Herbies ups trainee and NQ pay, reinstates junior lockstep

Herbert Smith has increased pay bands for newly qualified (NQ) solicitors and trainees while keeping most associate pay bands at last year’s levels.

The firm has upped its pay for NQs from £60,000 to £61,000 while pay levels for first and second year trainees have risen by £500 to £38,000 and £43,000 respectively. The band for associates with three years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) has risen by just over 2 per cent, from £83,000 to £85,000.

A spokesman for the firm said: “There’s been a slight upward adjustment to ensure we remain competitive with our peers.”

An associate with one year’s PQE will continue to take home £68,000 while the salary for a lawyer with two-years’ PQE has remained static at £73,000.

The news comes after magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announced it would allow associates to progress through its lockstep after freezing their position on the ladder last year (25 February 2010).

While the firm initially kept all its pay bands frozen at last year’s levels, with associates getting a pay increase by progressing to the next pay band, the firm has since confirmed that it will be upping its NQ pay to £60,000 from £59,000. This is significantly lower than the £66,000 it paid NQs pre-recession.

Freshfields also confirmed that its pay for first-year trainees will remain unchanged at £39,000, while second year trainees will continue to receive £44,000.

The news comes after Slaughter and May announced last week that it would be moving associates up to the next pay band. The firm has not increased NQ or trainee solicitors’ salaries meaning NQs will continue to pocket £61,000.

This puts Slaughters’ NQ salary on a par with that at Allen & Overy (A&O), which has recently announced a rise in associate pay for all its lawyers. The salary for someone with two-years’ PQE  at A&O has gone from £65,000 to £74,000, while the three-year rate has increased to £85,000 from £71,500 (30 April 2010).

Clifford Chance and Linklaters have now emerged as the most generous employers in relation to NQ pay with both offering salaries of £61,500.