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Updated: A&O freezes NQ and trainee pay as it ups associate salaries; Linklaters announces increases across board

Allen & Overy (A&O) revealed today (8 May) that it will hold trainee and newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers’ pay at 2013 levels, while Linklaters has unveiled pay increases for all associates and trainees.

A&O has, however, raised its senior associate entry level salary by £5,000, up from £100,000 to £105,000, a level that has remained unchanged for some time.

A spokesperson for the firm said in a statement today: ‘We will be increasing the entry level salary for senior associates from 1 May 2014. Having raised salaries for other associates in November 2013, pay for all grades below senior associate will remain unchanged from 1 May 2014.’

The one-off increase for associates in November came after A&O fell behind its rivals on the associate pay table, having frozen its pay in May 2013.

The November increase saw NQ lawyers’ pay upped to £64,000 from £61,500, one-year post-qualified experience (1PQE) associate pay raised to £69,500, 2PQE increased from £74,500 to £78,500, and 3PQE up to £89,000 from £86,000.

A&O has also kept trainee pay at last year’s level, meaning its first year trainees will earn £39,000, while second year trainees will take home £44,000 – both less than the £39,500 and £45,000 respectively that Slaughter and May now offers.

Meanwhile, Linklaters has increased its pay bands for associates. As of 1 May 2014, first-seat trainees saw pay increase by £500 to £40,000, while NQ pay rises by £1,000 to £65,000.

And while pay for a one year PQE associate is up by £1,000 to £70,500, two and three years PQE have seen much more substantial increases, up by £3,750 and £4,500 to £82,000 and £93,500 respectively. These increases are significantly higher than this time last year, when pay rose by £2,250 for two years PQE and just £1,000 for three-year qualified associates.

In December, Linklaters announced the introduction of a performance-based element to salaries for its London-based associates with two years or more post-qualification experience as part of what it dubbed its ‘Our Deal’ strategy.

Last year, Freshfields led the pack on associate pay, awarding £65,000 to NQs, £72,500 to 1PQE, £80,000 to 2PQE and £90,000 to 3PQE, meaning that the firm will remain ahead on pay even if its freezes salaries at 2013 levels.

Clifford Chance, meanwhile, ahead of any announcements for 2014, currently pays £63,500 (NQ); £69,500 (1PQE); £78,200 (2PQE) and £87,800 (3PQE).