Sean Cully
Sean Cully
Associate Director

Articles From the Team

Belfast private practice legal salary review – 2022

From Sean Cully

Legal recruitment in Northern Ireland has remained busy throughout 2022, with salaries seeing a notable increase as firms look to attract the right talent.

As a result of such high demand, firms are competing for talent not only through base salary but a range of other benefits. Such benefits can include promotion upon moving, flexible/agile working arrangements, additional/enhanced holiday leave, learning and development opportunities, enhanced maternity/paternity leave, etc.

International and national firms taking the lead

The international and UK national firms have pushed salaries in Belfast above those being offered by the more established domestic firms.

NQ salaries have seen a long overdue increase with national firms’ NQ salaries in Belfast now being between £35,000 and £40,000.

Since Covid and the adoption of home working, in some instances lawyers living in Northern Ireland have found they are able to work for practices in Great Britain on higher salaries, while continuing to base themselves in Northern Ireland.

International firm Pinsent Masons publicly addressed the competition from the rest of the UK and Dublin in terms of salaries. Andrea McIlroy-Rose, partner and head of its Belfast office, said, “conscious of the competition from Dublin and the rest of the UK to work in different locations, we have rebased our salaries beyond the local market levels to help encourage our talented people to remain in or return to Northern Ireland.”

Tailored benefits

Other benefits such as pension contributions are now an important part of any benefits package, more so for those at the more senior end.

As such, employers tend to have a strong base of core benefits for all staff to avail themselves of, and then provide additional benefits for more senior staff. Taking time to tailor the benefits offering is just as important as making the correct basic salary offer.

While salaries in Belfast remain lower than the rest of the UK and Dublin, they have increased over the past 12 months and demand for lawyers across most practice areas remains high. However, areas such as banking and finance, corporate and real estate have been particularly busy.

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