Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is meeting the aggressive law-pay fight with US law firms by lifting its starting pay to £100,000.
Major US law firms like Cravath and Milbank have been paying their NQs at
£145,000 last year with some commentators suggesting the starting figure could rise to an “absurd” £150,000.
NQs at Clifford Chance, meanwhile, earn £87,000, while those at Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May and Linklaters enjoy starting salaries of £83,000 a year.
Chris Clark, a legal specialist at the recruitment firm Definitum, said: “Pay cannot keep going up and up, there will come a tipping point.
“British law firms will have to become more efficient and more profitable businesses to stay competitive. That means cutting costs, lower staffing numbers and taking on fewer trainees.”
“Millennial graduates are often not looking at lifelong careers in law, they see the US firms as a way to make good money for a few years and then get out,” another recruiter said.
A spokesman for Freshfields said: “Our pay offering is a critical part of our talent strategy and reflects our continued commitment to attracting and retaining the very best talent in the legal market.”