Demand for mid-level lawyers ‘strong’

By Emma Ryan|06 February 2018

A new report has detailed the legal expertise most in demand, in addition to expected wage growth for legal roles in 2018.

A report from recruitment firm Robert Walters has revealed that the jobs market in 2017 was busy, with demand for mid-level lawyers with two to six years’ post qualification experience (PQE) set to remain strong over the 2018 calendar year.

“Specialist areas where skills shortages are more pronounced, and modest salary increases might be expected, include corporate, technology, tax and banking. Although legal work in property and construction is slowing slightly, a shortage of legal expertise remains,” said Robert Walters managing director James Nicholson in the report.

“Demand in 2018 will stem from government infrastructure activity, e.g. Clayton Utz is advising on the transformation of Parramatta central business district as well as the Pacific Highway upgrade, Herbert Smith Freehills is advising on the Melbourne Metro Rail project and Ashurst is working on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.


“In the competition and class action space, demand will remain high in 2018 following increased activity by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Tax Office. The resulting remediation projects mean financial services lawyers will continue to be in demand, both in-house and within private practice.

“One further area where demand exceeds supply is high-quality legal secretaries and support roles. We don’t expect this trend to change in 2018.”

The report also delved into expected wage growth for legal roles in 2018.

In New South Wales, private practice lawyers with 8+ years PQE expect a salary of $220,000-plus, the report said. This is the same result as 2017.

Meanwhile, private practice lawyers with seven years PQE expect a salary of $160,000-$200,000, and private practice lawyers with six years’ PQE expect anywhere between $145,000-$180,000, also the same results as 2017.


Private practice lawyers with five years PQE recorded a slightly higher salary expectation: between $130,000-$165,000, up from $125,000-$165,000.

Private practice lawyers with four years PQE also recorded a slightly higher salary expectation: between $120,000-$150,000, up from $115,000-$150,000.

Private practice lawyers with three years PQE have retained the same salary expectations as last year (between $90,000-$115,000), while private practice lawyers with two years PQE have upped expectations slightly (between $85,000-$100,000, up from $85,000-$98,000).

Lastly, private practice lawyers with one year PQE set salary expectations of $70,000-$90,000 – the same result as last year.

On the in-house counsel front, those with a higher level of PQE (five years and over) recorded the same salary expectations in 2018 as they did in 2017, the report found.

In-house counsel with eight-plus years PQE expect a salary of $220,000+, in-house counsel with seven years PQE expect $170,000-$200,000, in-house counsel with six years PQE expect $150,000-$190,000, and in-house counsel with five years PQE expect $130,000-$170,000.

Meanwhile, the report recorded some slight variation in in-house counsel salary expectations for those with less than five years PQE.

In-house counsel with four years PQE expect $110,000-$140,000 (up from $105,000-$135,000), while in-house counsel with three years PQE expect $100,000-$120,000 (up from $95,000-$115,000).

Furthermore, in-house counsel with two years PQE expect $90,000-$110,000 (same as last year’s result), and in-house counsel with one year PQE expect $70,000-$95,000 (also the same as last year’s result).

In terms of other legal roles, company secretaries with six to eight years’ experience expect a salary of $145,000-$205,000 in 2018, which is the same as last year, while those company secretaries with three to five years’ experience expect $85,000-$145,000, also the same as last year.

A senior paralegal expects a salary of $80,000-$130,000, a junior paralegal expects a salary of $50,000-$80,000, and a document reviewer expects a salary of $55,000-$75,000, according to the report.

Disclaimer: The above salary figures are “inclusive of superannuation, but exclusive of benefits/bonuses unless otherwise specified”, the report noted.

Demand for mid-level lawyers ‘strong’
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