Is a pay rise on the horizon for lawyers?

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Most recruiters expect that while 2015 will bring increases for lawyers, most pay rises will not be significant ones.

“While salaries will increase, they’re likely to be conservative,” said Lisa Gazis, NSW managing director, Mahlab.  “The big increases of the past are not going to be given to everyone across the board anymore.  The environment has become a lot more merit-driven, and whilst there will be lawyers who will be finding that they are rewarded; we’re going to see increases in the form of bonuses.  We will be seeing salary increases, but they will be a lot more merit-driven and a lot more conservative than they might have been in the past.”

According to Steven Cole, managing director, Signature consulting, salary increases of 3 – 6 percent, depending upon the area of law, will probably be the average pay rise in 2015. 

“That’s not to say that talented lawyers can’t earn good salaries, but it’s not going to be the sorts of numbers that we were talking about previously, and not everyone is necessarily going to be getting a salary review,” said Gazis.  “In order to do well or even be able to get a bonus now, you’re going to have to be able top perform above expectations.  If you’re meeting expectations now in your role, that will increase, but it might not be enough to get you into the bonus sphere,” she said.

Jason Elias, from Elias Recruitment, said a salary increase across the profession is due this year.

“I’ve heard of people having to almost resign before they get pay rises.  I think firms have got away with that for a little while, but I think there will probably be pressure upwards on salaries this year, which would be good an fair for everyone, because lawyers have taken a hit these last few years.”
The news is better for lawyers moving to new roles, however. 

“Firms are starting to get wise that they have to come up with attractive packages to get the best candidates in the market, and candidates are beginning to realise that they are king again, because we’re so candidate short,” said Cole, adding that sign on fees are becoming more prevalent and some firms are introducing bonus structures to help attract candidates.

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