FIRMS HAVE not been using cash to sway potential candidates and attract staff to remedy the current skills shortage, the recently released Hays Legal Salary Survey has revealed.
While some groups in the legal profession have seen their pay increase over the past year, the market has been relatively restrained in offering pay rises, especially considering its efforts to retain staff and attract the best talent over the past 12 months, Hays Legal general manager Kristine Luke told Lawyers Weekly.
The Hays Legal survey, which covers 17 categories of lawyers across Australia and New Zealand, found 60 per cent of employers increased salaries by 3 to 6 per cent, while 27 per cent raised salaries by 6 to 10 per cent. This, Luke argued, was restrained considering the ongoing ‘war for talent’ that was currently taking place in the profession.
While firms are making some effort to retain staff, they have not gone so far as to do this using pay as the main attractor, the survey reveals. “Our survey clearly shows the scarcity of labour has yet to have a significant impact on salaries. Certainly employers are, for the most part, becoming more realistic about the skills shortages, however, their focus up to this point has been on benefits or career progression to attract and retain the right person rather than dramatic salary increases,” Luke said.
Compared to last year, however, pay has increased. While last year employers were likely be more restrictive in the dollars they paid to candidates, this year, they have had to deal with factors that have “forced their hand” in providing increases, said Luke. The factors had always been present, she said, “ but are more marked this time around”.
While not offering dramatic pay increases, law firms and in-house corporates are being careful to keep their lawyers’ pockets reasonably full, it appears, and will continue to accommodate a modest increase in salaries to ensure they secure the best resources available.
Competition is coming predominantly from overseas, where firms are also looking to secure high quality lawyers in both Australia and New Zealand. According to Luke, those firms’ main targets are lawyers with between two and five years’ post admission experience in the banking and finance, and corporate areas. As well, they are looking for lawyers who have the “pedigree” of working within a top-tier, and ideally national, law firm.
In order to cope with this competition, law firms and corporates with in-house lawyers are advised to retain flexibility to keep and attract the best talent. Lawyers are looking for more than reasonable financial returns, such as clear career path processes and work variety.
It was critical for an employer to ensure their recruitment practice reflected the changing market and skills shortage, Hays Legal advised.