Points of discussion
- There was agreement that some of the lawyer starting salaries of £100k+ are beyond the reach of small to mid-size law firms. These firms have to offer other benefits to compete with the salaries of these largest firms.
- Salary reviews typically take place on 1 January or 1 September once salary benchmarking information has come in (see below).
- The merits of performance related pay was discussed, which not all the firms have adopted. Some continue to use post-qualified experience (PQE) and both approaches were seen to have advantages.
- Most of the attendee firms publish their salary ranges bar one. Most publish bands up to eight years PQE. For some there is a squeeze in the middle, where in some instances Partners are not paid much more than experienced Senior Associates and it is a concern for retention.
Alternatives to partnershipIt was also clear from the discussion that partnership is no longer the only career route for lawyers. Roles such as Technical Director or Counsel / Senior Counsel are increasingly popular and seen as a genuine alternative career path. All firms offered alternatives to partnership – for example a career associate model with slightly less targeted hours. The general expectations of a Senior Counsel or a Legal Director is to:
- Manage a team.
- Be a technical expert.
- Have the same or slightly less chargeable hours than a Partner but fewer BD responsibilities.
- Deliver billings of four times their salary.
- Have bespoke objectives.