Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has raised its newly-qualified (NQ) solicitor salary to £100,000, the first magic circle firm to do so.

It is an 18 per cent increase on the £85,000 Freshfields previously paid NQs. The firm set that rate in 2016. Trainee salaries remain unchanged however, at £45,000 for first-years and £51,000 for second-years.

The move is a reflection of the recruiting power of the American firms in London, many of which already lure graduates with NQ pay packets well in excess of £100,000. The other magic circle firms will almost certainly follow suit.

The now-collapsed American firm Bingham McCutchen became the first firm to pay NQs £100,000 in London back in 2010.

The current top of the market is in the region of £145,000 (tied to fluctuations in the US dollar), paid out by a number of American firms.

The pay rises took effect on 1 May.

The top of the market in London: a history

Top-paying firm Top-paying firm’s NQ salary NQ salary at Freshfields
1998 White & Case £45,000 £30,000
2001 Cleary Gottlieb £59,500 £33,000
2002 Sidley Austin £75,520 £50,000
2007 Latham & Watkins £88,000 £55,000
2008 Latham & Watkins £96,000 £65,000
2010 Bingham McCutchen £100,000 £59,000
2015 Akin Gump £100,000 £67,500
2016 Milbank & ors £124,000 £67,500
2018 Akin Gump & ors £143,000 £85,000
Freshfields nq salaries