LAWYERS ARE working very hard but their efforts are not going unrewarded, according to Lisa Gazis of Mahlab Recruitment.
Mahlab Recruitment has released its annual salary survey and Gazis said that a common theme among respondents was that they had met their budgets early in the year.
“We found anecdotally that lawyers had been working very hard and had exceeded their budgets early. A lot of people will say ‘oh, wow, that means we’ve had a really busy year’. But it’s indicative of more than just the large amount of M&A and private equity work. It also shows us that lawyers have been working harder and working longer hours,” Gazis said.
According to the salary survey results, that hard work has been rewarded. High performers in private practice reported salary hikes of more than 20 per cent in the past year. The average national increase was 14 per cent, up from the 8 per cent increase reported the previous year.
“There’s been an increase in economic activity. There are some fairly large-scale transactions corporate Australia is doing, along with the resources boom in Perth, so their lawyers are now being paid comparable salaries to lawyers in Melbourne, whereas once-upon-a-time Perth lagged behind. And it’s all been fuelled by the fact there’s a shortage of talent as well. So firms are rewarding people as a retention issue and money is a key driver,” Gazis said.
The talent shortage has been well-documented with overseas and in-house opportunities largely to blame. This is a trend that looks set to continue. In fact, 58 per cent of those surveyed said they were considering leaving their current role and only 30 per cent were considering moving to another law firm.
Twenty-nine per cent expressed an interest in pursuing a role overseas, and 27 per cent expressed a desire to move in-house.
Less than half of all respondents were interested in pursuing partnership, dropping from 56 per cent last year to 42 per cent. Seven per cent said they intended to leave the profession.
Creative recruitment and retention strategies have become more prevalent as firms struggle to attract and retain staff. Seventeen per cent reported receiving a sign-on bonus and 42 per cent reported bonus payments, up from 33 per cent in 2005—06.