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Legal Salaries on the Rise: Financial Services & Large Firms Lead the Way

Published by
WIlliam Dube
  1. The 2023 Robert Walters Group legal industry salary report reveals steady salary growth for legal professionals, particularly in the financial services sector and large private practice firms.
  2. In-house commerce and industry salary ranges have remained consistent between 2022 and 2023, while the in-house financial services sector experienced salary growth for Legal Advisors/Counsel and Junior Legal Advisors/Counsel roles.
  3. Large private practice firms have seen salary range increases for Junior Directors/Salaried Directors and Senior Associates, while boutique private practice firms’ salary ranges have remained stable between the two years.

The Robert Walters Group, a British recruitment company specializing in placing professionals into permanent, contract, and temporary positions, has released its annual salary report for the legal industry. The data provides insight into the salary ranges and growth trends for various legal roles across in-house commerce and industry, in-house financial services, and private practice firms.

Legal professionals have continued to see steady salary growth in 2023, particularly in the financial services sector. The report details the salary ranges for different experience levels and role types in the legal industry.

In-house Commerce & Industry

The in-house commerce and industry sector has not experienced any major changes in salary ranges between 2022 and 2023. The salary range for a General Counsel with 15+ years of experience remains at R2.5m+. The Head of Legal role, requiring 10-15 years of experience, maintains a salary range of R1.5m to R2.5m. Senior Legal Advisors/Counsel with 8-10 years of experience can expect to earn between R1m and R1.5m. Legal Advisors/Counsel with 4-7 years of experience have a salary range of R700k to R1m, while Junior Legal Advisors/Counsel with 1-3 years of experience can expect to earn between R450k and R700k.

In-house Financial Services

The financial services sector has experienced some salary growth, particularly for Legal Advisors/Counsel and Junior Legal Advisors/Counsel roles. General Counsel and Head of Legal roles have maintained their salary ranges from the previous year, with both positions offering R2.5m+ and R1.5m to R2.5m, respectively. The salary range for Senior Legal Advisors/Counsel remains stable at R1m to R1.5m. However, Legal Advisors/Counsel with 4-7 years of experience now have a higher salary range, from R750k to R1m. Junior Legal Advisors/Counsel with 1-3 years of experience can expect to earn between R500k and R750k.

Private Practice (Boutique Firms)

For boutique private practice firms, the salary ranges have remained consistent between 2022 and 2023. Equity Directors/Senior Directors with 10+ years of experience can expect a salary of R1.2m+. Junior Directors/Salaried Directors with 8-10 years of experience have a salary range of R900k to R1.2m. Senior Associates with 4-7 years of experience can earn between R600k and R900k, while Associates with 0-3 years of experience have a salary range of R300k to R600k.

Private Practice (Large Firms)

Large private practice firms have experienced growth in salary ranges for Junior Directors/Salaried Directors and Senior Associates. Equity Directors/Senior Directors with 10+ years of experience continue to have a salary range of R2m+. However, Junior Directors/Salaried Directors with 8-10 years of experience can now expect a higher salary range of R1.3m to R1.9m. Senior Associates with 4-7 years of experience also have an increased salary range of R900k to R1.3m. The salary range for Associates with 0-3 years of experience remains the same at R600k to R900k.

In summary, the 2023 Robert Walters Group legal industry salary report shows a trend of steady growth in salaries across various roles, particularly in the financial services sector and large private practice firms. Legal professionals can utilize this data to make informed decisions about their career trajectories and salary expectations.

Table 1: Salary Ranges for In-house Legal Roles (Commerce & Industry and Financial Services)

Job TitleJob GroupExperience LevelSalary Range 2022Salary Range 2023
General CounselIn-house – Commerce & Industry15+ YearsR2.5m+R2.5m+
Head of LegalIn-house – Commerce & Industry10-15 YearsR1.5m – 2.5mR1.5m – 2.5m
Senior Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Commerce & Industry8-10 YearsR1m – 1.5mR1m – 1.5m
Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Commerce & Industry4-7 YearsR700k – 1mR700k – 1m
Junior Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Commerce & Industry1-3 YearsR450k – 700kR450k – 700k
General CounselIn-house – Financial Services15+ YearsR2.5m+R2.5m+
Head of LegalIn-house – Financial Services10-15 YearsR1.5m – 2.5mR1.5m – 2.5m
Senior Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Financial Services8-10 YearsR1m – 1.5mR1m – 1.5m
Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Financial Services4-7 YearsR750k – 1mR750k – 1m
Junior Legal Advisor/CounselIn-house – Financial Services1-3 YearsR500k – 750kR500k – 750k
Caption: Table 1 shows the salary ranges for in-house legal roles in both commerce and industry and financial services sectors in 2022 and 2023.

Table 2: Salary Ranges for Private Practice Legal Roles (Boutique and Large Firms)

Job TitleJob GroupExperience LevelSalary Range 2022Salary Range 2023
Equity Director / Senior DirectorPrivate Practice (Boutique)10+ YearsR1.2m+R1.2m+
Junior Director / Salaried DirectorPrivate Practice (Boutique)8-10 YearsR900k – 1.2mR900k – 1.2m
Senior AssociatePrivate Practice (Boutique)4-7 YearsR600k – 900kR600k – 900k
AssociatePrivate Practice (Boutique)0-3 YearsR300k – 600kR300k – 600k
Equity Director / Senior DirectorPrivate Practice (Large Firm)10+ YearsR2m+R2m+
Junior Director / Salaried DirectorPrivate Practice (Large Firm)8-10 YearsR1.3m – 1.9mR1.3m – 1.9m
Senior AssociatePrivate Practice (Large Firm)4-7 YearsR900k – 1.3mR900k – 1.3m
AssociatePrivate Practice (Large Firm)0-3 YearsR600k – 900kR600k – 900k
Caption: Table 2 displays the salary ranges for private practice legal roles in boutique and large firms for 2022 and 2023.
WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on william@rateweb.co.za

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