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.

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