Herbies u-turns on trainee pay-freeze

Herbert Smith has become the second firm in recent weeks to renege on its decision to freeze junior lawyer salaries.

The top ten City law firm announced today (19 June) that it will be hiking first year trainee solicitor pay by 4 per cent from £36,000 to £37,500 with effect from 1 September. Meanwhile, second year trainees will benefit from a 6 per cent increase from £40,000 to £42,500.

Herbert Smith announced in April that it would be freezing its associate and trainee salary rates, leaving a newly qualified solicitor (NQ) on £64,000. Lawyers with one year’s post-qualification experience (PQE) pocket £69,000 with those with two years’ PQE earning £81,000.

Rates for NQs, who saw their salaries jump by 16.4 per cent last year, will remain unchanged but will be reviewed later in the year.

A Herbert Smith spokesperson said: “We’re committed to being competitive with our peer firms on remuneration. We were one of the first firms to announce our decision to freeze salaries. But after that announcement other peer firms raised their salary bands so we then did some further deliberation.”

“We decided to announce the new bands this week to coincide with the start of our vacation schemes. It’s important to send a strong and clear message to potential future recruits. For some students, remuneration can be a tipping point between different firms,” added the spokesperson.

As first reported on Lawyer2B.com last week (11 June) Olswang backtracked on its decision not to raise its NQ salaries. NQ pay at Olswang has now been hiked at a below inflation rate of 2.4 per cent, bring the salary level to £63,500.

The new salary bands for trainees and NQ’s can be found on the Lawyer2B.com salary index.