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Legal salary survey indicates pay rises above CPI

28 March 2018

A New Zealand survey by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and McLeod Duminy has found that 50% of the responding law firms expect to be offering pay rises above the rate of CPI in 2018.

The New Zealand Legal Industry Salary and HR Issues Survey was completed by 101 firms employing 2,676 staff. It was conducted by research firm Survey Matters.

It found that 2% of responding firms were planning a total wage increase, 17% a limited freeze with increases for some positions only, 22% a CPI-adjusted increase, and 50% above CPI individual employee negotiated increases.

ALPMA NZ chair Sheryll Carey says 56% of firms supplemented increases with bonus payments available to all staff, which is 15% more firms than offered this in 2017.

“For fee-earners, bonus payments are calculated on their individual financial performance – usually based on fees they generate for the firm – while bonuses for other staff mainly relate to discretionary individual performance measures,” she says.

Ms Carey says most lawyers can expect to receive at least an additional 5% of their base salary in bonuses; senior managers can expect between 3-5%, while support staff can expect less than 2% of base remuneration from bonus payments.

The survey found that half of respondent firms expected to hire new staff predominately to fuel firm growth in 2018.

Employee retention was the top HR issue and the research showed average employee turnover at 14% at law firms over the last year. This was down from a high of 18% turnover in 2017.

Ms Carey says that while flexible work arrangements are on the rise, the research showed that only 19% of firms offered parental leave entitlements over and above the government scheme.

She says close to a third of respondents believed there was a gender pay gap in the New Zealand legal services industry (up 7% from 2017) – yet despite this, few (6%) believed there was a gap at their firm. Accordingly, only 11% of firms planned to conduct a gender-pay gap audit.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019