And the Freshfields angel said unto the NQs: "Behold, this is more than the rest of the Magic Circle pays."
Freshfields has boosted NQ base pay to £125k, setting a new benchmark for the Magic Circle.
Freshfields' NQs were previously on a base salary of £100,000, but the firm has now raised the figure to £125,000, effective from 1 May. Freshfields leapfrogs the rest of the Magic Circle's NQ wage of £107,500, although surely it is just a matter of time before the others follow suit.
A Freshfields insider told RollOnFriday there has also been a "huge overhaul of the bonus structure" which is "pretty substantial".
"We remain focused on attracting and rewarding the highest quality talent to deliver excellence for our clients," said Claire Wills, the firm's London managing partner. "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.”
The rise still puts Freshfields beneath the highest paying US firms in the City, such as Gibson Dunn, Goodwin Proctor, Fried Frank and Davis Polk which spray their NQs with a base salary of £160k+. Kirkland & Ellis and several more US firms are understood to pay in the same region.
DWF's CEO, Sir Nigel Knowles, recently warned that "offering more and more money to young people is only a sticking plaster", and that massive hikes are "not a sincere, sustainable or healthy solution for anyone".
Meanwhile, Hogan Lovells is increasing NQ salary in London from £100,000 to £107,500, effective from 1 May 2022, putting them on a par with the Magic Circle (save for Freshfields). HogLove's NQs will also be eligible for performance related bonuses of up to 35% of their salary.
Addleshaw Goddard has announced it will increase NQ base salary from £82,000 to £95,000 in London; from £50,000 to £62,000 in Leeds and Manchester, and from £47,500 to £56,000 in Scotland. Although its a long run up until the new rates actually kick in, as they don't come into effect until September 2022.
"To be a destination business for talented, ambitious people we need and want to remain really competitive on pay and will therefore increase salaries again this year across our business," said Addleshaws' managing partner, John Joyce. He added that salary "is only one important part of the equation" along with "supporting people to be the best they can be in a flexible, collaborative environment, with interesting work."
RPC is increasing its NQ salaries in London, from £70,000 to £85,000 for those in the commercial group; and from £70,000 to £80,000 for the insurance group. The firm is also raising NQ pay in Bristol from £49,000 to £56,000.
"As a firm we remain committed to continue to support our people and clients achieve their ambitions," said RPC's managing partner, James Miller. "Providing a competitive pay coupled with our people-centric culture which includes enhanced wellbeing and supporting career progression will enable us to retain and attract top talent to deliver against our ambitious growth plans."