​Are you paid enough?

There’s good news, bad news and utterly unrealistic news in this HR-themed issue of The Lawyer Management, the first of 2013, in which we’re focusing particularly on the issue of pay and performance.

First, something to raise a smile in this gloomy January. As reported yesterday on The Lawyer, research from legal market management recruitment consultancy Totum has found that salaries for most business support professionals in UK law firms rose last year.

The news was particularly good for any high flyers working in finance, who took home on average £164,625 in 2012. It was less good for anyone sweating away in the wire-infested technology bowels of a law firm, as IT directors could only manage on average a paltry £113,785. Still, you can get a load of routers for that.

Now for the bad news. Well, in fact it’s only bad if you work in HR and it’s your job to break the news to a potential lateral that their sweet guaranteed pay deal they’d hoped for has just gone out the window in the post Dewey & LeBoeuf world. That seismic event is likely to have a chilling effect on partner guarantees but according to SR Search’s Sloane Poulton, both sides of any deal should go into it with their eyes wide open.

“Expensive fixed-term deals can lead to a mismatch between effort and reward, which is particularly problematic in uncertain markets where partners may not perform financially and/or key clients may not follow,” says Poulton.

As for the unrealistic? For that you need to turn to BDO’s new research on partner pay and performance, and specifically the finding that almost half of law firm partners don’t think they’re paid enough.

More pay? In a year that has already kicked off with rounds of redundancies at firms including CMS and Farrers, the words “in your dreams” spring to mind. That said, a cynic might say ‘a few less support staff means a few more quid for the partners…’

Matt Byrne