Mark Levine
Mark Levine
Managing Director: In-house

Articles From the Team

In-house legal salary review - 2022

From Mark Levine

Across the country it is clear that salaries for lawyers have increased since the pandemic. In the main this is down to supply and demand economics – there has been a huge demand for lawyers but not enough of them to go around.

Many companies that we speak to have been looking to add to their legal teams, due to growing levels of work, but at the same time might also have lost a team member so, instead of looking for one lawyer, they are often in the market for two!

The supply side is always “tight”, in that companies are often looking for lawyers at around two-to-four-years PQE, ideally with commercial contracting experience, some in-house exposure and a winning personality!

A tale of two crises

During the years following the financial crash of 2008-09 many law firms stepped back from training lawyers in commercial contracts because of lack of work in this area, only re-focusing on this area of law in 2014.

This meant it wasn’t until 2016 that NQs were qualifying with commercial as their core experience. For the previous six or more years the number of lawyers coming to the market with this vital in-house skill was massively reduced, and the impact is being felt in today’s marketplace.

Fast-forward four years from 2016 to late 2020, when we started to see recruitment heat up as we came out of the first phase of the pandemic, and the war for talent began. It hasn’t stopped yet.

Impact on salaries

Leaving aside those London private practice lawyers who have made a move in-house (in-house roles don’t pay £150,000 for an NQ!) we have seen salary increases for those moving jobs at often eye-watering percentages.

Most of the businesses that we assist at BCL Legal are large, and they are often well-known names. With strong legal teams already in place they are often keen to attract lawyers from top tier firms.

Even in the regions these law firms have increased NQ salaries from around £50,000 to £65,000, and if those businesses want to bring in top-trained lawyers then the salaries they offer need to be competitive.

From an in-house perspective, salaries will track with national firms, but the reality is that they can’t compete financially with the larger international firms.

From a lawyer’s perspective a decision must be made if you want to move away from private practice and really want to move in-house. It certainly can’t solely be for financial reasons.

We do, however, see a wider range of benefits throughout our client portfolio, including bonuses, car allowances, varying pension contributions and other perks.

Regarding salaries, junior to mid level lawyers have been seeing a 20-40 per cent increase on their salaries, with senior level lawyers at the 15-20 per cent level.

Not bad if you can get it!

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