Hogan Lovells has cut salaries for its UK newly-qualified (NQ) associates and frozen pay for its second year trainees.

The firm has trimmed its London NQ associate salary by 5.5 per cent to £85,000, while in Birmingham it is down to £46,000. The cuts come as a protective measure sparked by the Covid-19 crisis, which also includes postponing UK salary and discretionary bonus reviews for lawyers until later in the year.

In 2019, NQs at Hogan Lovells could earn a potential total pay package of up to £117,000, which included a bonus. As part of a fierce pay war for junior lawyers, the firm boosted its NQ base rate by £12,000 (15 per cent) to £90,000, with discretionary bonuses of up to 30 per cent.

Hogan Lovells has also reviewed its UK trainee solicitor salaries, with second year trainee salaries, which last year sat at £51,000, remaining static. There will be no increase in salary when its first year trainees move into the second year of their training contract in August.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We looked very carefully at what we thought was best in the current conditions as we navigate the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. We appreciate that this is disappointing for our trainees and NQs and we are committed to reviewing this position again later in the year as part of our wider salary and discretionary bonus review process.”

The spokesperson added that the start dates for its trainee intake in August 2020 remain unaffected and will go ahead as planned.

In April, Hogan Lovells cancelled its 2020 summer vacation schemes and made training contract offers early. Candidates that were not selected were instead invited to attend the firm’s winter vacation scheme.

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.

For instance, Slaughter and May was the first large firm 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. At the beginning of the week Allen & Overy cut NQ pay by 10 per cent, from a minimum of £100,000 to £90,000 while Clifford Chance followed, reducing its offering by 5 and a half per cent to £94,500.

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.