…while Biddle pay soars to £;45,000

Biddle has introduced a payment scheme for its newly-qualified assistants which could see them earn as much as £45,000.

After completing their traineeship, lawyers will be paid £37,000 a year, £5,000 more than last year.

But the firm has also introduced a bonus scheme of between five and 25 per cent, dependent on individual performance, which will apply to trainees too.

Those who are one-year post-qualified will also receive a 3 per cent pension supplement to spend how they choose.

This will rise to 5 per cent three years after post-qualification.

It means that a 12-month qualified lawyer could potentially earn £47, 360 in one year.

Like Macfarlanes (see story, right), Biddle has no intention of increasing chargeable hours, which are considerably lower at 1,320 a year.

But Martin Webster, partner with responsibility for personnel issues at Biddle, says: “If they generate £150,000-£200,000 in fees, it will pay for itself.”

He adds that if the bonus scheme had been in place last year, most assistants would have been receiving additional payments of between 20 and 25 per cent.

The remuneration package has been introduced in an attempt to encourage the best talent to join the firm.

Webster says: “Few people make a decision about a job solely on pay but of course it is a factor and you are daft if you think it is not.

“So you have not really got a choice. If you want the people with the brains then you have got to pay the best rates.

“It was not difficult for me to persuade my partners that we needed to be up there.”

Profits last year at the 32-partner firm, which grossed £13m in fees, stood at £170,000 a partner on average.