LAWYERS IN private practice are likely to see their base salaries increase 5—8 per cent in the coming year, and by as much as 15 per cent for those with in-demand skill sets predicts recruitment company Michael Page International.
The recruitment firm’s salary survey for 2007—08 also predicts in-house lawyers in commerce and industry will get a pay rise of 5—10 per cent with more employers offering performance-based bonus incentives of 15—20 per cent of the total remuneration package.
Similarly, Hays Legal recruitment is also predicting the year ahead will see pay increases, and most likely greater ones than those of the past 12 months.
“In all the cities salaries have increased but they haven’t rocketed at all, and that’s pretty much across all industry sectors in Australia. They haven’t seen the massive salary increases which you may expect in an economy like this. So they haven’t exploded yet, but it looks likely to happen over the next year or so,” said Ben Carter, consultant at Hays Legal.
Pressure to increase salaries will come from overseas, Carter said.
“Salaries have increased vastly in London. Top-tier firms are now paying absolutely incredibly salaries which I suppose is making it even more attractive to move overseas.
“This increased competition from overseas in the UK, New York and Asia will have to be addressed at some point. I think at the moment it’s financially hard for some lawyers to justify why they are staying in Australia when they can earn a lot more overseas, so I think that will lead to an increase,” he explained.
“I think the current market firms are more and more keen to retain the talent they’ve got and one of the ways they can do this is with higher salaries — the things people can see in black and white. There’s no doubt salaries are crucial to anyone’s decision to stay or leave and I can only see them increasing,” Carter said.
Hays Legal predicts London and Middle East-based firms will continue to recruit banking, projects and corporate lawyers over the coming year, and will increasingly consider candidates from mid-tier firms.
Locally, demand will continue for banking, corporate and construction, property and tax lawyers, while the Perth and Brisbane markets are seeking energy and resources lawyers.
Similarly, Michael Page forecasts that in private practice there will be strong demand for skills in corporate, IT and banking over the coming year.
In addition, in-house lawyers with commercial, telecommunications, and IT experience will be in demand, while fund management lawyers, derivatives lawyers and compliance specialists will be sought after in the banking and finance sector.