Clifford Chance has decreased its newly-qualified (NQ) salaries, the second magic circle firm to backtrack on the generous £100,000 package that was offered by the biggest City outfits last year.

The firm has cut its offering by 5 and a half per cent to £94,500.

The firm had, in 2019, raised its salary for newly-qualified solicitors from £91,000 to £100,000, following the lead of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in a trend that saw other big players doing the same.

Unlike Freshfields, however, the £100,000 paid by Clifford Chance was its total compensation package, including bonuses, rather than base salary.

The Lawyer understands that trainee salaries haven’t been altered.

The news follows that of Allen & Overy, which The Lawyer revealed yesterday was dropping NQ salaries too from a minimum of £100,000 to £90,000.

Due to the current situation, some big firms are reconsidering the salary hikes they had opted for in an effort to rival the paying power of the American firms in London, some of which now pay in excess of £130,000 to their newly qualified solicitors.

Slaughter and May was the first one to reduce salaries for newly qualified solicitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. NQs qualifying in September will now receive £87,000, a reduction on the £92,000 base salary that this year’s crop take home.

Linklaters is currently in the process of deciding how to proceed in relation to its own NQ salary.

In spite of the current economic headwinds, The Lawyer reported that  Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) are both expecting to pay their NQs at the same rate as last year, with Freshfields understood to be maintaining its £100,000 package (plus bonus) and HSF also sticking to its salary meaning NQs could pick up a high of £105,000.