Legal Business Blogs

Bumper pay hike for newly qualifieds at Freshfields as firm folds bonus into salary

Newly qualified solicitors at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have an extra £17,500 in their pay packets this year after the firm announced it has folded a discretionary bonus into NQ salaries from 1 May.

The firm has boosted the amount NQs will receive, with their pay set to rise to 26% to £85,000 on last year’s figure of £67,500. However, the significant increase means NQs are no longer eligible for a discretionary bonus as this is now included in salaries. The firm noted the new structure exceeds the amount the previous salary and a bonus would draw for NQs. Earlier this week, Slaughter and May announced that it had increased NQ pay by 2% to £71,500.

In March, Linklaters announced its NQs could take home at least £81,000 including bonus, with high performers on average earning £91,000. This is up on the basic £68,500 salary newly-qualified lawyers at Linklaters earned last year.

Trainees at Freshfields will now be paid £500 a year more than Slaughters, with the firm also announcing a 5% increase in first-year trainee salaries from £41,000 to £43,000 while year two trainees will receive £48,000, a £2,000 increase (+4%).

The firm has also unveiled pay increases for junior associates. Those with one year’s post-qualified experience (PQE) sit within the same pay band as NQs – its ‘career milestone foundation’ (CMF) level and will also not receive a bonus, while those with two and three year’s PQE, who fall within its career milestone (CM1) band, will see pay rising to between £105,000 and £115,000, up from £87,500 and £100,000.

In addition to the salary changes, the firm also announced today (6 May) it would enable its fee-earners to work on an agile basis for up to 20% of their time.

London managing partner Julian Long said the firm’s ability to attract and retain talented lawyers is critical to its success.

‘Our combination of high-quality work, client interaction and global platform mean that our trainees and associates experience an outstanding start to their career,’ Long said. ‘Obviously we should not underestimate the need to be competitive with regards to pay in our market; we believe that making changes across the board for our trainees and associates maintains our strong position as one of the most attractive firms in the market.’

Freshfields pay increases in full:

Year one trainee: £43,000 (increased from £41,000) +5%

Year two trainee: £48,000 (increased from £46,000) +4%

CMF (NQs and one-year PQE): £85,000 (increased from £67,500) +26%

CM1 (2 and 3 years’ PQE): between £105,000 and £115,000 (increased from between £87,500 and £100,000) +15-20%