Clifford Chance cuts associate pay bands

Clifford Chance has reversed salary bands for its junior lawyers, with all associate pay frozen at current levels until the end of the 2009-10 financial year.

Clifford Chance has reversed salary bands for its junior lawyers, with all associate pay frozen at current levels until the end of the 2009-10 financial year.

The move will affect all non-partner lawyers and support staff across the firm’s global network with the exception of trainees, who will move up a pay band in their second year. In London, for example, first year trainees progressing to their second year will see pay increase from £37,400 to £42,000.

The announcement effectively reduces salary rates across the firm. Newly-qualified lawyers (NQs), who currently earn £66,600, will be paid £59,000 as of 1 September.

The current batch of NQs will remain on £66,000 when they progress to having one-year’s post qualification experience (PQE) in May. Those who currently have two and three years’ PQEs will continue to receive £82,200 and £89,500 respectively until the end of the 2009-10 financial year, despite gaining an extra year of experience.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer made a similar announcement last month, reversing salary bands for all junior lawyers with the exception of trainees (9 February).

Clifford Chance managing partner David Childs said: “The hard work and dedication of our people are not in question.  But the current unprecedented market conditions mean we need to continue to control our costs and, like all businesses, adapt to a particularly challenging year for us and for our clients.”

The firm has yet to make a decision on whether to pay bonuses. A spokesman said the decision to freeze pay was firmwide, but added: “Each office will make its own decision about whether bonuses can be paid this year. There’ll be regional differences.”