Pay has risen again across the legal sector, a prestigious survey has shown - especially for those in senior roles.
BusinessLive’s sister site TotallyLegal polled more than 900 legal professionals - from general counsels to solicitors and legal PAs - to find out about salaries, bonuses and job satisfaction.
Its 2023 Salary Survey showed that 58% of those polled received a salary increase in 2023, with pay rising in almost every practice area.
Meanwhile, the average salary for many legal jobs grew this year. General counsel jobs continued to award the highest salaries in the profession with the average for those polled stood at £120,240 - up 6% on last year’s figures.
The survey showed the trend favoured well-paid positions, with 75% of associates and 67% of in-house counsel adding to their annual income. Meanwhile there were also rises for 61% of those in general counsel and head of department jobs.
Rises were also on offer for 55% of respondents working in paralegal jobs, 62% of legal executives and 71% of legal PAs.
But after enjoying pay rises in 2022, those in junior positions, including administrators and legal secretaries, were less likely to receive a rise.
The proportion of legal secretaries who received a raise fell from 63% in 2022 to only 31%, while just 30% of graduate trainees saw a rise in 2023, compared to 57% in 2022. Some 60% of legal HR professionals earned an increase in 2023, down on last year’s 75%.
The average salary for heads of department stood at £91,776, with an average 16% pay increase - the biggest rise in those polled.
In-house counsels were paid on average £88,423. While the role still ranks within TotallyLegal’s top three earners, salaries have remained stagnant since the last report, with earnings rising less than 1% in 2023. Audience members in partner jobs saw a 3% decline to £82,500.
The survey also showed the industry-wide gender pay gap narrowed from 33% to 13%, “due to game-changing movement across in-house counsel roles, where average earnings are almost evenly split”.
Women also outnumber men in several of the sector’s most senior positions. Industry-wide, the average salary for male respondents was £72,313, compared to £63,903 for females – a difference of £8,410.
Women are increasingly well-represented in the senior positions surveyed here, making up 55% of heads of department, 62% of partners and in-house counsel and 49% of general counsel roles.
However, the gender balance is very different further down the pay scale. Among the respondents to the survey, 100% of conveyancer, legal HR roles, legal PAs and legal secretary jobs are filled by women, as well as 80% of legal executive positions.