Law firms planning raises, bonuses this year: survey

The need to retain top talent and the continued economic recovery mean law firms are predicting a generous year for employees, according to a new survey.

The survey by Robert Half Legal shows that 79 per cent of lawyers polled said their firms or corporate legal departments are planning on pay raises and bonuses for their associates. A further 15 per cent don’t expect to boost compensation while seven per cent of respondents didn’t know or didn’t answer.

The poll included responses from more than 150 lawyers at big law firms and corporations in Canada. It comes on a day when new economic data revealed Canada’s gross domestic product grew at a brisk annualized rate of 3.9 per cent during the first quarter of 2011.

As a result, Anne Edmonds, Canadian regional manager of Robert Half Legal, said law firms are increasingly dealing with the need to keep their top talent.

“Although many law firms and legal departments were forced to reduce staff and freeze salaries in the past few years, retention of top performers definitely remains a priority, especially as the economy recovers,” she said. “Employers in the legal field are increasingly strengthening their retention programs, including offering raises and bonuses, before employees consider other opportunities.”

But keeping good staff also involves looking at other ways of making employees happy, Edmonds noted. “For those companies with smaller budgets, other non-monetary incentives such as telecommuting, additional time off, and flexible scheduling remain great options to reward hardworking staff.”

Even with the positive outlook for both the legal field and the economy in general, concerns about Canada’s prospects linger. Economists expect growth to slow from the healthy pace in the first quarter, especially as debt-burdened consumers retrench from the spending levels that largely drove the recovery in the first place.

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