Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has become the first U.K. law firm to break assistant lockstep, with the London giant telling staff Monday that salaries for associates will be held at 2008 levels.

The pay freeze means associates will not progress through to the next pay band, leaving a newly qualified lawyer at the same salary after one-year post-qualification experience (PQE), when they would normally see a 10 percent rise in salary.

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