Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has increased newly-qualified pay for the first time in three years to provide the best NQ salary of the magic circle firms.

The firm will raise NQ pay in London by 25% to £125,000 from May, putting it comfortably ahead of Allen & Overy and Linklaters which offer £107,500.

Freshfields, which last increased NQ salaries in May 2019, will also boost pay outside London from £55,600 to £65,600.

London managing partner Claire Wills said: ‘We believe that our package of financial and non-financial incentives, including paid qualification leave and career development opportunities, underpinned by effective work allocation and an inclusive working environment, offers a truly market-leading proposition.’

While Freshfields’ NQ pay will be the best of the magic circle firms, all of which pay six-figure salaries to newly-qualified lawyers, it remains below the highest offered in London as the so-called salary wars rumble on.

US firm Gibson Dunn recently increased NQ salaries to £161,700, narrowly topping the £161,500 offered by fellow US firm Goodwin Procter which was previously the highest in the Square Mile.

But there have been warnings about ever-increasing NQ pay, which DWF’s chief executive Sir Nigel Knowles has described as ‘only a sticking plaster’ while legal recruitment consultancy Edwards Gibson has cautioned that ‘law firm salary wars don’t tend to end well for associates’.


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