Trainees face pay freeze as firms tighten the belt

Trainee solicitors and newly qualified (NQ) lawyers across the City have been hit with pay freezes as law firms attempt to claw back overheads in response to the recession.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer was the first major firm to announce it was reversing its associate salary bands, with newly qualified (NQ) salaries dropping from £66,000 to £59,000. The salary for first and second-year trainees will remain unchanged at £39,000 and £44,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, fellow magic circle firms Allen & Overy (A&O), Clifford Chance and Linklaters, as well as Slaughter and May, have also slammed the brakes on salary hikes.

First and second-year trainees at A&O will be paid £38,000 and £42,200 respectively. NQ rates are still under review. Clifford Chance has frozen pay at current levels until the end of the 2009-10 financial year. In London, first-year trainees progressing to their second year will see pay rise from £37,400 to £42,000. NQs, who currently earn £66,600, will be paid £59,000 from 1 September.

Linklaters has also frozen first and second-year trainee salaries at £37,400 and £43,200 respectively, while NQ salaries have been slashed by 7.6 per cent to £61,500.

Slaughters has kept trainee salaries at its 2008-09 levels – £38,000 and £43,000 respectively.

Those starting at Herbert Smith can expect to be paid £37,500 in their first year and £42,500 in their second, with NQ salaries being reduced from £64,000 to £60,000.

Norton Rose starters will receive £35,700 and £40,200 in their first and second years, and NQ salaries have gone down from £63,500 to £59,000.

Meanwhile, Lovells will be paying first and second-year trainees £37,000 and £42,000, while NQs will be paid £59,000.

Simmons & Simmons starters will be paid £36,000 and £40,000 with its NQ salaries under review.