Legal industry salaries are not looking positive, with 65 per cent of employers saying they will increase their salaries by a mere three per cent according to a salary survey conducted by recruitment company Hays.
While the outlook is somewhat dreary, Hays predicted that lawyers working in M&A and in the construction sectors are most likely to see a pay increase higher than three per cent.
“I think the more specialised you are, the more specialised the legal area you work in, you’ve got more of a chance to get a bigger increase, provided that the market you are working in is buoyant,” said Darren Buchanan, Director of Hays Legal.
“We’re seeing strong candidate demand in many areas, especially in private practice across property, construction, banking & finance and mergers & acquisitions.”
“A lot of companies are working on reduced margins or are under pressure from their clients to reduce their clients,” Buchanan added.
Of the 2,610 organisations surveyed, 17 per cent did not increase staff salaries at all in their last pay review. Despite this, Hays expects that long term, the legal industry will start to see a broader pickup in salaries, just not in the immediate future.
Staff turnover is on the increase with 27 per cent of companies reporting higher movement. Buchanan said cut backs at the top end are creating hiring opportunities for medium and small firms.
“I think its quite likely that companies and managers have higher expectations of the people they are employing now because there is more pressure, I think there is less tolerance for poor performance,” he said. “There are a lot of companies at the top end, the larger firms in the legal sector have been letting people go and making cut backs, I think that’s meant that the small and medium sized firms have been able to pick people up.”