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First Counsel’s law firm salaries and benefits survey 29/03/2010

First Counsel recently revealed the results of its 4th annual law firm business support salary and benefits survey. The report compares HR information against other business support functions.

First Counsel’s law firm salaries and benefits survey

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  1. HR salary pay compared to other business functions
  2. Key salary trends across law firms
  3. Details of salary survey

HR salary pay compared to other business functions

• If you an HR director you are likely to earn more than your counterpart in IT, but less than directors in finance and marketing/business development.

• This year we found that on average HR had the lowest turnover of staff compared to other functions, at just 14% compared to 49% in marketing/business development.

• On average HR has the lowest ratio of support staff to fee earners, at the larger firms it is around 1:25.

• Average salaries for people working in law firms in London are between 39% (at manager level) and 77% (at senior manager level) higher than out of London salaries. The equivalent figure for director level is 50% higher.

Key salary trends across law firms

Looking at wider data across all the business support functions we have identified a number of key trends in law firms this year.

 • Average salary levels have decreased.

• There have been significant reductions in bonus payments, especially across more junior roles. In contrast, however, bonuses at director level have, in many instances, increased.

• 22% of firms did not award any bonuses this year and a further 17% reduced the bonus amounts awarded.

• Average bonus awards were 8.9% at director level, 4.1% at senior manager level, 3.8% at manager level and 1.9% at officer level.

• Firms have cut costs by reducing money spent on things like overtime and support for professional qualifications.

Details of salary survey

These findings have all come directly from our latest survey, which is our most comprehensive yet. Some of these facts are what we expected to see, given the current climate, but some are more surprising, we have not explored the reasons why the trends are the way they are here as we are sure that you, like us, will have your own view.  

If you work in a law firm and would like details about how your firm can take part in next year’s survey please visit our salary survey page.

The report is free to those firms who agree to take part (i.e. - we pay for it and do it in conjunction with a research agency - Winmark). This year we had 74 firms take part which is a new high. Only the firms who take part receive copies of the final report and we always get very positive feedback on the data.

Deborah Collett, consultant, First Counsel

Deborah Collett, consultant, First Counsel

Debbie specialises in the recruitment of law firm management professionals covering marketing, business development, HR, Finance and IT as well as general management roles.