Pay returns to top of list for attracting new recruits

Cormell: Lawyers know their worth

Pay has returned to the top of the list for job-hunting lawyers, overtaking flexibility, but most fee-earners are happy where they are, a survey has found.

This was despite the proportion of lawyers concerned about job security doubling to 85%.

Realm Recruit, based in Cheshire, contacted over 200 legal professionals, 87% of whom said pay would make them most interested in moving, followed by promotion (54%) and greater flexibility/home working (52%).

They were followed by a better work/life balance (42%), more exciting work (40%) and a better workplace culture (30%).

The results contrast with Realm’s 2021 survey, which found that just over half of lawyers described flexible working as “very important” for them in changing jobs, compared to 41% who cited pay.

Researchers this year said pay was not only the most important factor when considering a move but “the most important priority overall” in a list that included culture, quality of work and promotion opportunities.

“Money was also the top motivating factor in terms of lawyers’ careers, beating love of the law, being challenged, and the prestige of the profession to the top spot.

“This was particularly true of millennial lawyers (typically those with between four and seven years of PQE), with 90% of lawyers in that age group saying that they were driven by what they earn.”

Only 15% of lawyers described their status in terms of looking for jobs as “active”, with 40% “passive” and the rest “inactive”.

Millennials were half as likely to be active (10%) as other lawyers. Meanwhile, the proportion of lawyers describing themselves as “engaged” in their current roles grew sharply from 58% to 71%.

Asked how long they planned to stay at their current firm, only a fifth (22%) of lawyers said for less than a year, with 16% saying more than a decade.

Two-thirds of lawyers said they wanted to become a partner at a law firm, with only 10% saying they did not, and most expecting to be a partner by the age of 40.

Eight out of ten who changed jobs in the last 12 months secured a pay rise, with almost half (48%) securing an increase of more than 10%. In contrast, 41% of those staying with their current firm achieved an increase of less than 5%.

A third of lawyers said their firm allowed them to work from home every day. A similar proportion (32%) said the figure was three days.

Duane Cormell, managing director of Realm Recruit, commented: “We can see that pay has overtaken flexibility once again as the top priority for lawyers, no doubt vastly influenced by the cost of living and the fact that lawyers know their worth in the current market.

“With just 15% of lawyers currently identifying as active jobseekers, law firms have to work harder than ever before to pique the interest of prospective employees.

“Firms must assess their employer value proposition and ensure that they are paying their lawyers properly – in addition to a range of other factors – if they are to attract, recruit and retain the best people for their business.”

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