find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Modest pay rises not enough to lift morale

Modest pay rises not enough to lift morale

Firm revenue is up but lawyer morale is down as firms fail to meet salary expectations and move on underperformers, a new survey has found.

Last year saw a number of large firms institute pay freezes. While many have since been lifted, pressure to maintain profitability is keeping salary increases modest and teams lean, said Lisa Gazis (pictured), managing director, NSW at Mahlab Recruitment.

Gazis spoke with Lawyers Weekly ahead of today’s (1 August) release of Mahlab’s annual salary survey, which found that the average salary increase for private practice lawyers was 3.8 per cent and in-house lawyers was 3.3 per cent.

According to Gazis, firms remain overly conservative despite strong revenue figures for FY14.

“The cost pressures on firms are still enormous,” she said in response to why only 44 per cent of firms increased their salary bands in FY14, compared to 50 per cent in 2013 and 75 per cent in 2012.

Those pressures are being driven by clients, who are dealing with their own cost constraints by demanding more value for money from their external legal counsel.

Firms also face stiffer competition from low-cost service providers, claimed Gazis.

“The market is still very competitive for partners in private practice and you’ve got competition which is being created by technology,” she said, adding that clients are increasingly giving work to “the one man band or small boutique firms”.

The haves and have nots

Not all lawyers are feeling the pinch.

Those who have taken a significant step up and high performers received up to a 12 per cent salary increase this year, the survey revealed.

Gazis commented that while firms are rewarding top performers, they are also moving on underperformers.

“If you’re a lawyer or partner who is not meeting benchmarks, there seems to be less time for you to come up to speed,” she said.

“In these sorts of environments you want to retain people but you also want to move people on who are not performing because firms simply can’t afford to carry these people anymore.”

Can’t get no satisfaction

Unsurprisingly, job satisfaction has declined across private practice and in-house this year. The survey revealed that 63 per cent of private practice lawyers and just 59 per cent of corporate lawyers were satisfied in their current role, with almost half of lawyers across the profession considering their job options.

Gazis said lawyers are feeling stressed and under-appreciated.

“People feel that they are working incredibly long hours but are not necessarily getting the financial rewards and it impacts morale,“ she said.

“The focus is on employers now to try and find ways of retaining and rewarding staff, even if they can’t do that through pay increases.”

Gazis believes bonuses should be used in combination with other benefits to retain overachievers. She nominated professional development opportunities, secondments and a positive workplace culture as non-financial benefits that lawyers value.

For more findings from The Mahlab Report 2014 for private practice and in-house see the documents below.

Mahlab-Report-Private-Practice-MREC-1.jpg

Mahlab-Report-Corporate-MREC-2-1.jpg

Mahlab-Report-Private-Practice-2.pdf Mahlab-Report-Corporate-1.pdf

You can also download the Mahlab Report app here.

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

Modest pay rises not enough to lift morale
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
APPOINTMENTS
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'...
opinion
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...
Help
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 & ...