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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the latest magic circle firm to announce a pay rise for its associates, rushing to the head of the pack of City firms who have already announced salary hikes.
The firm has awarded an average 19 per cent rise to associate base salaries. This means a newly qualified (NQ) lawyer’s pay at Freshfields now stands at £65,000, up from £55,000.
The percentage rise in salaries increases the more senior the associate is. The biggest leap seen for associates is three years’ post-qualification experience (PQE). These salaries leapt by 21.6 per cent, from £74,000 to £90,000.
But while A&O and Freshfields are vying for pole position in NQ base salary so far, A&O’s associates are not eligible for a bonus until they have two years’ PQE.
In contrast, all of Freshfields’ associates are eligible for a bonus once they have served six months as an NQ. From that point to three-years’ PQE, associates can earn a discretionary maximum bonus of £20,000, rising to £35,000 for more senior associates.
This means that a one-year PQE at A&O would earn £71,500 but at Freshfields, her counterpart could take home a maximum of £91,500 once the bonus is factored in.