Magic circle duo gives boost to NQ pay packets

The latest salary reviews point to a slight recovery in the legal market, as two magic circle firms raise newly qualified (NQ) pay.

Allen & Overy, the first firm to announce the results of its 2012 pay review, has boosted NQ pay to £61,500, up from £61,000, after freezing its salary bands for two years.

The firm froze 2009-10 and 2010-11 salary bands at 2008-09 levels ­following sluggish financial years.

NQ salary at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will sit between £65,000 and £72,000 after the firm introduced its new merit-based ­remuneration system. NQ level will now be considered as the ’Career Milestone Foundation’.

This was a massive increase from 2010-11 levels, where NQs received £61,500.

Elsewhere, Linklaters has for the third year in a row frozen NQ salary bands at £61,500, despite lifting the freeze on other associate pay.

Those with one-year post-qualification experience (PQE) are up from £68,000 to £69,000, two-year PQE will earn £76,000, up from £73,000, and three-year PQE will receive £88,000, an increase from £85,000 last year.

The magic circle firm also upped the amount earned by trainees in their first seat to £39,000, up from £37,400 in 2010-11.

Slaughter and May also has frozen its NQ pay at £61,500, and the ­majority of its other associate pay bands.

However, the firm offered a ­marginal increase to those with two-year PQE, with an rise of less than 1 per cent up from £76,000 to £76,500 for 2011-12.

The news comes as top city firms announce staff cuts due to the ­economic pinch, with Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith suggesting they are axing associates to make way for new trainees (The Lawyer, 7 May).

As reported in The Lawyer (see News Review, page 14), Clifford Chance dismissed 13 City associates due to low attrition, while Herbert Smith cut 51 jobs in London.

To follow the results of all the latest salary reviews keep an eye on Lawyer2B.com