Auckland firms offering lawyers top salary, guide reveals

Special counsel and senior associates at boutique firms are getting the highest offers

Auckland firms offering lawyers top salary, guide reveals

Auckland firms are offering special counsel and senior associates the top salaries in the country, revealed a salary guide developed by recruitment agency Tyler Wren in partnership with the College of Law New Zealand.

According to the NZ Legal Salary Guide 2021/2022, boutique firms offer the highest rates to special counsel, with those at firms in Auckland receiving around $175,000. Those at firms in Wellington and regional areas get approximately $170,000, while those at firms in Christchurch receive about $160,000.

A similar pattern was observed among senior associates; those at specialist firms in Auckland generally receive about $165,000, while those at boutiques in Wellington and regional areas get around $160,000. Those at firms in Christchurch get approximately $150,000.

Special counsel at top-tier firms in Auckland typically receive around $170,000, while those in Wellington receive about $160,000 and those in Christchurch receive approximately $155,000. At mid-tier firms, special counsel in Auckland get approximately $150,000, while those in Wellington and Christchurch receive about $145,000 and $140,000, respectively. Special counsel at firms in regional areas also receive around $145,000.

Senior associates at top firms in Auckland generally received about $160,000, while those in Wellington and Christchurch get around $150,000 and $145,000, respectively. Those at mid-tier firms in Auckland get about $140,000, while those at firms in Wellington and regional areas get around $135,000. Those at mid-tier firms in Christchurch receive approximately $130,000.

Senior associates at general practices in Auckland receive $130,000, while those at firms in Wellington, Christchurch and regional areas get $125,000, $120,000 and $110,000, respectively.

“The market is more volatile than ever before and the demand for New Zealand and Australian-qualified lawyers is at an all-time high,” Tyler Wren wrote in the report. “Across the industry, salaries are increasing and those firms not offering an attractive salary and package are simply not securing the staff that they need in their teams.”

The recruitment agency pointed out that job seekers in the legal profession have the leverage in negotiating soft and hard benefits for themselves since they get multiple offers.

“Some firms are having open discussions with potential employees in terms of salary, hourly charge out rate, annual budget and daily billing hours to formulate the right balance per individual and new attraction techniques and package options are being adopted to entice the best talent,” the report authors explained.

Boutique firms and general practices in particular are looking to personalise benefits in accordance with individual needs rather than sticking to general provisions.

“This has allowed them to calibrate their workforce and attract individuals not just based on salary. This has also allowed them to compete with top tiers offering higher salary bandings,” Tyler Wren said.

The recruitment agency outlined the following benefits being offered in the industry:

  • Mental wellness support
  • Flexible working
  • Work from home capabilities
  • Laptops/mobile phones
  • Tailored progression plans
  • Annual bonuses
  • Travel allowances
  • Health/life insurance policies
  • Full salaried paid maternity leave
  • Part-time partnership opportunities
  • Relocation packages
  • Extended leave
  • Sign on bonuses
  • Part time options
  • Extended maternity pay
  • Paternity pay
  • Wellness allowances
  • Ability to buy/sell holidays
  • KiwiSaver on top of salary
  • Non-budgetary requirements
  • Parking
  • Secondments

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