In-housers poor relations to private practice

Salary disparities between private practice and in-house lawyers are the principal obstacle for companies looking to recruit additional legal capability.

So concludes the annual salary survey of legal recruitment company Garfield Robbins.
Results of the exercise – in which 3,000 in-house counsel across London are quizzed about pay, benefits and the development of their departments – showed that salaries have increased by an average of between 8 and 12 per cent. Despite this above-inflation rise, rates are failing to compete with the hikes witnessed in City firms over the past year.
These findings were reinforced by responses showing that 55 per cent of in-house departments seeking lawyers this year found it harder to lure them from private practice. Of these, 80 per cent attributed recruitment difficulties to the increases of lawyers' salaries in law firms.
With the highest average salary across all industry sectors for a head of legal position at just £134,950, in-house lawyers lag far behind their private practice counterparts. In comparison, a solicitor on the bottom of the equity ladder last year could expect to earn £320,000 at Clifford Chance or £150,000 at Newcastle firm Dickinson Dees.
On a positive note, against the background of a general economic slowdown, the demand for in-house lawyers has not diminished. Garfield Robbins partner Julian Stone commented: “The in-house legal market continues to remain buoyant and continues to remain the preferred option. However, in the past 12 months it's become apparent that companies are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the kind of lawyers they used to be able to command.”
Caroline Nussey, head of in-house recruitment at Taylor Root, said: “Salary does, of course, play a big part in a lawyer's mind, but there are a number of other things to consider.” Traditional among these are bonus payments, company car, healthcare and pension. A small percentage of companies across all industry sectors except property and construction also welcomed lawyers with a 'golden hello'. Some in-house lawyers at banks can also expect to double their salaries with bonus payments.
Deputy head of legal and business affairs at BSkyB James Conyers said that, although rare, joining a listed company could lead to share options as part of a remuneration package. His own observations on recruitment trends were that those lawyers who have been qualified for several years were increasingly hard to hire. “Normally we don't find it a problem because we recruit up to three-year qualifieds,” he said. “The salary differences aren't too great at this level.”

Salary Survey Table 2000-20001
  Banking & Financial Services (£) IT & Telecoms (£) Energy & Utilities (£) Property & Construction (£) Media & Leisure (£) Pharmaceuticals (£) Other (£)
General counsel head of legal 134,950 112,200 121,350 119,800 109,300 118,550 98,000
More than 8 years qualified 103,335 99,775 105,490 118,650 96,450 97,450 80,670
8 years qualified 90,550 89,875 92,666 88,250 88,000 90,900 71,450
7 years qualified 88,905 79,950 88,500 82,250 81,000 78,600 69,890
6 years qualified 88,335 75,450 68,700 67,000 73,150 69,750 63,000
5 years qualified 77,500 69,950 71,125 58,825 64,000 64,455 60,750
4 years qualified 65,775 58,750 55,000 50,151 56,850 51,400 50,000
3 years qualified 58,000 52,550 51,240 50,000 49,335 46,335 49,350
2 years qualified 52,250 46,830 46,176 49,725 43,000 35,950 40,500
1 year qualified 46,900 42,800 44,669 39,155 39,000 36,250 38,700