Sydney comes out top as new report sheds light on Australian corporate lawyers' salaries, while general counsel learn there's no single standard.
The Mahlab Report 2018 gives insights into the legal profession’s employment, remuneration and market trends. One of the key areas of the report uncovered differing salaries among corporate lawyers, depending on where they live and work, and gives insight into the specifics of general counsel.
Sydney corporate lawyers appeared to come out on top in salary terms, ranging from first year lawyers receiving between $70,000–$90,000 and those with over 10 years’ experience getting between $200,000–$275,000. Perth follows closely behind, with first year corporate lawyers starting at a salary between $70,000-$85,000, and those having over 10 years’ experience receiving between $190,000–$250,000. Third and fourth places go to Brisbane, with respective ranges of $65,000–$85,000 and $180,000–$255,000, and, Melbourne with respective ranges of $62,000–$83,000 and $180,000–$250,000. The lowest paid range goes to Adelaide, with ranges of $62,000–$70,000 and $170,000–$225,000 respectively. The report states salary levels refer to the total package, including benefits, but excludes bonuses and share options, noting ‘salary bands in the corporate market tend to be very broad.’ The report states, ‘an individual’s position within a band will depend on a number of factors including background and experience of the individual, size of the organisation and its legal function, industry sector and level of management responsibility within the role.’
General counsel specifics
Specifically addressing remuneration of general counsel, the report explained there is no single standard for the general counsel role and packages offered for this position will vary. The report stated, ‘while their salary reviews were modest at around 2.6 per cent on average nationally, their bonuses and LTIs can be rewarding but are based on individual and company performance.’ It says several factors influence the remuneration of a general counsel, ‘including the size of the legal team (if any); geographical reach; whether the general counsel is a member of the executive leadership team (ELT) with a direct reporting line to the ceo; industry sector; [and] whether the organisation is publicly listed or not.’ The report adds, ‘some general counsel roles are relatively narrow, solely managing the legal affairs of the company; others may have a broad portfolio of responsibilities including company secretary and corporate governance matters, insurance, risk, compliance, human resources, and/or government and public relations.'