The legal sector is increasingly providing nontraditional benefits, such as flexible work arrangements, paid volunteer time and pet-friendly offices, according to a new report.
The 2019 Salary Guide for Legal Professionals, released Tuesday by alternative legal services provider and consultancy Special Counsel, found that more than 50 percent of respondents from medium and large firms and in-house departments were offered some form of flexible work arrangement in 2018. About the same number, 49.6 percent, of law firms reported having paid maternity and paternity leave, compared to 35 percent of in-house departments also offering paid leave. Forty percent of in-house departments offer either an on-site gym or a wellness benefit.
“We’re seeing employers think outside the box with the types of benefits they offer, and it’s paying off. Law firms and legal departments who are putting a larger focus on creative packages and nontraditional perks are able to attract strong candidates and differentiate themselves from competitors,” said Amanda Ellis, senior vice president of Special Counsel, in a statement. “Today’s top talent are looking at compensation and bonuses as a baseline but are ultimately being swayed by the full experience a company can offer.”
The report frames the use of expanded benefits and the high level of total compensation as a reflection of the tight legal market. While strong through most of 2018, the legal sector had 100 fewer jobs in November than it did the previous year.
Other findings from the report show that respondents at in-house legal departments are being offered paid volunteer time (19.6 percent), on-site or paid meals (18 percent), and on-site or emergency child care (13 percent).
Coupled with salaries, attorneys are receiving significant total compensation. The study found that large law firms in 2018 offered an average of $234,556 in total compensation and large in-house legal departments offered an average of $196,358 in total compensation.
Breaking that down by role, a staff attorney will receive an average base salary of $99,012 and an average total compensation of $120,569. On the other hand, an e-discovery attorney will receive an average base salary of $105,867 and an average total compensation of $111,217.
In the C-suite and technology roles, chief information and technology officers had an average base salary of $256,500 and an average total compensation of $271,650. Data privacy and information security analysts had an average base salary of $91,900 and an average total compensation of $100,254.
For lateral hires, excluding Supreme Court clerks, signing bonuses ranged from $1,500 to $50,000. Thirty percent of attorney placements are relocations to another market.
The report is built on more than 6,000 responses from various law firm and in-house legal professionals in 68 cities across the country.