TotallyLegal Reveals the Inside Scoop of the Legal PA and Secretary Recruitment Market

To bring in 2023, TotallyLegal surveyed over 900 legal professionals to understand the finer details of their working lives, including salaries, bonuses and job satisfaction. The feedback and results revealed an educated and experienced audience covering a range of roles, including the valued Legal PA and Legal Secretary niche.

Following a year of economic turmoil, a resilient profession prevailed, with 58% of the TotallyLegal audience receiving a salary increase in 2023. Demonstrating the demand on employers of a candidate-driven landscape, nearly half (49%) of the TotallyLegal audience took home a bonus. Continuing last year’s upwards trajectory, pay rose across almost all practice areas, including IT and Telecommunications, alongside Regulatory and Compliance, seemingly due to increasingly complex legislation and Brexit-related regulatory changes.

The Legal PA community had much to celebrate. Seventy-one percent of Legal PAs received a pay boost, with 43% receiving an additional bonus. By comparison, 31% of Legal Secretaries received a pay raise in 2023. Naturally, salaries and bonus structures adhere to company type, size and the practice area in which you work. For those working in US law firms, 88% of employees were offered a bonus – Magic/Silver Circle firms and in-house roles followed in second and third place, with 63% and 54% of survey participants, respectively, enjoying financial extras. With over half (51%) of our audience working as part of internal legal teams – from In-House Counsel to Paralegals and Legal PAs – it’s reassuring to see that average earnings are being pushed forwards year on year.

When asked “What’s most important to you in a job,” 26% chose flexible working. With a mere 1% difference between those who selected salary and those prioritising flexibility, the impact of hybrid working on the profession is apparent. Positively, employers responded to the call for fluidity, with 79% of respondents reporting either a hybrid or remote arrangement for 2023. An astonishing 100% of our Legal PA community now conducts a hybrid working model, with 54% of Legal Secretaries following suit. With a soaring 56% difference from 2022 figures, wherein 23% of our audience conducted a hybrid working model, flexibility has truly become the new norm. For legal support staff, namely Legal Secretaries, Legal PAs and those working in-house, hybrid working offers a chance to reset boundaries and schedules. The lack of a physical presence in the office allows for fewer last-minute ad hoc changes and requests and more timely scheduled meetings and appointments.

The legal sector has much to celebrate this year, with the overall gender pay gap dropping from 30% to 13%, fuelled by significant changes within TotallyLegal’s largest audience segment, In-House Counsel. Promisingly, senior roles demonstrated healthy gender representation, with women leading the way in many of the profession’s most lucrative positions. Nonetheless, there’s still a critical issue within gender representation for business support, with 100% of Legal PAs and Legal Secretaries identifying as female. Despite the sector-wide gender pay gap narrowingly significantly, men continue to earn more than females overall.

Across the spectrum, salaries adhered to practice area, firm or company type, and location. 2023 has seen pay raises being granted across most practice areas, with those working in the IT industry boasting an 18% leap in pay from 2022 figures, placing it as the highest-paid sector. The Energy/Environmental (+15%), Intellectual Property (+22%), Healthcare (+28%) and Private Client (+33%) sectors also achieved notable progress in pay levels. In line with bonus structure, US law firms outpaced Magic/Silver Circle and in-house employers. Professionals at US law firms welcomed a 25% salary spike, making them the highest-paid segment.

With regards to location, it’s no surprise that London remains the UK centre for top-tier salaries, with pockets of above-average earnings throughout the capital. East London was the only area to lose traction, notating a 10% dip in pay to £45,357. In Canary Wharf, income shot up 18% to £99,444, helping it retain the crown as the capital’s highest-paying district. 

2023 has brought increased salaries and presented flexible working as the new normal, yet there is still progress to be made. Whether it’s pay, perks, representation or inclusion, firms must explore ways to level the playing field for every legal professional.

Look to TotallyLegal for the latest developments and exclusive insights into the legal recruitment market. Download the full TotallyLegal 2023 salary survey report today.

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