Mid-tier firms across Australia are offering competitive remuneration packages, giving top-tiers a run for their money, according to a recent survey.
A key trend identified by the Taylor Root Private Practice Salary Survey 2010 is the strong performance of mid-tier firms, similar to that experienced in 2008. The survey reveals that many mid-tier firms are providing strong competition for the top-tier on remuneration, particularly within the corporate and banking sectors, with little difference between the tiers.
"The mid-tier is putting up a good fight in the 'war for talent' on the grounds of improved career progression [and] better work/life balance...helped hugely by what is often very comparable remuneration," according to the survey.
The survey reported salary increases in 2010 of between five and 10 per cent, with little evidence of firms offering "double whammy" reviews following a salary freeze. "Since January 2010, we've met with a huge variety of candidates who have higher expectations than [what] the firms can realistically offer and match," Taylor Root said in its report. "Most lawyers have received an increase this year and things are expected to return to [the] normal year-on-year increases, but reviews are cautious rather than groundbreaking."
Looking interstate, the survey revealed that markets beyond New South Wales and Victoria did not fair much better than Sydney and Melbourne. However, the new financial year brought increased demand for legal staff and increased confidence, particularly in Brisbane and Perth.
"Since mid 2009 Brisbane has witnessed a particularly strong surge of activity with energy, construction, environment and planning and employment being the areas of greatest need at the mid-level," the survey said.
The survey also reported a strong resurgence in the demand for lawyers across all practice areas in the top and mid-tier firms.
"Business is not entirely 'as usual' but the market has bounced back rapidly, taking some firms by surprise as they try to balance their escalating workloads against their depleted staffing."
Figures revealed in the survey show that the average salary offered to a first-year Sydney lawyer in a top-tier firm ranges between $72,000 and $83,000 and between $60,000 and $70,000 at a mid-tier firm. The same lawyer in Perth would potentially earn between $65,000 and $75,000 at a top-tier firm, and between $55,000 and $75,000 at a mid-tier.