Legal Business Blogs

Change was necessary: Ashurst joins the war for talent with 9% NQ pay raise

City stalwart Ashurst has followed suit with peers in the Square Mile to raise the salary for newly-qualified solicitors (NQs), upping the ante to £105,000 including bonuses.

The move will mean a 9% pay increase for NQs, who were previously in line for maximum remuneration of £96,600, effective from the 2020 financial year.

Ashurst London managing partner Ruth Harris (pictured) said: ‘Following a very successful year, we have continued to review our remuneration in order to remain as competitive as possible. We believe a change was necessary and the adjustments will ensure that we continue to attract and retain the best staff.’

The hike is the latest in a spate across the City, started in May by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in a bid to tackle head-on the longstanding war on talent with US rivals in London. It raised its NQ salary by £15,000 to £100,000 plus discretionary bonuses, paving the way for similar moves from the rest of the Magic Circle and other competing firms.

Clifford Chance (CC) followed a month later with £100,000 including bonus, a package matched by Slaughter and May the following week. Allen & Overy then set the same rate, matched by Linklaters earlier this month.

Beyond the Magic Circle, Travers Smith this week increased its NQ salaries by 8% to £85,000 after Macfarlanes added 6% to its base pay to reach £85,000.

Ashurst has seen a remarkable reversal over the last three years under the leadership of global managing partner Paul Jenkins who, on Tuesday (9 July), said the firm was aiming to reach profit per equity partner (PEP) of £1m in the next financial year.

After three consecutive years of growth, Ashurst added £77m to its top line to hit £641m for the year to 30 April 2019, a significant 14% increase on the £564m turnover of last year.PEP soared a market-leading 31% to £972,000 from last year’s £743,000.

The results were especially striking given the firm’s financial struggles after its 2013 merger with Australia’s Blake Dawson. Jenkins’ tenure as global managing partner since 2016 has seen a strong 27% uptick in revenue and a 61% hike in PEP from £603,000 in what was a disastrous 2015/16 financial year.

To read more on Ashurst’s unlikely rebound, see Inflection point (£)