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‘Sedate’ pay rises for in-house counsel: Hays

The latest Hays Salary Guide has revealed that many in-house lawyers are facing smaller pay rises than their private practice counterparts.

user iconTom Lodewyke 06 June 2017 Corporate Counsel
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The 2017 Hays Salary Guide, released on 1 June, is based on a survey of over 2,950 organisations across Australia. The report shows that 65 per cent of employers will give their in-house counsel a raise of 3 per cent or less in their next review, while 11 per cent of employers do not intend to increase in-house salaries at all.

Lawyers in IT and telecommunications companies are best off, according to the report, with 20 per cent of these employers planning to raise their in-house counsel’s salaries by 6 per cent or more.

Private practice lawyers can expect slightly more generosity than in-house counsel, Hays said. Thirty-three per cent of law firms will increase salaries by 3 per cent or more, while 57 per cent will give their lawyers a raise of less than 3 per cent.


“Australia’s legal job market remains positive overall, although supply and demand varies between the states,” said Hays Legal director Darren Buchanan.

In Western Australia, we’ll see a steady private practice market ahead as a number of mergers settle into their new structure. Remuneration remains stable, with minor increases. Firms continue to look for ways to offer flexible working options to attract top talent.

“South Australia has a surplus of graduates and therefore government roles are highly competitive. We’ve seen increasing demand for paralegals and competitive salaries in this space.

“In Canberra, property lawyers and commercial lawyers with two to five years’ PQE are needed and expect salaries to match this level of demand.

“Sydney, meanwhile, sees continued demand for back-end and front-end lawyers in construction, across private practice and in-house at the four- to eight-year PQE-level.

“Victoria’s private practice market will remain buoyant, with steady but cautious growth and demand for infrastructure, projects and construction lawyers.

“Queensland needs entry- to senior-level conveyancers and salaries are rising accordingly. Small boutique and specialist firms in the Gold Coast, Cairns and Townsville are growing,” Mr Buchanan said.

The Hays Salary Guide also found that 23 per cent of Australian organisations, across all industries, intend to increase their use of temporary and contract staff. Forty-four per cent said they employ contract staff for special projects or high workloads.

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