Pay rises are the number one reason lawyers switch firms, research shows

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By Bradley Fountain-Green on


Unhappiness also up there

New research has shown pay to be the biggest reason lawyers moved jobs in the last 12 months.

Of the 338 respondents that moved firms in the past year, more than half (56%) said they moved for a pay rise. This figure is up 20% from the year before, when only 36% of job-moving lawyers said did it for the money.

The research, conducted earlier this summer, is part of an annual salary audit by legal recruitment specialist Realm Recruit. The legal professionals surveyed were predominantly from North West of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands and at a range of career stages.

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Sarah Glynn, associate director and head of client experience at Realm Recruit commented:

“With the tightest talent market in years and the added pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s harder than ever for law firms to attract and recruit the people that are going to help drive profitability. However, it’s clear that money is at the forefront of lawyers’ minds and paying properly (or at least in line with the market rate) is crucial.”

Avid Legal Cheek readers will already know that switching firms pays off financially, with lawyers who moved earning a 15% salary increase on average. 85% of the surveyed law firms had also increased salaries for existing team members by 5-10% in 2023.

But pay wasn’t the only reason lawyers moved, with 34% of respondents citing unhappiness or disengagement in their current role and 32% moving for greater flexibility.

Flexibility and greater working from home opportunities became especially important to those later on in their legal career, with the research showing that firms who offer working from home three days a week are now above the market average. This is despite nine out of ten respondents saying flexible working was important to them and 87% seeing home working as a priority.

Unmanageable workloads and a lack of opportunities to progress were amongst other popular reasons lawyers made the switch.

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