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HSF hikes associate pay package to £105k as firms jostle for talent

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has joined the ranks of firms upping their associate pay commitments, boosting its compensation package to £105,000 including salary and bonuses.

The figure is a 13% increase on the £93,000 the Anglo-Australian firm announced last year. Though the firm would not disclose the underlying basic salary, the new structure is meant to place greater emphasis on associates’ performances and less on post-qualified experience (PQE).

‘It is important that we continue to attract and retain the best talent to deliver the service our clients expect and deserve,’ said HSF executive partner Ian Cox. ‘Newly-qualified associates – along with all our junior associates – represent a key pool of talent and the future of the firm.’

Despite the new focus on performance, HSF stressed the changes will not mark a radical departure from the associate salary structure introduced in 2018, when the firm announced that associates with two years PQE can earn up to £114,000.

The announcement comes after Linklaters became the last of the Magic Circle to unveil a significant pay hike yesterday (1 July), boosting the cash payable to NQs to £100,000 after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer went first in May with a big increase.

While the battle over associate pay continues to unfold, US players are still significantly ahead on associate remuneration.