Fourth-five per cent of firms will be increasing salaries above CPI at the end of the financial year, up from 38% last year, a survey released by ALPMA this week has revealed.
Of the large firms (150 employees and over), 87% will increase at CPI or above, up from 82% last year.
Lawyers at med-large firms (75-149 employees) are not as likely to see an increase, with the number of firms indicating a wage freeze has doubled at 22%, compared with just 11% of medium sized firms imposing a freeze last year.
“Overall though Law Firms will pay for performance and they will pay to retain their top performers,” ALPMA board director Emma Elliott told Australasian Lawyer.
“Over recent years, and although more work needs to be done, law firms have gone, and are still going, through a period of change. That change is mainly to do with the way law firms are operated.
"There is definitely more of a commercial focus and with that renewed focus & strategy comes more transparency in relation to expectations of lawyers and how, for each firm, performance is defined. If the lawyers within these firms are hitting their performance targets, then they will be rewarded."
Elliott said lawyers in Victoria can expect a significant increase this year, an adjustment from the last few years in the state where salaries have remained static. Lawyers in WA may not be so lucky.
“WA on the other hand show a larger percentage of wage freezes and limited wage freezes expected this coming FY, but interestingly, WA still lead the way with the highest salaries in 11 out of the 14 Legal positions surveyed – I’d say this is a direct result of the of the mining boom – In years gone by WA Firms had to pay higher salaries not only to attract but to retain their lawyers.”
When it came to the gender pay gap, 39% of survey respondents indicated that the they think there is a gender pay gap issue in the legal industry, but most (82%) didn’t think there was a pay gap at their particular firm. Only 14% of firms are looking to do a gender pay gap analysis over the next 12 month period.
“Only 14% of firms looking into the issue of gender pay is far too low and leaves vast room for improvement,” Women Lawyers NSW president Lee-May Saw told Australasian Lawyer.
Equal pay is without doubt a major issue in the legal industry.
“It is essential that firms that are serious about genuine and effective leadership on gender diversity look at and address their gender pay gap.”
Saw said that the Workplace Gender Equality Agency identified the gender pay gap in the legal industry at 35.6% last year, much higher than the national gender pay gap of 17.9%.
“Greater focus by the legal industry and greater numbers of individual lawyers holding those responsible to account on the issue of gender pay will ensure this issue is not only looked in to but actioned upon and progressed,” she said.