Trainees due to qualify this September will see their pay dip from £50,000 to £48,000 per year. Associates at Clifford Chance will see their average pay increase drop to just over 4 per cent from a previous 6.7 per cent in 2002-03.
Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters, however, have all confirmed to Lawyer 2B that they will not be following the rival magic circle firm's lead, and that newly-qualifieds' pay will remain static at £50,000.
With SJ Berwin, Clifford Chance was the instigator of the 2000 salary war, as UK firms sought to rival the salaries on offer at US firms' London offices. The firm then racked up its newly-qualified rate to £42,000 with its main rivals quickly following suit.
This time it seems that Clifford Chance will be alone in moving its salaries downwards.
Many US firms continue to pay their London associates significantly more. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, for example, pays its newly-qualified lawyers in London £88,000 - the same rate as the firm's New York associates.
In a related move, it
is understood that Clifford Chance is making around 20 associates in its corporate department redundant, while a number of other lawyers have been redeployed.