FIRMS MAY be struggling to keep their lawyers on board, but at least they can offer them more than they are expecting when the question of pay comes up.
New statistics compiled by Lawyers Weekly show most law students expect to earn less than the average salaries at medium to large firms, based on a survey of 445 students at the Sydney Law Careers Fair.
Approximately 63 per cent of law students expect to earn less than $55,000 per annum as a graduate, with 36 per cent expecting $45,001 to $55,000, 24 per cent expecting $35,001 to $45,000 and three per cent expecting less than $35,000, the survey results show.
Just over 25 per cent expect $55,001 to $65,000 and an optimistic 11 per cent think over $65,000 will be coming their way after graduation.
However most students expect their salaries to jump after one year. Sixty-nine per cent expect more than $55,000 with 38.5 per cent expecting $55,001 to $65,000, 23 per cent expecting $65,001 to $75,000 and around 7.5 per cent expecting over $75,000.
Twenty-five per cent expect $45,001 to $55,000 and 6 per cent expect $35,001 to $45,000.
Rosemary Galic, senior consultant at Mahlab Recruitment, said graduate salaries are actually more generous than what the survey results show students expect.
“Graduates in medium to large Sydney firms can expect to receive salaries in the range of $55,000 to $68,000.
“A lockstep salary increase at 6 monthly intervals usually applies during the graduate year and sometimes through the first year of practice. This can take first year salaries to as high as $75,000. Graduate salaries in smaller firms average around $48,000. Performance based salaries generally kick in at the two year level,” she said.
The survey also indicated that students saw financial reward as low on the list of important aspects of a future career in the law.
Respondents to the survey were asked to rank three facets to a career that mattered to them most, from a list of eight possibilities.
One student, who chose money above all else, explained his choice rather succinctly when he said: “To buy things, rent home”. See ‘Money can’t get no satisfaction’ on page 8.
Additional reporting by Kate Gibbs and Shaun Drummond.