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Local government lawyer salaries rise 3% but senior pay rises sharply

Local government lawyers’ salaries rose by 3% last year, in-line with the national average, the number of vacancies fell slightly but senior lawyer pay showed strong growth in 2019, new research from Local Government Lawyer has found.

The figures, based on over 1200 permanent local authority legal jobs posted to Local Government Lawyer’s dedicated jobs board Public Law Jobs (www.publiclawjobs.co.uk) over the past two years, showed that qualified lawyer salaries were on average advertised at between £38,868 and £44,644 in 2019, a 3% rise on 2018 figures.

However, advertised salaries for principal lawyers were 6% higher than the previous year and head of legal salaries were 9% up on 2018. This reflects one of the findings of the Legal Department of the Future survey (www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/legal-dept-of-the-future), published in November 2019, that demand for more senior lawyers is increasing as many departments’ legal work becomes more complex.
The survey also reported that 'market supplements' or similar additional payments advertised with junior qualified roles saw a considerable drop. Eight per cent of junior qualified positions included a market supplement in 2019, down from to 13% in 2018. The proportion of ‘senior lawyer’ roles which included an additional payment also fell to 4% from 8%.

While market supplements appear to have dropped across the board, the survey suggests that in some practice areas monetary supplements are still being relied upon to attract talent. For instance, the rate at which market supplements were included in Childcare Lawyer advertisements remained the same in 2019, at 9%. Education roles also kept hold of their supplements and Planning Lawyers only saw a reduction from 9% in 2018 to 8% last year.

More generally, the number of jobs advertised fell from 636 in 2018 to 583 in 2019, However this number is still some way ahead of 2017, when there were 480 roles on Public Law Jobs, and it is likely to grow again in 2020 and beyond as department workloads continue to rise with the Legal Department of the Future survey finding that 87% of local authority departments expect their workloads to increase in the foreseeable future.

In the highest paid region (London) qualified lawyers enjoyed salaries of between £40,615 and £46,803, while qualified lawyers in the South-West, the lowest paid region in 2019, saw average salaries at between £34,412 and £41,256, a gap of 16% (down from 20% in 2018).

To read the full survey, please click on the following link: www.publiclawjobs.co.uk/files/userfiles/files/Local%20Government%20Lawyer%20Salary%20Survey%202019.pdf

 Adam Carey