New solicitors in line for autumn drop in salary

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SOLICITORS qualifying at Clifford Chance, the UK's largest law firm, in September will be paid pounds 1,000 a year less than those who finished their articles last year.

The move, which will mean newly qualified lawyers earning pounds 26,000 rather than the pounds 27,000 offered to their counterparts last year, is expected to be followed by other leading firms.

While some senior partners are understood to be considering pay policies over the next few weeks, others are said to be awaiting reaction to the Clifford Chance initiative before taking action themselves.

It is also being seen as the start of a shake-up in legal salaries over the coming years. According to John Pritchard, editor-in-chief of Legal Business magazine, which reports the story in its latest issue, out today, the decision was 'one of the most significant developments in recent years. It is setting in motion a train of events that could lead to lower legal wages across the whole commercial law sector with the knock-on effect of lower bills for law firm clients.'

However, the magazine also reports that some firms outside the top rank with aggressive reputations, such as Gouldens and Dibb Lupton Broomhead & Prior, are likely to use the move as an opportunity to attract high-quality staff by enticing them with higher salaries. Gouldens, for instance, is said to be offering newly qualified solicitors pounds 28,500, making it the highest payer in this sector.