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Updated: Keeping up with the US – Freshfields and Clifford Chance match Cravath associate pay rates

In a bid to compete with its US rivals, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance have followed in the footsteps of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, matching the salaries of its US-based associates, bringing pay to $180,000.

In a memo sent out by Freshfields regional managing partner Adam Siegel seen by US publication Above The Law, the firm’s first and second year associates in its New York and Washington offices will receive $180,000 a year. Those who joined in 2007 or later will receive $325,000. The new salaries will come into effect on 1 July.

Similarly, Clifford Chance announced on Thursday (9 June) it would match the figures, and said US summer associates pay will be increased to the semi-monthly rate of $7,500.

The boost in pay comes after news broke earlier this week of Cravath’s first lift in associate pay in almost ten years. The firm’s first year associates will see a raise of $20,000 to their pay packets taking home $180,000. Associates at Cravath their seventh and eighth year will receive an extra $35,000 moving their salaries up to $300,000 and $315,000 respectively.

The pay hike led to similar rises from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Weil Gotshal & Manges, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Kirkland & Ellis and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. London salaries at Kirkland and Milbank will also match the US pay scales.  

Freshfields announced its associate pay for UK-based lawyers early last month, bumping up its newly-qualified salaries to £85,000, a rise of £17,500, which this year folded discretionary bonuses into salaries and £15,000. The move follows a freeze last year.

The firm 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 separate bonus, while those with two and three years’ 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.

Clifford Chance (CC) matched Freshfields’ associate pay, also awarding their NQs a £85,000 salary, a rise of £15,000 for CC which also included bonuses in its figures.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance US associate pay

Class of 2016 – $180,000

Class of 2015 – $180,000

Class of 2014 – $190,000

Class of 2013 – $210,000

Class of 2012 – $235,000

Class of 2011– $260,000

Class of 2010–$280,000

Class of 2009– $300,000

Class of 2009–$315,000

Class of 2007 and more senior -$325,000