Freshfields freezes associate salaries but bumps trainee pay

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has frozen its associate salary bands but remains at the top of the magic circle for remuneration at most levels. 

The firm decided to cap its pay for 2015/16 after storming ahead of the rest of the pack since it launched its career milestone (CM) merit-based system in 2012. It raised associate pay last year after freezing it in 2013.

Its current system sees it pay its top performers more than any other London-headquartered firm, despite pay increases among the rest of the magic circle this year. Just Allen & Overy is yet to announce its stance on salaries.

Exclusive research by The Lawyer revealed that between 2010 and 2014, Freshfields upped its salaries at a faster rare than the remainder of the magic circle, increasing (top of band) salaries by an average of 69 per cent.

As it stands, salaries for CM foundation lawyers stand at between £67,500 and £77,500. CM1 lawyers earn between £87,500 to £100,000 while CM2 salaries range from £107,500 and £115,000 and CM3 wages run from £120,000 to £135,000. CM foundation equates to NQ while CM1 stands at 2PQE. 

The firm hiked trainee salaries by £500, or 1 per cent, this year following the first increase in five years in 2014. First-year salaries have risen from £40,500 to £41,000 while second-year salaries have jumped from £45,500 to £46,000.

Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Slaughter and May have all revealed their salaries for 2015/16 with Allen & Overy the last magic circle firm to do so. NQ pay now stands at £70,000 at both Clifford Chance and Slaughters while Linklaters NQs will be paid £68,500. 2 PQE lawyers are now paid a minimum of £83,250 at Linklaters and £87,000 at Slaughter and May. At Clifford Chance 2 PQEs will receive £88,000.