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Firms more generous than in-house with salary raises

New findings from a global professional recruitment group have shown that while more in-house lawyers will receive pay rises in their next employment reviews, traditional law firms will be more generous in terms of dollars.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 22 May 2018 Corporate Counsel
Salary, pay raise, employment
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The 2018–19 Hays Salary Guide has revealed that 11 per cent of law firms intend to increase lawyers’ salaries by more than 6 per cent, and 24 per cent expect to do so between 3 and 6 per cent.

Lawyers in-house will not be as lucky, however, with 65 per cent of employers giving corporate counsel a pay rise of less than 3 per cent in their next reviews, while 11 per cent will not get an increase on their salaries at all.

Just 6 per cent of in-house lawyers will get a raise of 6 per cent or more; 18 per cent will see an increase between 3 and 6 per cent.


Overall, more corporate counsel will receive raises, but theirs will not be as generous as those received by lawyers within firms.

Such findings are in line with the additional result that more firm-based lawyers expect to receive salary increases, with 17 per cent expecting a rise of 6 per cent of more.

“An increase in specialist demands and a high number of vacancies are the dominant themes of Australia’s legal jobs sector at present, thanks to buoyant activity from boutique, mid-tier and national firms and an improved in-house market,” explained Hays Legal managing director Darren Buchanan.

Discrepancies in salary rises may be partly explained by different values, he noted, with firm-based lawyers prioritising pay increases in greater numbers, with 67 per cent saying it was their foremost career priority this year.

Almost half (48 per cent) noted they would ask their firm for a raise if one was not offered.

“In the in-house market, senior level candidates are often prepared to accept a reduced salary for an in-house role that offers career progression, exposure to a preferred industry or work/life balance,” he said.

Despite this, however, there has been limited salary movement across the legal profession due to an “oversupply of graduates”, he argued.

“Conveyancing staff are the exception, with more mid-tier firms outsourcing requirements to boutiques,” he said.

“Top tier firms offer high salaries for sought-after skills, especially in corporate and banking and finance.”

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