What are you worth?

Newly qualified (NQ) and trainee solicitors across the City have been celebrating after receiving another wave of inflation busting pay rises with 64,000 now the new benchmark for NQ pay.

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER SALARY WAR
The salary war was kicked-off by Clifford Chance this year. The magic circle firm announced, in April, that it is boosting associate and trainee pay by around 15 per cent. With effect from 1 May NQ, first year trainee and second year salaries at Clifford Chance were increased to 63,500, 35,700 and 40,300 respectively.

Magic circle rival Allen & Overy (A&O), which triggered last years salary war fired the next shot. Following the increase (the second since November 2006) NQs at the firm will earn 64,900. Trainees at A&O, however, missed out on further salary increases leaving their salaries at 35,700 for year one and 40,300 for year two.

The remaining magic circle firms Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer quickly followed Clifford Chances lead. NQs at Linklaters saw their salaries bumped up to 64,000 from 55,100. Freshfields, meanwhile, now offers the highest NQ salaries, boosting pay by 10,000 to 65,000. Freshfields has also increased its trainee salaries to 38,000 and 43,000 for first and second year trainees respectively.

Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and Slaughter and May have all bolstered their NQ pay to 63,500 and first year trainee salaries to 36,000. Norton Rose has also boosted its NQ salary to 63,500 but its first year trainees are paid slightly less at 35,000. The firms second year salaries have been upped to 40,200.

Ashust, CMS Cameron McKenna and Herbert Smith meanwhile, have boosted NQ pay to 64,000. First year trainees at all three firms are now paid 36,000 and second years are on 40,000. SJ Berwin, meanwhile, has also upped it NQ salaries to 64,000 and first year trainee pay to 36,000.

Further down the pecking order Berwin Leighton Paisner has boosted its NQ pay to 62,000. Meanwhile, first year trainees have seen their pay increase by 3,000 to 33,000. First year trainees at BLP are also paid a 2,500 golden hello.

Of the remaining top 20 UK firms, associates and trainees at Addleshaw Goddard, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Hammonds and Taylor Wessing are still waiting for find out how much their salaries will be increased by.

BONUSES

Although pay hikes attract some of the biggest headlines and fill column inches bonuses are equally important. Once the preserve of the investment banking sector bonuses now play a major role in remuneration packages, as revealed Lawyer2B.coms sister magazine, The Lawyer.

The Lawyers groundbreaking research, published last October, found that Linklaters offers the most generous associate bonuses in the City. It is the only top 10 City firm that offers both its trainees and associates a performance-related bonus of up to 40 per cent as well as a firmwide bonus.

The survey revealed that Slaughters was the only top 10 City firm, which did not offer bonuses. But shortly after The Lawyers survery was published the firm announced that it is to launch a discretionary 15 per cent bonus for all associates and trainees.