The future’s looking bright for Auckland firms

by Sol Dolor31 Oct 2016
Most Auckland firms are looking to keep lawyers and support staff with many indicating they are looking to increase headcount.
According to the 2016 edition of the Auckland-wide Legal Personnel Salary Survey, 52% of firms want to maintain their number of solicitors while a close 48% are even looking to expand.
In terms of support staff, 70% of law firms say they want to keep the same headcount while 26% said they consider growing.
The survey involved 462 individuals – 220 solicitors and 242 legal support salaries – at 53 firms in the Central City and the wider west, east and south Auckland area.
The study also looked at turnover and found that 54% of firms reported low to no turnover of professional people with 35% indicating average turnover.
Meanwhile, 68% of firms said they had low to no turnover of legal support staff while 28% said they had average turnover.
Adding to the rosy outlook for those in Auckland law firms, the study found that no firm was looking to decrease solicitor numbers and only 4% of the firms were looking at trimming support staff headcount.
“It is a very positive outlook for both firms and people employed with firms looking to grow overall numbers employed,” said Judith Eller, director at Legal Personnel.
“A measure of people’s “happiness in their work” is the turnover and with a very low level of turnover, although a marginally higher interest from solicitors to move this year, by and large firms and people have got it right. Good news,” she added.
Acquiring talent, salary increases and benefits
The study found that the increase in the recruitment of graduates seen last year continued into 2016.
“An interesting development is the interest of firms to recruit graduates into legal secretarial roles with a clear path, most times, to a solicitor’s position in 12 months’ time,” Eller said.
Meanwhile, asked about salary increases, most firms said they were eyeing or have already given an increase of up to 3% this year, followed by 4-5%.
“There is a strong correlation between inflation and salaries. With inflation running at 0.4%, a 3% increase looks good,” Eller said.
Furthermore, she noted that for stand-out candidates who come with great credentials and reputation, there is potentially more salary to gain on a move.
Law firms were also found to be increasingly using incentives to attract and retain talent.
Over half among the participants indicated including incentives in solicitors’ and support staff’s packages.
Benefits include bonus schemes, medical insurance subsidies, flu vaccines, supporting further study, mobile phones and plans, carparks, gym subsidies, newspaper subscriptions, travel insurance, company vehicles, home internet provision and laptops or tablets, Legal Personnel noted.  
Meanwhile, salaried partners are even more pampered since in addition to the above benefits, their packages were found to include wine allowances, additional annual leave, Koru Club membership, PI insurance and vehicle expenses.

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