Tag: salary

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. 

How much does a barrister earn?

Barristers are self-employed and are paid by their clients (usually law firms) for each case that they work on.  

The exception to this is pupils, who are paid a ‘pupillage award’ by  chambers during their training year. 


Pupillage awards can vary greatly depending on the location and specialism of the set. 

Pupils in top commercial sets can expect to receive up to £75,000 in their pupillage year, whereas at family and criminal sets, pupillage awards start from around £30,000. 

From 1 January 2023, the minimum pupillage award will be £20,703 for 12-month pupillages in London and £18,884 per annum for pupillages outside London. 

Qualified barristers 

It’s widely known that being a barrister can be a lucrative career path. In reality though, the amount that barristers earn depends on their level of seniority and in which area of law they practise.  

In 2020, according to the Bar Standards Board, 2% of barristers earned £1m and above, whilst 11.88% earned less than £30,000.  

The largest proportion of those surveyed (22.26%) were earning between £90,000 and £150,000. 

It’s worth noting that these are gross figures and are exclusive of chambers’ fees, clerks’ fees, insurance, travel costs, tax and more. 

Ropes ups the ante in the City talent war with £130k NQ pay package

In a bold play for the Boston-bred firm, Ropes & Gray has increased its London NQ salary by 8% to £130k plus bonus.

The move means a notable uptick on the previous City NQ rate of £120k and present a boon for Ropes’ appeal to young lawyers at a time of internal transition and increasing competition in the market.

The firm also said it would be retaining two out of three of its London trainees who are due to qualify into its litigation and enforcement and data privacy practices in March 2020.

Ropes’ hike gives the firm a competitive edge with peers, with the US competition last year upping the stakes considerably. Skadden gave its London NQs an extra £15k to £133k, Milbank paid £132k, Sidley Austin £130k, Weil Gotshal & Manges £130k and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton £120k.

Ropes’ training programme, which includes an international seat, has been running since 2011 and now hosts 14 trainees.

Mike Goetz, Ropes’ venerable London co-managing partner, retired at the end of last year, leaving corporate partner Will Rosen solely at the helm.

Since its London launch in 2010 the firm has promoted 15 lawyers to partner and 19 to counsel. Of its 124 London fee-earners, 46% are female and of its 23 partners, 48% are female.

Goetz had been a pivotal player in the establishment of the London office, along with the storied finance veteran Maurice Allen, with the pair defecting from White & Case in 2008 to spearhead the launch.

Last year Ropes promoted only one to partner in the form of private equity lawyer Elizabeth Todd, after a turbulent 2018 that saw four of its London real estate and restructuring partners axed in a refocus on its prized funds business.


This article first appeared on Legal Business.

Norton Rose enters associate pay war putting NQs in line for £114k paycheque

Top-performing newly qualified (NQ) solicitors at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) will be in line to take home up to £114,000 as the firm becomes the latest to increase its starting rates amid an escalating war for associate talent in the City.

NRF confirmed on 9 October a 9% rise to its NQ basic salary to £87,500 effective in January 2020, with bonuses of up to 30% on top of that.

A spokesperson said it was essential for the firm to ‘attract and retain high quality people’ and ‘ensuring our salaries are competitive is key to achieving this’.

NRF is the latest to confirm a six-figure pay package for NQs after Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in May announced one of the largest real-term pay rises in the City for a decade amid increasing pressure for associate talent from US rivals.

A few weeks after Freshfields raised its starting rate from £85,000 to £100,000 plus bonuses, all four of its Magic Circle rivals followed suit. Clifford Chance (CC) announced a £100,000 package including bonus at the beginning of June, matched by Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy and Linklaters shortly afterwards.

The competition widened well beyond the Magic Circle over the summer, with Ashurst announcing a 9% pay increase to £105,000 after firms including Macfarlanes, Travers Smith and Herbert Smith Freehills made similar moves.

In July, Baker McKenzie announced an eye-catching 23% increase to its starting rates to a minimum of £95,000, with performance-related bonuses bringing earnings to over £100,000.


This story first appeared on Legal Business

Bird & Bird and Clyde & Co boost NQ salaries

Salaries for newly-qualified (NQ) solicitors at Bird & Bird have increased by 15%. The firm is offering associates £71,000 a year, £9,000 more than the previous rate of £62,000.

First year trainees at the international law firm have also received a £2,000 salary bump to £40,000, whilst those in year two will earn £44,000, up from £42,000.

Meanwhile, Clyde & Co confirmed an 8% pay increase for its NQs. Associates at the firm will now receive a salary of £70,000 – an impressive £5,000 increase. There have also been hikes to trainee pay to £40,000 in year one and £42,000 in year two.

Clyde & Co also announced an 86% autumn retention rate, with 37 of 42 trainees staying on at the firm including 33 qualifying into the London office. Qualifiers will join the corporate, marine, aviation, employment, planning, real estate, international arbitration and energy practices.