Salaries and rewards increase in the legal sector

Most legal employees in Northern Ireland received a pay rise in 2017, according to a regional Salary Survey Report by Abacus Professional Recruitment.

According to the survey of 150 people across a variety of roles in the legal sector, 55 per cent of Northern Ireland legal employees saw a pay increase last year and almost 50 per cent received a bonus.

Salary expectations in the legal sector are high, with 86 per cent of legal employees expecting a basic pay increase in 2018 - the highest pay expectations of any professional sector.

Of those working in legal, 60 per cent of legal non-practice professionals experienced a pay increase in 2017 compared to 58 per cent working in legal support and 48 per cent of qualified professionals.

The salary survey also highlighted significant differences between the pay of partners, senior associate solicitors and recently qualified solicitors.

On average, the survey revealed partners in Northern Ireland earn £63,000. This is 143 per cent more than newly qualified solicitors and 64 per cent more than senior associate solicitors.

Average salaries for non-practice legal professionals ranged from £64,822 for a legal department head, £45,770 for those at mid-senior level and £32,965 for junior level positions in Northern Ireland.

Stuart John, associate director and head of legal at Abacus Professional Recruitment, said: “Whilst legal support has no shortage of jobs on offer, there is a lack of candidates for the roles.

“In our view, more legal companies are eager to recruit from the fresh local talent pool but businesses must be aware of the needs and desires of the talent emerging from our educational establishments including schools, colleges and universities.

“Additionally, we have invested in international initiatives such as ‘Belfast for Life’ to encourage the legal diaspora community to return home to take up these competitive opportunities here in NI.”