Career Legal’s Salary and Market Survey 2016

Career Legal say that 2016 may already be a year in which only the brave can confidently predict an outcome with certainty – but they can review the past 12 months with clarity and offer you a snapshot of our current market salaries with precision and authority.


Candidate Survey

For the second year running, Career Legal have conducted a survey with their candidates covering:
•    Salary and Bonus
•    Benefits

Over 1,500 candidates completed the questionnaire as part of their registration process and the data was compiled in-house. The questions were answered as follows:

                                                                                                  Yes      No      No Answer
Was your salary reviewed last year?                                 49%    51%    
Did you receive a bonus last year?                                    38%    62%    
Can you work from home?                                                   32%    56%    12%
Would you like to work from home?                                   39%    23%    12%
Do you have a flexible benefits package?                        30%    61%    9%
Would you like a flexible benefits package?                     59%    38%    3%

What is your holiday entitlement?                          Average answer 25 days


What benefits are most relevant to you?        Pension: 31%   Health cover: 26%
What benefits are most important to you?      Health cover: 28%    Pension: 24%
What benefits are least relevant to you?        Gym: 10%          Dental cover: 3%
What benefits are least important to you?      Flexible working: 20%    Gym: 9%


By analysing the results, we can see that confidence levels have definitely improved, with over a third of candidates receiving a bonus and 49% of candidates having their salaries reviewed last year. The average amount of holiday is 25 days per year, with one candidate having 36 days. In regards to benefits, results showed that the most important benefit to candidates is health cover, with 28% of candidates selecting it, and the most relevant is pension, with 31% of candidates choosing it.

Legal Secretaries and PAs

Market Review

There was a positive increase in demand for Legal Secretary and PA recruitment across all levels in 2015, with particular emphasis on the latter half of the year.

Firms are continuing to think ahead by investing in their employees, providing training and in-house mentoring to less experienced staff and enabling them to gain the skills needed for the required level. By firms taking this initiative, it means that positions can become available to candidates with less experience but with the dedication and ambition to progress within their sector. This rising trend gives potential candidates considerably more opportunity to pursue the position that they have always dreamt about.

Strong candidate confidence has been facilitated by improved trading conditions and less talk of redundancies in the legal sector than in previous years. Although some firms have undertaken restructuring projects, resulting in redundancies, the possible threat is still on the decrease for this year.


Although entry level salaries have remained constant, a fairly sharp increase has been observed in salaries offered to candidates in the 1-3 years’ experience range. This area of experience has the greatest consistent demand, making salary offers more competitive and shift beyond the normal wage parameters. Career Legal have recently seen job offers for candidates with as little as 18 months’ experience around the £32/33k mark, which is a significant increase from previous years. The current recruitment levels are at their highest point since 2008, which means that a steady upward pressure is predicted throughout 2016 as well as above-average salary rises well above current UK inflation.

UK Firms 

                                                                                                       Low £    High £
College Leaver                                                                         18,000    24,000
Legal Secretary – 6 to 18 months                                          18,000    32,000
Legal Secretary – 18 to 36 months                                        22,000    38,000
Legal Secretary – Partner Level                                             33,000    40,000
Legal Secretary – Senior/Managing Partner                       35,000    55,000
Float                                                                                             34,000    40,000
Coordinating/Group Secretary                                                38,000    48,000
Secretarial Manager                                                                 46,000    105,000

Moving Forward

Trends expected to remain stable include more experienced or talented candidates receiving multiple job offers and firms losing their preferred candidate if the recruitment process takes longer than a week. It is therefore advisable for firms to take only the essential amount of time required to move from interview to offer stage.

Firms may also start having to look for potential candidates from outside the area of law, seeking out transferable and valuable skills that may be possessed in different career sectors. This would not only increase the candidate search area, but potentially provide an additional benefit for employers by keeping salary inflation at moderate levels.