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In-House Salaries Set to Rise in 2015: Robert Half Legal

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 22, 2014 9:58 AM

Robert Half Legal is known for a lot of things, including an interesting survey on what lawyers think about our declining wardrobe standards. (Hint: Stuffy lawyers want to dress like they're stuffy.) But this survey might be even more interesting, at least for in-house counselors: It talks about compensation forecasts for 2015.

The Robert Half Legal 2015 Salary Guide was just released earlier this month (H/T to Bloomberg) and it has nothing but good news all around. Here's the key finding: Robert Half projects that salaries for in-house positions will increase in 2015 for attorneys at all sizes of companies and of all experience levels. Everybody's getting paid!

Let's Talk Money

How much do the most experienced in-house counsel make? According to Robert Half, in-house lawyers with 10 years or more of experience should fall somewhere within the range of $126,250 to $251,500 in 2015. (We'll give you a moment to check your paystubs and fire off an angry email accordingly.)

For the fresher folks -- in-house attorneys with four to nine years of experience -- the range is projected to be from $109,750 to $212,250.

And the absolute newbies? Those with zero to three years of experience should find themselves in the range of $81,500 to $156,500.

Who saw the biggest gains? The biggest bump (3.7 percent) was for the most experienced attorneys at mid-sized companies, while the lowest projected increase (2.4 percent) was for the least experienced lawyers at the smallest companies.

What About Perks and Retention?

Yesterday, we talked about the allure of flex time -- it's huge in terms of boosting employee morale and other metrics of job and life satisfaction. How did it fare in Robert Half Legal's survey?

Lawyers said that these were the best retention incentives:

  • Increased compensation or bonus (50 percent);
  • Challenging work or variety of assignments (20 percent);
  • Professional development opportunities (11 percent); and
  • Flexible work arrangements (12 percent).

Don't minimize the importance of flex time, however: Many of WorkingMother.com's survey respondents (both male and female) who had flex time reported positively on other attributes (like professional development) that aren't directly tied to flexible scheduling. Maybe there's some correlation/causation to be found there.

Who Are Hiring Managers Looking For?

Bad, yet utterly unsurprising news for young attorneys who didn't get on the BigLaw bandwagon: Robert Half also asked what lawyers think are the best predictors of a candidate's potential for success at their company. Nearly half -- 49 percent -- answered "previous work experience or prestige of former law firm/company."

The straight-to-in-house-from-school path is just as unlikely as we thought, it seems.

The report also noted that 56 percent of lawyers claim that it is hard to find skilled legal professionals today. Perhaps try thinking outside the BigLaw prestige box?

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