JLU: Junior Lawyers' Union

Asserting the rights of junior lawyers, who have much more power than they realise.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Firm offers unexpected pay rise

I am torn today about how to report this breaking news. So let me begin with the facts and then offer two alternative analyses.


Facts

In an unexpected move, a top-tier law firm has this week advised its first and second year lawyers that they are to receive a pay rise. The firm's long-standing policy is to review junior lawyers' salaries annually on 1 July only but, citing unexpected increases in market rates, the firm has increased lawyers' annual salaries by $2,500 as of 1 January 2007.


Analysis #1

Despite the spin the firm in question has attempted to put on the pay rise, this is the same firm that we reported failed to increase salary bands in its annual pay rise in July of this year. Consequently, rather than coming six months early, the pay rise could easily be viewed as coming six months late.

Moreover, in recent months, firms generally - and this firm in particular - have suffered from especially high "attrition" rates. As we have noted previously, law firms expect to lose some staff. They budget for it. However, of late, it could fairly be said that the firm in question has been haemorrhaging talent.

Realising that it is losing good people at an alarming rate, this firm has been driven to desperate measures - offering lawyers the pay rise they should have had back in July and packaging it as an act of generosity. After all, the firm itself admits that the reason underlying the pay rise is that it had begun to lag behind prevailing top-tier market rates.


Analysis #2

The JLU recently called on law firms to stop poaching lawyers from elsewhere and start actively trying to retain them.

Having criticised firms (as recently as the latest post) for failing to adequately reward junior lawyers or ensure that they feel genuinely valued, the JLU is obliged to commend the firm in question for rising above the plummeting expectations junior lawyers have of their employers. Rather, this firm has demonstrated a degree of goodwill - sorely lacking among commercial law firms - as well, crucially, as a desire to recognise the contribution made by its junior lawyers.


I leave it to you to choose an interpretation. Or could it possibly be that a firm has begun to realise (like BP) that high employee morale can actually benefit a firm's bottom line?

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Kmart Law Firms said...

This is exactly what Minter Ellison did in Sydney a couple of years ago.
Despite lawyers at all levels pleading with the firm to undertake some bona fides research into market pay rates - it took the firm about three years before it started listening.
Of course, the HR consultants advised Minters that it was paying well below market - and low and behold everyone received an unexpected January pay increase.

20 April, 2007 23:10  

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