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Clifford Chance (CC) has matched the 2003 bonus rate for the New York market, with arch banking rival Allen & Overy (A&O) likely to follow later this month, in moves that will cost both firms millions of dollars.

The decision means CC will pay its first-year associates the benchmark set last month by a handful of leading Manhattan firms of $17,500 (£10,100) rising to $25,000 (£14,740) for senior associates.

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