One quarter believe City NQs not paid enough

Nearly a quarter of Lawyer2B readers believe that newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors at City firms should be paid more than at present.

In total, 24 per cent answered the question ‘Should City firms cut salaries for newly qualified lawyers?’ with the answer ‘No, they should pay them more ‘. Almost half, 48 per cent, believed that NQs worked hard enough to justify their current salaries.

However, 16 per cent stated that they thought NQs were paid too much while 12 per cent believed that clients’ budget restrictions should be passed down to NQs.

Readers were responding to the message last week from legal recruitment consultants that City NQ salaries should be cut significantly to halt an exodus to the in-house and regional markets (20 March 2013).

Kristi Edwards and Scott Gibson of recruitment consultants Edwards Gibson cautioned that work being passed from City firms to the regions would continue due to lack of work as City firms charged too much for their NQs’ work.

Gibson said: “They’re not popular among consumers of legal services and increasingly we’re seeing in-house lawyers saying ‘I’m not paying that’.”

He said the ‘gold standard’ for a serious City offering was around £60,000 but recommended that firms lowered the wage to £50,000 for NQs in non-premium practice areas.

Edwards called attention to the change in associate pay, which is now merit-based at most firms, while highlighting the fact that NQ lawyers are still initially paid a uniform sum, regardless of the practice area into which they qualify.

“One size fits all compensation does not make economic sense,” she said.

Recruiters last month said that demand for NQs had fallen among top firms (26 February 2013).