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Most UK in-house lawyers looking to change jobs this year, survey finds

'2014 is likely to be a year of significant growth in the legal sector'

18 February 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Improved job security and economic confidence is causing an increased proportion of in-house lawyers to look for new roles, according to a UK survey.

It found that 71 per cent of respondents are either actively looking for a move or would move if the right opportunity presented itself, a five per cent increase on 2012/13.

Eighty nine per cent said they felt secure or very secure in their jobs. In addition, 61 per cent are optimistic or extremely optimistic about the economy over the next year.

"Stability means lawyers are more confident about changing roles. After a few years of uncertainty, there's a lot of pent-up demand from people to move on and further their careers. There is also greater optimism about new roles being created and there should be more opportunities for people to move," said Chris Cayley, EMEA managing director of recruiter Laurence Simons, which conducted the survey.

"2014 is likely to be a year of significant growth in the legal sector, with indications that many law firms, for example, are experiencing a much higher level of activity in their corporate, finance and real estate departments. Furthermore, many are optimistic about their approaching year-end results."

The survey of 383 UK lawyers (of which 78 per cent are in-house lawyers and 19 per cent are in private practice) found that lawyers' salaries have risen by £5,000, or five per cent, over the past year. The average salary now stands at £108,690, up from £103,450 in 2012/13. The research was conducted between 7 October and 4 November 2013.

However, the average bonus fell from 34 per cent of salary in the previous year to 29 per cent - in cash terms, a fall from £35,590 to £31,495 currently. Therefore, total remuneration rose by just one per cent from £139,040 in 2012/13 to £140,185 currently.

Commented Cayley: "Rising salaries are a sign that the legal sector has returned to stability after a tough period. We saw green shoots in 2012/13, with higher bonuses showing signs of tentative confidence. Salary increases demonstrate long-term commitment to staff and confidence that prospects for 2014 are better."

The survey found that 47 per cent of lawyers expect headcounts to increase in their departments over the next year, compared to just five per cent who think headcounts will decrease.

The UK economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2007 and is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to grow by 2.4 per cent in 2014.





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