Special Counsel Launches 2020 Salary Guide

With a low unemployment rate, the competition for hiring legal talent is fiercer than ever. The legal profession has seen a strong rebound over the last several years; and the low national unemployment rate has triggered new hiring expectations for legal talent. As a result, it’s essential for employers to be fully acquainted with the hiring preferences of potential candidates—from their top “must-have” criteria in a new position, down to their interviewing preferences.

To help navigate these hiring preferences, we’ve collected insights from our placed candidates and industry contacts to help employers attract the top talent with the most up-to-date salary figures and industry insights with our latest Salary Guide.

Our 2020 Salary Guide is a combination of two separate guides historically published by our legal talent division, SCI, and our attorney recruiting division, Parker + Lynch Legal. It not only features data for both in-house corporate legal departments and law firms – revealing legal salaries and data insights for lawyers, in-house counsel, paralegals and other support personnel in both localized markets and across the entire nation – but it includes helpful insights to help navigate the hiring challenges unique to 2020.

Here’s what you can expect to find inside:

What legal talent wants

As a reflection of the times, company perks are getting pretty over-the-top. It’s easy to imagine legal candidates basing their employment decisions on fun features like in-house baristas, at-work massages, and on-site dog parks. But it turns out they have plenty of more meaningful factors on their minds when it comes to deciding on employment. Knowing exactly what top legal talent wants is a pressing problem all firms and in-house legal departments face as they try to secure the best professionals for the their open positions.

So to find out exactly what tops the list for today’s legal professionals, we asked them! And they answered. Here’s what the legal candidates we asked indicated they want in a new job, in order of overall priority:

  1. Work-life balance: To help employees strike a balance that leads to heightened emotional and mental health, and to take advantage of the 20 percent increase in productivity that comes along with it, a work-life balance among legal professionals is the ultimate priority. 
  2. Location: Piggy-backing off of work-life balance, it seems intuitive that proximity to work would be a huge factor for those legal professionals weighing their employment options. Since the legal industry is known to often work extended/odd hours, it makes sense that working close to home would be a perk.  
  3. Compensation: At the end of the day, it’s still about the pay. Which is why we dug a little deeper to find out exactly how much each in-house and corporate legal professional expects to make in 2020. Keep reading below to find out a little more about how we figured that out.
  4. Culture fit/values that align with your own (#1 Overall for Men): While dipping towards the bottom of the overall top 5 list, a favorable cultural fit proved to be the #1 overall priority for male legal professionals we asked. Clearly, a culture fit is a value-driven priority that can’t be ignored.
  5. Diverse and inclusive work environment (#1 Overall for Generation Z): Not only are gender and ethnic diversity clearly linked with profitability, but it looks like it’s a valuable recruiting tool, too. Legal talent know that having a diverse and inclusive workforce can only lead to positive things, and they’re considering an in-house firms’ or a corporate legal departments’ efforts towards an inclusive environment when they’re choosing their employers.

To increase their odds of landing the right talent, firms and businesses are also finding that there are a few others things they can do from a recruitment and hiring perspective. Here a few examples of smart recruitment strategies:

  • Be willing to look outside your local market: While proximity to work is important, candidates are willing to relocate at an astounding rate – and the number of those willing to do so is increasing each year.
  • Tighten up your interview process: Conduct a competitive and efficient interview process because 25% of candidates have dropped out of the process because it took too long. Keep the number of interviews to two or less.

What legal talent expects to be paid

Over 6,000 legal professionals who work in law firms and corporate legal departments in over 60 cities around the country shared their current base salary and total compensation figures with us. Which is how our comprehensive 2020 Salary Guide accurately covers compensation information for all levels of attorney and legal support positions in law firms and corporate legal departments.

To further validate the data, our SCI and Parker + Lynch Legal offices reviewed and compared the data to compensation details for over 2,000 legal professionals our SCI and Parker + Lynch Legal teams placed in the past year to ensure local accuracy.

This comprehensive approach results in more regionally accurate data than the public data that is found in other salary guides. Salaries may be affected by many factors including the organization size, benefits offered, location, educational requirements and local supply/demand trends.

To get a detailed look at the exact salaries, download our 2020 Salary Guide.

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With a rapidly changing industry, it's vital to offer the right compensation and set the right expectation. With our Salary Guide, get detailed job descriptions, industry insights and local salary data to equip your managers with hiring confidence and expertise.

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