How much do NQ solicitors earn?

The salary for newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors can vary significantly, but the two main things which will affect the amount you get paid are: 

  1. The size and type of firm; and 
  1. Location. 

Size and type of law firm 

The highest NQ salaries can be found at US firms. These are firms which are headquartered in the USA but have an office in London. US firms typically match their UK NQ salaries with what they pay solicitors of the equivalent level over the pond. Currently, the highest NQ salary in London is £179,000 a year at Akin Gump [LINK].  

Other US firms which pay high salaries are Latham & Watkins (£170,000), Vinson & Elkins (£159,500), Debevoise & Plimpton (£145,800), Cooley (£142,000) and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (£140,000). 

Next up are the Magic Circle firms. These are the largest and highest-grossing firms in the UK. Magic Circle firm Clifford Chance pays its NQ solicitors £125,000 a year.  

‘Silver Circle’ and other (often international) City firms are hot on the heels of the Magic Circle when it comes to NQ salaries. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner pays £95,000 a year, Travers Smith pays £105,000 a year, Macfarlanes £107,500 and Norton Rose Fulbright £105,000. 

At a national firm or a boutique London firm you can expect to earn around £65,000 – £75,000 a year as a NQ solicitor. 


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest salaries are found in London. This is because many of the biggest firms have their main UK office in London, but is also because of London weighting. Higher rent, mortgage and living costs mean that salaries in London are slightly higher than in other parts of the UK. 

That’s not to say that you can’t earn a high salary elsewhere, though. In Bristol a NQ will earn £80,000 a year at Osborne Clarke or £60,000 at Burges Salmon 

At national firm TLT, you can expect to earn £44,000 in Manchester and £30,000 in Belfast. 

This is only a selection of NQ salaries. Consult our remuneration table to see details of salaries at all Legal 500 Future Lawyers firms.