You heard of the “Great Resignation” following the pandemic where everyone re-evaluated their career; this of course led to the “War for Talent” as companies then tried to plug the gaps made by exiting employees whilst the client instructions ramped up.
Looking back at early 2020 it’s a vastly different landscape to today. The pandemic hit hard; globally. Fortunately the majority of law firms were already, at least for the most part, set up to work remotely and so a transition to a 100% remote working workforce, whilst I’m sure it had its kinks, was for the most part smooth sailing.
Thereafter, even through the turbulence of lockdown after lockdown, the legal market managed to stabilise and as quick as it had stopped, it started again – but at a record pace with an unquenchable thirst to recruit and it hasn’t slowed down since!
It’s never been a better time to explore your options as a candidate, and what starts as an informal meeting with a firm fast becomes 5 or 6 offers that you’re holding…
So what to do next? When you’re holding offers for 5/6 of the best firms regionally/nationally/globally – how do you chose which is best for you?
Unless you are taking a leap from a smaller firm to something much bigger, or the reverse of this, then, generally speaking, the odds are you are trying to decision between one “really good law firm”, and another “really good law firm”. This is where salary comes into play, and where clearly a lot of practices are choosing to up the ante!
Never have we seen a market quite like this one; contrasting to 2020 when there were pay cuts, bonus withdrawals and redundancies, we are seeing people double their salaries, jump various levels of title and sign on the dotted line for the promise of double-digit “golden handshakes”. And with The Economist recently reporting that the cost of living is set to rise, why would you not go to the highest bidder?
A number of US law firms have reported increasing NQ salaries to well over £100k (Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Travers Smith etc. ), with the highest NQ salary being reported at £147k (Ropes & Gray). Six figure salaries for NQs in the city is now the norm and to try and compete, the regions are following suit with NQ rates being reported as rising to over £50,000 for most international and national firms in the larger cities (Addleshaw Goddard, Eversheds, Shoosmiths, DLA). Whilst this could be attributed to rewarding staff for record breaking financial years 20/21, it is too much of a coincidence that this comes at a time where retaining and attracting talent is at the top of every business’ agenda for 2022 and beyond.
But where does it end? Surely the market has to top out somewhere. Where is the tipping point when firms simply cannot afford to keep paying staff at this level? If only I had the answer to this.
My advice- make hay whilst the sun shines! If you are motivated by money then it’s a great time to explore your options! If not, and there are other motivators at play, get in touch and we can discuss what firms might be able to offer you what you are looking for!
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Our 2022 Legal Salary Guide has arrived!
2021 saw huge changes across the Legal sector, especially with the 'Great Resignation' and flexible working discussions dividing teams.
Get ahead of the curve for 2022 with our latest Salary Guide for Legal Expertise. You'll get insight into salaries across the country, plus insights into how Covid-19 and working from home has affected the UK workforce.
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