Salaries for lawyers who moved firms last year increased by three times as much as those for lawyers who stayed loyal to their firms, according to new research by legal recruitment consultancy Realm Recruit.
As part of its annual salary research conducted earlier this summer, Realm Recruit found that legal professionals who moved jobs in the last year achieved an average pay increase of 15%.
In comparison, 37% of those who stayed at their firm received a pay rise of less than 5%, while 18% didn’t receive a pay rise at all. This data is supported by Realm Recruit’s survey of law firms, which found that 85% of firms increased pay by 5-10% this year.
A pay rise was the number one reason lawyers moved firms last year, with 56% of those who had taken on a new opportunity saying a pay rise was the trigger for them exploring the job market.
However, 64% of lawyers believe they are paid fairly. This figure has nearly doubled compared to 2022, suggesting that inflated costs have encouraged lawyers to aim to increase their earnings, despite some already earning close to the market rate for their level of PQE.
The 338 survey respondents were based primarily across the North West of England, Yorkshire, and the Midlands, and included solicitors of all levels of post-qualified experience as well as non-qualified lawyers.
“It’s clear that in today’s tight market, in which just one in 10 lawyers are actively looking to move roles, firms are willing to do what it takes to secure the best talent,” said Kelly Reid, Associate Director and specialist in private client recruitment at Realm Recruit:
“With high inflation and cost of living, more and more lawyers are keen to boost their earnings and those who explore new opportunities will have a better chance of doing so.
While it’s true that firms should focus on securing new talent to grow sustainably and profitably, they mustn’t neglect their existing staff. A solid retention strategy involving regular pay reviews and salary benchmarking, but also a strong Employer Value Proposition more generally, is key if firms are to keep their best people.”