate

With BM, you shouldn’t expect an increase more than 1-2k


something between £125-135k probably

S&M Associate

Not a big deal. I went into Coutts today (well it was NatWest actually as I didn’t quite meet the account threshold). I told them I had been expecting a raise to £150k in line with market movements of all my direct competitors but unfortunately I was being held at £125k to maximise the already market leading profits of my superiors, so wouldn’t meet the mortgage approval threshold for the small studio flat I wanted to buy in zone 2. The account manager told me, much to my delight, that when it comes to slaughters employees, we can also cash in our prestige points as sterling equivalent. I couldn’t believe my luck! So that’s one happy chappy who just got his 600k mortgage approved at 125k salary and 25k prestige uplift.


Is this still funny? What you call prestige, I call:

Working on every single major UK deal, especially listed deals (rest of the magic circle can’t say this)

Multi-specialism means your job is more interesting, and you are not going to be cut in bad times

Less DE+I stuff

No shame about being intellectually elite, having attended Oxbridge is not something to be embarrassed about

Regular pleb

“Less DE+I stuff”? Didn’t know that was a mark of prestige…


Genuine question: when I look at vac scheme photos there’s often between 2 and 4 white men out of a cohort of 20. That’s 10-20%. Do you consider that fair?


When I look at partners it’s about 2 and 4 ethnic minorities out of 100 white men, do you consider that fair?


“less DE+I stuff” oh yes what a perk…


You do not have a job at Slaughters because, working there, you would know half of this isn’t true.

For the record, plenty of firms still have oxbridge cliques.


I work in the post room at Slaughters but I get a good sense

Just the bare stats

Found the Slaughters partner raking in £3m+ a year, but paying his associates less than HSF, where partners make a third of that.

MC trainee that has a private bank

If you actually banked with a private bank, you’d know that the relationship you have with your allocated relationship manager (including, for example, where you work) could play a big role in the financing options they give you. If they know you work at a MC firm and are will be on 150k in 6 months, you will be able to obtain a better mortgage than you could ever get on the highstreets.

Nothing gets past this guy (or girl)


Forlorn Slaughters Associate

It’s a pity you didn’t mention Slaughters’ multi-specialist approach as well, I managed to get an extra 3% off my mortgage rate thanks to that!

Trainee CMS

My heart can’t take it anymore, CMS….


Lucky to be where you are tbh.


CMS are lucky they got the salary they have 🤣

Volunteer CMS Associate

Wait, are they paying you guys?

CMS trainee supervisor

Wind your neck in and finish my bundle

Grapes on the vine

How’s that bunching up the scale though?

Associate at proper big firm

The 15k increase is not much difference to DWF London trainee salary.


Is it true the Skadden are stopping offering training contracts in the UK?


Yes I’ve heard that too. They’ve disappeared from LC most list and some of their lawyers have gone to Paul Weiss. Scaling back in the UK to focus on US market.


Hey where’d you hear that from?


Opposite actually. Skadden looking to increase TC intake to Latham levels over the next 5 years in stages to build organic presence



Who’s next

Who’s rising next that’s non MC/US/SC?





DLA Further trainee



How long is your TC as a Further Trainee?

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