International firm increases pay despite NQ salary war cooling

updated on 08 August 2022

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International firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has increased its newly qualified (NQ) lawyer salaries by 14% to £120,000 plus bonus, effective from July 2022, despite the NQ salary war potentially slowing down. Speaking on this, the firm said: “There is intense competition for talent in the international legal sector and, in-line with other leading firms, we have taken steps to ensure remuneration for our associates remains competitive in our markets.”  

Herbert Smith Freehills’ decision went against the trend as magic circle firm Allen & Overy LLP (A&O) announced that it has decided to not raise NQ pay – currently £107,500 at the time of writing. In reference to this decision, a spokesperson for the firm highlighted that “this is a prudent decision based on a number of factors, including the more challenging business environment”. 

Following A&O, Linklaters LLP said it does “not believe that the right course of action is to rush into matching salaries at NQ level without properly considering the impact of any changes and the wider economic context”. As such, NQ salary at Linklaters remains at £107,500 plus a performance-related bonus.