2016 Legal Salary & Benefits Guide

James Gallagher 27.04.2016

The Ireland Legal 2016 Salary & Benefits Guide covers salary ranges for legal and tax professionals.

 In-House Legal Salaries

Head of Legal5+100,000 - 300,000100,000 - 275,000100,000 - 250,000100,000 - 220,000
Senior Lawyer5+80,000 - 150,00080,000 - 140,00080,000 - 130,00080,000 - 120,000
Lawyer1 - 345,000 - 70,00045,000 - 65,00042,000 - 60,00040,000 - 50,000
 3 - 570,000 - 100,00065,000 - 90,00060,000 - 80,00050,000 - 70,000
Newly Qualified Solicitor0 - 145,000 - 65,00042,000 - 60,00042,000 - 55,00040,000 - 48,000
Junior Company Secretary1 - 240,000 - 50,00040,000 - 50,00035,000 - 45,00032,000 - 42,000
Company Secretary2 - 450,000 - 70,00045,000 - 55,00045,000 - 50,00042,000 - 50,000

Legal in Private Practice Salaries

Solicitor1 - 345,000 - 65,00042,000 - 60,00042,000 - 55,00040,000 - 55,000
3 - 565,000 - 80,00055,000 - 75,00055,000 - 75,00050,000 - 70,000
5+80,000 - 120,00075,000 - 120,00075,000 - 95,00070,000 - 90,000
Newly Qualified Solicitor0 - 145,000 - 60,00035,000 - 45,00042,000 - 52,00040,000 - 50,000
Company Secretary1 - 240,000 - 50,00040,000 - 50,00035,000 - 45,00032,000 - 42,000
2 - 450,000 - 70,00045,000 - 55,00045,000 - 50,00042,000 - 50,000

Typical range of benefits for legal professionals:

Benefit Type Management Non-Management
Pension 4% - 9% employer contribution4% - 6% employer contribution
Healthcare Usually plan b VHI - full cover for employee and dependents cover inclusive of employee and dependantsVaries can be cover for employee only and in larger firms/companies - employee and dependents
Bonus up to 20%up to 10%
Annual Leave 25-30 days22-28 days
Life Assurance 3 times basic salary - 4 times basic salary2 times basic salary - 4 times basic salary
Other onsite canteen, travel ,tax scheme, etc.

Demand for solicitors and company secretaries in both law firms and in-house legal departments has increased during 2015.  This has led to firms making strenuous efforts to retain their best talent, offering significant pay increases as well as improved peripheral packages.

Legal professionals left the sector during the recession years and consequently there is now a talent shortage in some areas. More recently qualified lawyers can look forward to opportunities for fast career advancement, including a move to in-house roles if they build up the right experience and commercial exposure.

There has been a significant number of new openings in Commercial Property in private practice as the number of positions was reduced following the economic downturn.  Individuals with strong Banking, Aviation and Corporate Transactions experience are also in demand in private practice and there is continuing uplift from multinationals to build up legal teams to cope with an increased regulatory environment. 

Litigation has been more stable, although the focus has shifted away from enforcement and debt collection back to more Commercial Litigation involving contractual disputes. Likewise, in Banking there is less emphasis on remediation and more demand for solicitors with experience in new lending.

A talent shortage exists at entry to mid levels, typically for candidates with two to five years of post-qualification experience who can join at the junior end of a legal team.  However, there is also demand at the more senior levels dependent on the needs of specific firms and teams. 

As the market has improved, job seekers have become more active with a lot of speculative interest in upcoming opportunities. One consequence is that practices now need to focus on retention strategies which include keeping experienced and senior solicitors on board by looking at fringe benefits, bonuses and work-life balance.

Overall the market is strong for talented legal professionals.  Hiring organisations are willing to be more flexible on skill sets, those employers who have streamlined recruitment processes are securing the best talent by getting offers out to candidates before the competition.

There has been a shift of gender balance in the legal profession towards a slightly greater number of female solicitors.  We are also starting to see significant increase in salaries, running at an average of 8-10%, we expect this to continue into 2016.

Demand has also increased for Company Secretaries. There are currently a number postgraduate course options for professionals looking to qualify in corporate governance such as UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance and University of Ulster MSc Management and Corporate Governance (“ICSA”). Their salary and bonus expectations have increased during 2015 and we envisage this trend continuing into 2016.

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