Written on the 25 June 2014 by Laura Daquino
WHILE still tinged with an element of conservatism, a positive air is surrounding the Brisbane legal market in light of this year’s salary review.
Clarissa Rayward (pictured bottom right), director of Brisbane Family Law Centre, agrees with Correa in that it is often only a perception that bigger firms remunerate with bigger pay checks.
“Judging from my own firm, speaking with other Brisbane lawyers, and also reading the salary surveys, I am finding there isn’t as significant of a difference between salaries as people may think,” says Rayward, who operates a boutique practice of five lawyers.
Alex Correa adds to this and says the Brisbane legal market has shown significant signs of improvement overall, particularly in the past six months.
She says the market’s recovery seems to have accelerated during this time, even if some areas are still in a holding pattern.
“It is a far better market now and has improved dramatically in the past six months in particular.
“However, you can’t generalise for all areas of law – some Brisbane firms have experienced really positive growth while others are still finding it quite challenging.
“There is definitely patchiness in the market which is impacting on hiring decisions and I suspect will also impact on salary increases this year.”
The 2014 Hays Legal Salary Guide assessed firms from the entire Australian legal market to report growing demand in banking, finance, technology and in-house law.
On the local front, Correa says there are greater levels of activity in property, construction and infrastructure legal markets – a sign of the times.
“You only need to look at the Brisbane skyline and see the number of cranes to understand why these areas are picking up speed.
“These developments buoy the spirits of lawyers in these fields of work and are driving greater levels of confidence in firms.”
Litigation law is also on the recruitment train in Brisbane, driven by demand from larger insurance companies and interstate firms moving into the region.
“Boutique and medium sized firms are recruiting in this space as insurance companies review panels and tighten operations from a fee point of view.
“Interestingly, we are also seeing some southern firms who have been really strong in insurance moving to Brisbane, such as Lander & Rogers and Wotton + Kearney.
“This is going to mean a change for the insurance legal market in Brisbane and we are already seeing demand from some of those newer players in terms of growth.”
On the contrary, Correa says there is less recruitment happening locally in corporate and commercial law, but suspects this “may not be too far off”.
Considering the inconsistent market, she advises legal practitioners that it is currently invaluable to have a solid understanding of their skillset and what they can offer a firm.
“It’s a market where you want to understand your value as a lawyer otherwise you could fall behind from a remuneration perspective.”