Australia reports salary rise in line with higher performance

Australian lawyers enjoyed an average salary increase of 9 per cent last year, despite an increasing emphasis on financial performance leading many firms to implement strict qualifying criteria.

A survey by recruitment agency Mahlab Recruitment revealed that while salary increases at a select number of leading Sydney firms topped 24 per cent, the majority had maintained high performance targets, although others dispensed with discretionary bonuses altogether.

The increased focus on financial performance was also found to have resulted in the track to partnership being lengthened by two years to 10-12 years, although firms have sought to counterbalance this by increasing the number of senior associate promotions.

Mahlab found that graduates in Sydney received an average salary of A$ 55,000 (£21,500), while lawyers with five years’ post-qualification experience (PQE) received an average $125,000 (£48,800).

This compares with an average in London of £40,000 to £51,000 for graduates and £60,000 to £80,000 for lawyers with five years’ PQE.

As a result, top-tier firms in Australia are once again said to be bracing themselves for loss of talent overseas as the UK’s leading firms ramp up their recruitment campaigns in Australia following an upswing in the corporate market.

Australian salary survey
Top-tier firm Sydney (£K) London (£K) New York (£K)
Newly qualified 16-25 40-51 63-77
PQE 1 17-30 43-56 68-82
PQE 2 20-35 46-62 71-93
PQE 3 23-47 50-68 74-101
PQE 4 25-56 54-74 82-109
PQE 5 30-64 60-80 90-116
Source: Mahlab Survey 2004

Partner salaries in Australia
Sydney (£K) Melbourne (£K)
Top-tier firms 322 275
Mid-tier firms 183 155
Small firms 141 108
Source: Mahlab Survey 2004