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|