Women dominate the New Zealand legal profession but are significantly under-represented in partner ranks and in law firm board rooms, according to the 2016 ALPMA/McLeod Duminy NZ Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey results.
69 New Zealand law firms from across the country, employing 2,033 people, participated in the research conducted in April by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA), supported by McLeod Duminy Careers.
Glass ceiling a real issue for female lawyers
“Clearly, the glass ceiling is a real issue for female lawyers in the NZ legal profession,” said Ms Sheryll Carey, ALPMA NZ Chair and General Manager at Lowndes Jordan.
“The figures speak for themselves. While 64 percent of lawyers at respondent NZ law firms are women, only 29 percent of partners at these firms are women and only 24 percent of law firm board members are women,” she said.
“This issue is not just isolated to New Zealand firms—ALPMA’s results for female representation in the partnership ranks and board room at Australian law firms were strikingly similar,” she said.
Women dominate management roles (67 percent overall, dropping to 54 percent at large law firms) and hold 87 percent of all administrative roles at law firms.
“Maintaining women in the law in the long term is a very real problem and many perceive partnership as not complementary to a family lifestyle,” Ms Carey said.
“If you are a female lawyer, your best chance of achieving partnership is with a small or medium sized firm, where more than a third of partners are women (39 percent and 35 percent respectively), and not a large firm, where under 20 percent of partners are women,” she said.
Show me the money
“If you can secure a partnership at a small firm, the good news is that equity and managing partners are typically best paid at small law firms, although salaried partners are best paid at large law firms,” Ms Carey said.
Large law firms pay the highest salaries for lawyers for eight of the 15 legal roles tracked in the survey. Recent graduates with up to three years post qualification experience are best paid in Wellington, while those with more experience are best paid in Auckland.
Most lawyers and staff working at New Zealand law firms can expect a pay rise above the rate of CPI this year (64 percent), while a further 23 percent can expect a pay increases equal to CPI. 12 percent of firms (all small firms) indicated that they would be implementing pay increases below CPI or a wage freeze.
Gender Pay Gap
While a third of respondents believe that there is a gender pay gap in the NZ legal industry (rising to half of all respondents from large firms), few think this is a problem at their firm.
“The way to test these views and determine the size of this issue is to conduct a gender pay gap analysis, yet only 15 percent of firms overall (rising to 50 percent of large firms and 21 percent of medium sized firms) are planning on undertaking this analysis in the next 12 months,” Ms Carey said.
Only 23 percent of respondent firms have a formal diversity and inclusion program, rising to 50% for large firms.
“Where firms do have a program in place, policies typically covers work/life flexibility and gender equality. Disappointingly, less than a third of these programs include cultural diversity, LGBT, disability, multi-faith, generational or indigenous policies.”
It’s hard to find quality staff
Finding quality staff remains the number one HR challenge for New Zealand law firms in 2016, followed by managing poor performance and employee engagement/retention.
“Despite struggling to find the right people, law firms continue to respond to the issue tactically and reactively, by advertising vacancies when an opportunity arises, rather than taking a more strategic approach to recruitment,” Ms Kirsty Spears, Legal Recruitment Consultant at McLeod Duminy said.
“There are also a number of missed opportunities that law firms should consider in terms of benefits packages benefits to attract staff.”
“For example, only six percent of firms offer social responsibility programs, yet these are very appealing for Generation Y and Z staff, who often look for more meaning than firm profitability from their work.”
“Similarly, only 56 percent of firms offer in-house legal services to staff. This is a highly valued benefit that doesn’t cost a great deal, so I would encourage firms to consider adding this to their staff entitlements,” Ms Spears said.
Comprehensive, independent information on salaries, benefits and bonuses
The 2016 ALPMA/McLeod Duminy New Zealand Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey report is the most comprehensive, independent report on salaries for all roles at New Zealand law firms. This is the second year the research has been conducted in New Zealand.
69 firms from across New Zealand provided comprehensive information about salaries, benefits and bonuses they pay for lawyers, management and administrative staff, and insight into the critical HR issues and challenges facing their firms.
The report shows the highest and lowest salary paid and the ‘typical’ salary paid for 62 roles at law firms. Salaries for each role are also broken down by size of firm and by location, allowing companies to benchmark their remuneration strategy for each role with similar firms.
Other information provided in the report includes anticipated salary movements, recruitment plans, employment benefits, bonuses and staff employment arrangements. This year, the survey was extended to include questions about gender for roles and gender pay gap perceptions.
The 2016 ALPMA/McLeod Duminy New Zealand Legal Industry Salary & HR Issues Survey report is provided free of charge to all participating firms. Non-participating firms can purchase a copy online for $A550 (ALPMA members) or $A2,200 (non-members) from the ALPMA website. Data was collected in April, 2016.
The Australasian Legal Practice Management Association, (ALPMA), is the peak body representing managers and lawyers with a legal practice management role. ALPMA provides an authoritative voice on issues relevant to legal practice management. Members of ALPMA provide professional management services to legal practices in areas of financial management, strategic management, technology, human resources, facilities and operational management, marketing and information services and technology. ALPMA set up its NZ operation in 2014, and now boasts more than 100 New Zealand law firms as members. For more information visit http://www.alpmanz.co.nz/
About McLeod Duminy
McLeod Duminy are specialist, legal recruiters based in Auckland and will be celebrating their third birthday this month. We enjoy travelling and work with all sized firms across New Zealand. We know that these days our clients are able to source candidates from many of the same avenues as us, and so we have to delve a little deeper into the market through a combination of technology and good old -fashioned networking. For more information, please visit http://mcleodduminy.co.nz/