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This year’s first round of associate salary reviews has been an all-round disappointment. Although there were several pay-freezes and a couple of modest increases, unlike during the previous downturn there have been no cuts, as this year firms have been buffered by strong financials carrying through from the first half-year.
Herbert Smith led the pessimism in April by freezing salaries across the board. Allen & Overy (A&O) also froze associate salaries, but managed to remain competitive with its magic circle rivals’ conservative increases.
NQs in the magic circle now find themselves in close proximity, earning between £65,000 at A&O and £66,600 at Clifford Chance and Linklaters.
Despite A&O’s freeze and Freshfields’ cautious 2 per cent increase, their threeyear PQEs earn £92,500 and £92,000 respectively – a little more than Clifford Chance’s £89,500 and Linklaters’ £90,800.
Simmons & Simmons, meanwhile, froze first-year trainee salaries and upped its NQ pay by only £500.
The mid-market saw a little more life, with Bird & Bird hiking trainee salaries by 19 per cent and NQ salaries by £5,000, or 9 per cent, to £60,000. Berwin Leighton Paisner is yet to announce NQ salaries, but in the meantime raised one year-PQE wages by 6 per cent to £70,000.