Quinn Emanuel boosts NQ salary to £180,000, causing problems for other lawyers


Completely ruining the game.

Quinn Emanuel has increased the salaries of his newly qualified lawyers to £180,000, putting £30,000 of clear blue water between himself and Britain’s highest-paying firms.

Quinn paid his NQs £152,000, but a week after Freshfields proudly increased its salary for new lawyers to £150,000, US litigation specialist Gibson Dunn followed suit and jumped to an even more absurd figure.

From June 1, in addition to NQs taking home almost £9,000 a month, Quinn will have 1PQEs of £195,000, up from £160,000, and 2PQEs of £220,000, up from £184,000. Seems reasonable. Here are all the increases:


Alex Gerbi, co-managing partner of Quinn Emanuel in London, said the firm “rewards our outstanding lawyers for the contribution they make every day to the success of our London practice,” and also “seeks to attract the very best new talent ”.

Even before the latest increases, junior Quinn lawyers described their pay as ‘very generous’. They told ROF that the work was “intense”, but “as long as you work with fun teams, you can usually fit your life around your work”.

Their main grumble was the requirement to come into the office three days a week, which “takes up life for no good reason and looks grotesque against the backdrop of all the noise the company has been making in the legal press about the work, wherever. policy”. Perhaps another £30,000 a year will ease this quibble.

Resentment over the NQ pay war was the biggest issue alongside WFH in RollOnFriday’s Best Law Firms to Work At 2024. Thousands of lawyers signed up, with a significant proportion expressing their dismay at the knock-on effects of paying such huge sums to such junior lawyers.

Pay bundling, where lawyers higher up the totem pole are not paid much more than NQs and only see their salaries increase by minimal amounts between bands, was the main concern. The moves by Freshfields and now Quinn have reignited these complaints.

At companies where, behind the published NQ salary, senior groups are bundled together, some lawyers are beginning to wonder why they, or the NQs themselves in a few years’ time, should bother sticking around.

“I just think this NQ payment is crazy,” a senior attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright told RollOnFriday.

“Never mind paying too much for juniors, the question is what the position is for the rest of the non-partner professionals,” they said.

As an example they gave the position of 8PQE lawyers at NRF, who receive around £162,000, compared to NQs on £125,000. “It begs the question why senior professionals stay/take on the level of responsibility that they do (executing multi-billion pound deals) when they are doing around 22%/29% (depending on how you measure it) more then earn NQs, and what is the carrot for NQs knowing that if they stay they expect an effective increase of 3.3% per year?”

An 8PQ at Freshfields commented on ROF that the pay is “good enough, but there is definitely some build-up (and opacity as you go up) that has many nodding their heads when you see comments about the NQ pay being too high ”.

“$180,000 for a baby lawyer is outrageous,” said one commenter. “What do the NQs do for that kind of wedge?” asked another.

“Be available at almost all hours of the day and most days of the year, to do work that is extremely boring and at the same time requires great attention to detail, and have the communication skills to explain and deliver complex concepts to demanding clients fortunately,” responded a well-paid NQ.

“It’s not brain surgery, and you don’t have to be a genius (or even particularly smart – I’m certainly not). But it does require quite significant reserves of resilience, endurance and interpersonal skills,” they said.

“This is not a sustainable business model,” one lawyer suggested. “Inexperienced NQs are simply not worth this wage. There are plenty of partners across Britain who aren’t worth this wage!”

“I honestly don’t understand the crazy trajectory of NQ salaries in recent years,” said one Magic Circle lawyer. “As a 7PQE at an MC company in 2021 my base was £133,000 – how far it has come. What’s the reason here? MC firms whine about ‘attracting the best talent’, but there is a massive over-subscription of wannabe lawyers from Russell Group universities who, in my experience, are largely expendable.”

Others defended the stratospheric increases. “Companies pay for a combination of real dedication and endurance, being really smart and having the potential to be the very best at something that is often both incredibly stressful and insufferably boring,” said one commenter who sympathized with the gold-plated NQs.

“There are not that many people who can and want to do it. And of those that are, the highest paying companies want the very best from them.”

Being worthy of such a large investment meant it was a Faustian pact, others said. ‘The expectations you have based on this level of pay must be completely ridiculous. Is it really a worthwhile trade-off to sacrifice your personal time and mental well-being for the demands of a position that pays that salary? Just wait until Kirkland breaks the £200,000 barrier in the autumn.

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