Firms reinstate NQ pay and tell staff they can choose how and when to work

updated on 07 May 2021

Baker McKenzie has become the latest firm to reinstate newly qualified (NQ) lawyers’ salaries to pre-pandemic levels, after a reduction of 3% last June.

The firm’s NQ lawyers will have their salaries restored from £87,500 to £90,000, and those eligible will receive their delayed summer bonuses.

Clifford Chance, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Macfarlanes and Reed Smith have taken similar actions.

Magic circle firm Linklaters recently revealed that salaries for its NQ lawyers will be bumped – but not to pre-pandemic levels – following a reduction of 10% in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The pay increase, which will see the firm’s NQ lawyers’ annual salary sit at £92,500, will come into effect from May 2021, alongside a discretionary performance bonus.

Fellow magic circle firm Slaughter and May also increased NQ pay from £87,000 to £90,500, while Allen & Overy confirmed its NQ lawyers will also receive a bump in salary following covid-19 cuts.

Meanwhile, Irwin Mitchell is expecting to open its 15 offices at 50% capacity from 21 June and has told its 3,000 employees that they can choose how, when and where they work: “We've seen throughout the pandemic how much colleagues have embraced working from home and have appreciated being able to work flexibly around their lives. From listening to our colleagues we anticipate most people to take up hybrid working patterns with time split between offices and home. 

“There will also be some roles which are office-based due to the nature of the work they do, and we expect some people will wish to work from home full-time. It's crucial that we trust our colleagues to make the best choice for themselves, the other colleagues in their teams and their clients in how they decide to work in future.”

Clifford Chance is also among many other firms implementing flexible working policies post-pandemic. The magic circle firm is set to transition to a hybrid working model, with staff expected to be in the office for at least 50% of the week after listening to feedback from employees. The firm hopes that the plans will be introduced by 21 June in line with the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions.