Despite post-Brexit referendum market turbulence, independent firms Travers Smith and Macfarlanes have both elevated their newly-qualified (NQ) pay levels, with the former matching Slaughter and May’s newly-qualified pay level of £71,500.
Travers NQs will receive £71,500, while 1PQE solicitors receive £79,000, 2PQE get £91,000 and 3PQEs receive £100,000 3PQE.
Macfarlanes also pushed up its pay brackets, raising NQ pay to £71,000 and 1PQE to £77,000-£79,000, 2PQE to £80,000-£88,000 and 3PQE to £85,000-£98,000, with the firm not using a fixed lockstep.
Solicitors’ salary bonuses were lifted from a maximum of 15% to 25% paid in July, as well as the addition of a potential uncapped firm wide bonus in October dependent on the Macfarlanes’ performance.
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) also recently ploughed into the City salary war with a boost to associate pay, raising NQ base salaries to between £82,000 and £90,000.
While in May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announced it had folded its discretionary bonus system into NQ salaries, leaving young lawyers with an extra £17,500 in their pockets with pay rising 26% to £85,000.
The salary rises come amidst fears from some UK firms of pay freezes after a challenging first half of 2016 and market volatility post-EU referendum.
Staff at BLP were notified of their pay freeze on Tuesday (5 July). The move will affect all UK-based staff apart from partners who take a share of the profits. Pay reviews were postponed as of 1 July until 1 November 2016.
On Tuesday (5 July), Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) became the first firm to freeze pay for UK staff following the referendum to leave the EU. The firm’s income has fallen 2% to £254m in 2015/16. BLP said the salary freeze for associates, paralegals, business development and other back-office staff was the ‘prudent thing to do’.