Editor’s weekly: Let the good times roll…

Are the good times finally returning? Well, that depends on which way you look at it.

The start of May typically coincides with law firms announcing new pay bands for their trainee solicitors and associates.

And if you’ve been keeping a close eye on Lawyer2B.com this week then you won’t have failed to notice that Clifford Chance and Linklaters have both emerged as the most generous employers in relation to NQ pay, with both offering salaries of £61,500.

This compares to rival magic circle firms Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, who both pay their NQs £61,000 and £59,000 respectively. (See story)

So many of you might be thinking that these rises are a sign that things are picking up and some of you may just be glad not to see the words “pay” and “freeze” together in any of our headlines, right?

Well it all does look good on the surface but it’s not until you start digging a bit deeper you begin to see that these “pay hikes” are a little on the disappointing side.

Linklaters has actually maintained its current  salary rates after reducing them 12 months ago in the wake of the recession but, on the bright side, it’s allowing associates to move up the lockstep again.

This year, a newly qualified lawyer at Linklaters will earn £61,500, while someone with one year’s post-qualification experience (PQE) will take home £68,000. This figure compares to £70,400 for a one-year PQE in 2008.

Freshfields associates will now also move through the salary bands as before, but will not make up the difference by skipping a band. But NQ pay will stay at £59,000 with a one-year PQE lawyer taking home £66,000.

However, City law firms are still paying eye-watering salaries compared with other industries.

And I’m sure many of you without training contracts in place at the moment would be glad with just that. The whopping paycheques would just been an added bonus.