Freshfields cuts back bonuses in Germany

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has cut its end of year bonuses for German senior associates. Sources at the firm say that the move was a response to changes in senior associate salary levels at rival law firms.

Freshfields pays its German senior associates bonuses at the end of May and November. The bonuses usually amount to 5 per cent of salary, but they are based on the performance and profitability of the firm so they can be changed without reference to the associates.

Last year’s November bonus was cut from 5 per cent of salary to 3 per cent, but sources at the firm say that the May bonus may still be paid out at 5 per cent.

Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance changed their salary bands for associates last year. Associate pay was not actually cut, as it is illegal under German law to cut pay, but the bands were changed so that as associates become more senior they are given smaller pay rises than they would have received the year before.