Freshfields breaks ground with £100k NQ pay

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer now has the most generous pay package for newly qualified (NQ) solicitors among the UK’s Magic Circle firms.

The firm has upped its pay for starting lawyers by 18%, or £15,000, to become the first among Magic Circle firms to pay NQs £100,000, according to the Law Society Gazette.

In addition to the generous salary, junior lawyers at Freshfields also qualify for a discretionary bonus. The pay package became effective 1 May.

Clifford Chance pays NQs £91,000, including bonuses, Legal Cheek said. The NQ pay at Allen & Overy, Linklaters, and Slaughter and May is £83,000.

Freshfields’ newly announced pay raise for junior lawyers puts it on par with Covington & Burling. It’s just short of Sullivan & Cromwell at £101,500 and the £105,000 NQ pay packages at White & Case, Shearman & Sterling, and Jones Day.

US giants pay NQ lawyers the most. Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld, Debevoise & Plimpton, Kirkland & Ellis, and Latham & Watkins all reportedly pay NQs £143,000.

Next are Milbank at £132,000; Sidley Austin and Weil Gotshal & Manges at £130,000; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Davis Polk & Wardwell, and Ropes & Gray at £120,000; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom at £118,000; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher at £112,500; and Dechert at £110,000.