Freshfields leads the way on pay

Firm’s merit-based remuneration system sees it top the pay league

Despite freezing its salary bands Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s new merit-based arrangement puts it well above UK peers by pay, even if the systems are not entirely comparable.

It stills pays its career milestone (CM) foundation lawyers (NQs in non-Freshfields-speak) £65,000-£72,500 depending on performance and excluding bonuses. This rises to £80,000-£92,500 for CM1, the next level up, £100,000-£107,500 for CM2 and at least £115,000 for CM3.

Associates move up bands when Freshfields sees fit. Trainees get £39,000 in their first year and £44,000 in their second.

The closest pay rival in the group is Linklaters, which awards £64,000 to NQs, £69,500 for lawyers at 1 PQE, £78,250 for 2 PQE and £89,000 for 3 PQE, while trainees start on £39,500.

Slaughter and May pays marginally less, at £63,000 for NQs, £69,500 for 1 PQEs, £78,000 for 2 PQEs and £87,500 for 3 PQEs, with trainees on £39,000 for first-years and £44,000 for second-years.

Allen & Overy now pays £61,500, £68,500, £74,500 and £86,000 to NQs and 1, 2 and 3 PQEs respectively. Trainees are on £38,000 in year one and £43,200 in year two.

Clifford Chance has not revealed its 2013/14 pay, but last year handed £61,500 to NQs plus a bonus of up to £12,300, while 1 PQEs were on £69,000 (bonus of up to £20,700), 2 PQEs took £76,300 (plus maximum bonus of £22,890) and 3 PQEs earned £87,000 (plus up to £26,100).