find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Next strategy for rivalling firms: golden hello bonuses

Next strategy for rivalling firms: golden hello bonuses

THE BATTLE to recruit top talent is driving an increasing number of law firms to offer “golden hello” bonuses to beat rival offers. While sign-on bonuses have been used by top-tier…

THE BATTLE to recruit top talent is driving an increasing number of law firms to offer “golden hello” bonuses to beat rival offers.

While sign-on bonuses have been used by top-tier firms and members of the corporate sector for years, competition in the past year has forced even the mid tier to offer bonuses at all levels, including secretaries and partners.

The practice can see partners get bonuses of up to $20,000 when they sign a new contract after a lateral hire, and bonuses of $5,000 for some senior secretaries have been cited.

According to legal recruitment company Naiman Clarke director Elvira Naiman, this is a new phenomenon for the mid tier, and even smaller mid-tier firms.

“This is not offered to every candidate, but a large reason it is being utilised is because one firm may pay $75,000 [for a solicitor at a certain level], then you might have a firm which pays $65-70,000. So instead of upsetting the bandwidth of that particular level of PQE lawyer, so that they can match an offer from X firm, they say ‘we can give you an extra $5,000 in a sign-on bonus’. So they are getting around the issue of parity between the people they currently have by giving people a sign-on bonus.”

At Corrs Chambers Westgarth, sign-on bonuses have been around for upwards of ten years, national human resources manager Alexis Nabie told Lawyers Weekly. But what is new, she argued, is the “amount and the reasons”.

Nabie said remuneration practices did not used to be as sophisticated as they are today, noting that today they are more competitive. But firms are being responsible in not just increasing salaries to beat their competition, and in some cases are offering sign-on bonuses and other incentives to top the opposition. “Sign-on bonuses have probably replaced inequity in salary differentials,” she said.

While Corrs does not offer golden hellos for secretaries, there has been an increase in the number of offers it has made lawyers at all levels, said Nabie.

“You are talking some relatively hefty amounts, up to $50,000. We are talking about people who have perhaps come from overseas and are used to being paid in [sterling] pounds or in US dollars, or in cases where there is a serious undersupply in skills and you really, really have to have that person. But you have to have a particular skills set for such bonuses,” she said.

Naiman agreed that firms use the sign-on bonus scheme on a needs basis. “Generally it’s been utilised for senior appointments only. However, in the past 12 months we have seen an increase in sign-on bonuses for juniors.

“As far as lawyers are concerned it tends to be between the $2,000 and $10,000 mark, depending on the seniority, depending on the skill set that the person is bringing to the table and depending on how desperate the firm is to bring on that person’s services,” Naiman said.

A number of firms interviewed by Lawyers Weekly denied having a policy of sign-on bonuses, noting that this was not something they had yet been forced to introduce. Naiman agreed that many firms will not have it as a policy, but may use it as a backup if forced to by competition for a particular candidate.

“In the past we have told a firm that a particular candidate is looking for a sign-on bonus. But the firm will say it doesn’t do it. Then the person will go through the interview process and the firm will realise there are four or five firms vying for that person’s attention. In that case, they might then offer a sign-on bonus,” she said.

Naiman noted that the bonus is a “sweetener” to make someone make the move. “In a lot of firms it’s not a policy, they will say it’s a one-off event for a particular candidate and as approved by the partnership at the time.”

This activity has also been noted in the in-house market, said Taylor Root manager Claire Courtney. “In the cases where we have seen golden hellos, it has been generally because it is a recognition that someone has had to sacrifice a bonus in order to make that move over.”

Rather than wait six months for a substantial bonus to be paid, with the added risk, some banks, for example, will pay a sign-on bonus in order to encourage the move sooner.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Next strategy for rivalling firms: golden hello bonuses
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Oct 20 2017
Podcast: One of law’s most infamous alumni – in conversation with Julian Morrow
In this episode of The Lawyers Weekly Show, Melissa Coade is joined by The Chaser’s Julian Morrow....
Oct 20 2017
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Oct 20 2017
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...