Optimism returns to the legal sector but salaries remain static, says Hays

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The Hays Legal Salary Guide 2013

A sense of optimism is returning to the legal sector with a resounding 70% of employers expecting to see their workload grow over the coming year. However, despite this increased workload most employers are opting to work the resource they currently have within a carefully managed cost based, rather than increased headcount or significantly increase salaries according to the Hays Legal Salary Guide 2013.

Many employers are all too aware of a number of skills gaps in their workforce. Nearly half (43%) believe a focus on additional technical skills will be the most important factor to enable their organisation to achieve its current business objectives. 36% believe leadership is another key feature in meeting those aims. Against a backdrop of increasing workloads, the issues of managing a work-life balance and salary levels are high on the agenda for legal professionals in the coming year, with just under two thirds (61%) of employees saying their workload had increased in the last 12 months. Encouragingly, 40% said they still had a good or very good work-life balance.

With salaries largely static across the legal sector, it is perhaps not surprising that pay is a focus for individuals. When employees were asked about the most important factor when considering a new role, 64% said salary level would be the most important factor, followed by work-life balance (9%). 71% of employers said they expected to maintain or introduce a small inflation linked increase in their workforce’s salary in the next 12 months. However, the management of this maybe challenging as candidates still expect to receive an above inflation increase when moving role.

Despite these challenges, there are areas of new demand for legal professionals particularly within private practice as employers look to fill critical positions within commercial property, personal injury and professional indemnity teams. The economic crisis has also significantly increased demand for lawyers with regulatory expertise especially in financial services. There continues to be a demand for legal professionals in the relatively recession-proof sectors such as IT, telecoms and insurance.

Yvonne Smyth, Director of Hays Legal, comments, “A sense of confidence is returning among sections of the legal market with over 70% of employers expecting to see an increase in their workload over the coming year. Despite this, there are still headcount restrictions and the lack of real upward movement on salaries is stalling the market to a degree. In light of the competitive nature of the market candidates will need a CV and experience that specifically targets in demand areas to make their mark. Good academics, strong technical and leadership experience and languages skills are all in demand as employers refine their search for a lawyer who can add real value to their teams.”

Legal salaries

  •     Newly qualified in a large London law practice can earn up to £67,000
  •     Newly qualified in financial services can earn up to £55,000
  •     Solicitor in the public sector with up to 5 years post-qualified experience can earn in the region of £44,000
  •     Up to 7+ years post qualified experience in a New York firm with a London office can earn up to £175,000

About the Hays Legal Salary Guide 2013
The Hays Legal Salary Guide 2013 is compiled from a survey of 101 employers and 221 employees. To read the salary guide visit: http://www.hays.co.uk/legal-salary-guide


About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2012 the Group employed 7,800 staff operating from 245 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2012:

– The Group reported net fees of £734 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £128 million;
– The Group placed around 55,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 182,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 33% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 36% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 31% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– The temporary placement business represented 56% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 44% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA

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Deepa Bose
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