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Allen & Overy Germany has changed its assistant salary bands, in some instances reducing them by E10,000 (£6,600)
A&O says that the changes are to bring them into line with competitors.
Although no associates will have their salaries cut, at this year's annual pay review associates will receive a smaller increase than associates of their seniority did last year. A five-year qualified associate will earn E10,000 less than than they would have done last year.
The re-jig will only affect associates who are more than three-years qualified.
A source said: "As a prime example of communication within the firm in Germany, associates have not been officially informed of this downward adjustment. Only associates who recently entered a new grade have been notified."
A&O's German senior partner Arndt Overlack defended the move. He told The Lawyer: "This was not due to the financial situation of the firm, it was a market competitiveness issue."