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Nicholas Scott observations on the NQ market

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08 July 2020

​After a stuttering start to the NQ market, with one major City firm initially offering 14/45 NQ positions to trainees, recently published retention figures have been high across the City. The firm in question offering 14 positions was able to revise this to 41/45 trainees being offered roles on qualification, and similar retention percentages have been recorded throughout.

The NQ summer City pay war has been briefly reversed and it is now a question of which firms are not reducing NQ salaries and deferring bonuses. Salaries have been reduced by a number of practices, yet others have stood firm and continued to pay their junior lawyers in the top bracket.

We have also seen an interesting trend amongst some City firms offering trainees six-month fixed term contracts as NQs – to allow them to be retained but not on permanent positions. It remains to be seen whether these fixed term contracts become permanent roles once they come to an end in February/March 2021.

Nicholas Scott have seen a significant number of NQ positions (many with US firms) being marketed to external candidates in recent weeks, as the legal market recovers from the initial uncertainty caused by Covid-19. We would invite NQs who are exploring their options to reach out to our team to discuss the market, and let us know what they would be looking for to make the external move on qualification. We also have opportunities available offshore, and in Asia-Pacific. Our team is comprised of specialist legal recruiters with decades of experience, as well as consultants who have made the move from private practice having qualified as solicitors. We are therefore best placed to offer impartial career advice and provide industry knowledge gathered from an extensive network of contacts across the City.