NZ Lawyer salaries rising in 2016

While Australian legal salaries have been flat for the past year, New Zealand lawyers are seeing rises on the back of strong demand

NZ Lawyer salaries rising in 2016
by Mark Abernethy

Lawyer salaries in New Zealand are buoyant in 2016 compared to Australia although salaries are still lower than they are across the Tasman, according to the 2016 Hays Salary Guide.

“The market for legal talent in New Zealand continues to be very strong,” the report says. “This is based on increased demand for legal services due to high levels of business activity and an expanding economy. We are seeing a shortage of qualified candidates across the board but particularly in the areas of corporate and commercial law including construction, banking and finance, mergers and acquisitions and general transactional work.”

A New Zealand lawyer at a top tier firm, with 4-5 years experience, can expect salary of $90,000 in 2016, compared to $120,000 in a Sydney top tier, or $125,000 in Perth. With 6 years and more experience, a top tier lawyer in New Zealand can expect $120,000 compared to $170,000 in Sydney and $140,000 in Melbourne. Equity partners in New Zealand top tier firms can expect upwards of $300,000 compared to Sydney where the remuneration starts at $750,000.

The salary differences between New Zealand and Australia are much smaller in the mid tier and small practices. In a mid tier firm in New Zealand, with 4-5 years experience, a lawyer can expect to earn $80,000 this year, compared to the same lawyer in Sydney ($110k) or Perth ($115k). Mid tier equity partners range from $300,000+ in Sydney to $200,000+ in New Zealand.

In small practices, 4-5 years experience in New Zealand sees you earning $70,000 in 2016, compared with Sydney ($100k), Perth ($95k) and Brisbane ($90k). A small firm equity partner in New Zealand expects to earn upward of $140,000 compared with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth which all start at $250,000.

Hays’ report says, “overall, salary levels for legal talent have started to rise in line with the increasing demand for candidates although we still haven’t seen the same level of salary growth that we’ve observed in some other sectors.”
 

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