Despite market improvements over the last 12 months, little is expected amongst the legal profession when it comes to end-of-year bonuses. Briana Everett reports.
The chance of an end-of-year windfall has been given very little thought by Australian private practice lawyers, according to a legal recruitment consultant, because of low expectations and the availability of other career opportunities.
"While the market is certainly better than last year, a lot of lawyers will not be achieving personal performance triggers," explains Laurence Simons consultant, Sean Murphy. "The lawyers that I have talked to just aren't talking about [them or] expecting them."
According to Murphy, most lawyers are staying put in their current role not on the expectation of receiving a bonus, but because they feel there will be more stability and opportunity in the market next year.
"Bonuses are regarded somewhat cynically by a lot of younger lawyers in private practice," Murphy says. "The feeling is that the triggers are set too high and the value of bonuses for lawyers in private practice is small when compared to potential bonuses for in-house roles."
But despite this lacklustre feeling towards bonuses amongst the industry, the continued strength of the Australian dollar is adding to salary pressure and allowing Australian lawyers to explore career options overseas.
According to Hays director Graeme Doyle, the strong Australian dollar, the rising job numbers and the emerging skills shortages make a compelling argument for any lawyer wanting to approach their manager for a salary increase.
"Candidate confidence has been steadily rising all year," Doyle says. "The jobs market in Australia has recovered quickly in comparison to many other markets internationally...with such a strong employment performance, candidate salary expectations are rising."
Doyle says the strong dollar is also contributing to a steady rise in the number of professionals having the means to explore working options internationally.
"The strong dollar gives Australians the opportunity to relocate, set themselves up and pay for living expenses while searching for a job in an overseas location."