Keeping on Top of Employment Trends

  • April 01, 2018
  • Caroline Nevin

Two essential CBA surveys that help

One of the great things about technology is that it allows for easy gathering of large quantities of information through surveys. The CBA looks at every opportunity available to bring the best information and analysis to our members, because we know that in a world where information is widely available, analysis and insight are what make the difference. We know that lawyers expect their CBA membership to give them an edge in staying on top of new trends, and we continuously invest in delivering.

For many years, CBABC has partnered with the BC Legal Management Association and Western Management Consultants to produce the only survey of its kind in BC – an amazing compendium of data about what law firms pay ALL of their support staff positions, including bonuses; benefits offerings; articling and summer student compensation; chargeout rates for lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants; and billing targets for paralegals in various practice areas. There’s nothing else like it, and we make sure our members directly benefit from this valuable information. Staying on top of what’s happening in the marketplace is essential for staying competitive as an employer. Click here to order the Support Staff Compensation and Charge-Out Surveys.

The second important survey that the CBA partners on is The Counsel Network/Canadian Corporate Counsel Association In-House Counsel Compensation & Career Survey. If you are in-house counsel, or managing an in-house or private sector law firm, this may honestly be the most important document you read this year.

The first thing you need to know is that the in-house counsel sector is growing faster than any other right now, which means that legal departments are the employer of choice for more lawyers than ever before. The average private sector tenure of a new in-house counsel is now 3.2 years, an amazing decrease from 4.9 years only six years ago. This means the competition for young associates is more intense than ever.

One of the big insights in this survey is its advice for private sector firms who want to hang on to their associates and seriously compete with an attractive in-house counsel competitor. While compensation is by far and away the most important factor in considering a move, your lawyers are more likely to discount that salary difference if you have a good corporate culture. A 20% increase in salary is a highly likely departure, but if you have a good culture and there’s only a 10% difference in salary, a lawyer is more likely to stay. Pay attention.

BC is finally at the average national salary for in-house counsel at $163K. Ontario and Alberta still remain ahead of us, but every other province is below. The average salary for a Legal Counsel position in BC is $126K and the base salary for a General Counsel executive position is $229.5K. The biggest national change is in bonuses. Only two years ago, just 60% of respondents reported receiving them; in 2018, it’s jumped to 83%.

Gender remains a significant, undeniable factor in career compensation. Women are paid less at every job level, with the male average salary set at $173K compared to $154K for females. The difference is especially apparent at the higher levels, where 26% of men earn $200K or more, compared to 15% of women. On the (slightly) good news front, the average salary gap for women has decreased from 15% to 11% overall. In 2018, after years of more women entering the profession than men, this continued disparity seems bizarre. (Note: If you are or know of an employer who is working to eliminate that gap, I look forward to hearing and sharing that story!)

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Caroline Nevin
cnevin@cbabc.org