HR teams play the final round of NQ salary “stick or rotate”.
Linklaters and Allen & Overy have both raised wages for their newly qualified lawyers to £125,000.
“We have increased our NQ salaries to £125,000 a year in line with the market,” an A&O spokesperson confirmed to RollOnFriday.
The increase follows earlier indications from both firms that they would oppose the city’s wage war. Last summer, Allen & Overy told its lawyers that the company was freezing employee salaries. While Linklaters sent an internal email to say it “wouldn’t rush to match salaries at NQ level”.
The 16% increase (at £107,500) was introduced by both firms on 1 May. Presumably it will go down better with A&O NQs than the £10 ‘Percy Pig bonus’ offered to some of the firm’s lawyers last year.
NQ’s base salary at Links and A&O is now comparable to other Magic Circle firms Clifford Chance and Freshfields. Slaughter and May is currently paying its NQs £115,000. While the Silver Circle firm, Herbert Smith Freehills, is in a similar range, paying its NQs £120,000.
However, given that it’s been a year since both Clifford Chance and Freshfields raised their NQ salary to £125,000, it remains to be seen whether those companies will raise in the near future, leaving their rivals baffled to catch up to catch up again.
The US ‘BigLaw’ firms with offices in London are playing chicken in a different field and still offer by far the biggest wedge to their junior lawyers.
The elite US firms have adopted the across-the-pond Cravath salary scale, which converts to British pound salaries when paid to lawyers in London. This has resulted in eye-watering amounts, particularly due to the favorable exchange rates of recent times (some NQs may still be bidding thanks to Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss on payday).
Members of the £170k+ club for NQ salary include Akin Gump, Kirkland & Ellis and Vinson & Elkins.
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