Experts predict legal salary surge

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The majority of legal employers will be rewarding staff with salary increases and bonuses this financial year, according to the 2015/16 Michael Page Australia Salary and Employment Outlook.

82 per cent of legal employers will be rewarding staff with a salary raise, 62 per cent of legal employers said they will reward staff with a bonus, the survey found.

Legal hiring is also on the increase according to the survey, with 47 per cent of legal employers planning to increase headcounts this financial year.

Michael Page Australia Legal and Technology HR director, John MacLean said the increase in staff numbers and salaries is indicative of good business confidence.  Lawyers in the three to six year PQE space in particular are in high demand as firms start to fill gaps that weren’t filled immediately following the GFC.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in hiring in the legal market in Australia and I think that’s partly because there has been an increase in business confidence.  There has been more work on the market front for lawyers,” said MacLean.  “There wasn’t a huge focus on junior lawyers, now as the market starts to pick up, firms are starting to look at their succession plans and gaps are beginning to appear.”

Specialists came in as the second most sought after, according to the report.

“We are also seeing demand for moves at the partner level, with the most significant challenges being the alignment of goals and values between the new firm and the incoming partner, as well the significant challenge for an incoming partner to establish and substantiate precisely which clients will follow them across to the new firm,” said MacLean.

Employers reported that work life balance is a major factor in retaining good staff, with 74 per cent of employers offering flexible working hours and 68 per cent offering the option to work from home.

“The perception of company culture presents an interesting juxtaposition,” MacLean said. “We frequently hear legal professionals commenting through the interview process it is often difficult to distinguish points of difference in the culture of similar sized firms and in-house legal teams.”

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