Reward in the legal sector

Many lawyers can expect to receive up to £6,000 for introducing new staff to their firm.

According to the HR in Law: Employee Benefits Survey 2009 study by Portus Consulting, 89% of law firms provide financial incentives provided incentives for introducing new employees, representing around £1,000 for support staff. For introducing a professional recruit, 22.2% of firms offered up to £1,000 with many firms offering incentives between £1,000 and £6,000 plus.

The research also revealed that other ‘imaginative’ benefits found in legal reward packages include free fruit, massages, book clubs, long-service awards, on-site GP and physiotherapy services, concert tickets, complementary therapies, and wedding vouchers.

Almost all lawyers (87%) now receive a Blackberry-type device, with more than half (56%) getting a mobile phone.

The most popular voluntary benefits offered at law firms are childcare vouchers (74%) and season ticket loans (50%).

Here’s a run-down of the other findings:

Flexible working

More than two thirds (72%) of firms said they had flexible working arrangements above the statutory requirements for professional staff and 69% of firms for support staff. However, although the majority of firms have up to 20% of their support staff working with flexible arrangements, for professional staff this drops to 10%.


Almost all (98%) of firms have a pension plan in place. These are predominantly group personal pension (GPP) arrangements (67.7%). Defined benefit plans seem to have been laid to rest with no firms having defined benefit schemes still open to new joiners.

The majority of firms match pension contributions for both professional and support staff (60.9% and 55.8% respectively). Where contributions are on a matched basis the typical matched contribution is 5% for both professional and support staff.

Around a third (29%) of firms are currently providing salary sacrifice arrangements for pension for their professional staff and 27% of firms offer salary sacrifice for their support staff.

Private medical insurance

The majority of firms provide and fund private medical insurance (PMI) for at least the individual (for both professional and support staff – 70.7% and 63.1% respectively) and a minority (14.6%) provide it for the individual and partner/spouse and dependent children for professional staff.

A number of firms added they permit family members to be added at the employee’s cost. The employee will thereby benefit from the group discounts available to the firm.

Group risk

Three-quarters (76%) of firms fund income protection for professional staff, with most covering 75% of salary for both professional and support staff. Several firms stated that the payout was capped either in total sum paid or on a monthly basis.

Almost a third of firms insure pension contribution for professional (27%) and support staff (29.1%). Three firms noted that this only covered the employers’ contributions.

Eight out of ten (88%) firms provide life assurance for professional staff and 87% of firms provide life assurance for support staff.

The majority of firms 68% provide cover of four-times salary for professional and support staff. One firm provided nine-times salary for married employees, two firms noted that cover was capped while another firm allowed for the buying and selling of up to two-times salary cover.


The most usual holiday entitlement offered by firms is 25 days, with 85% of firms offering this amount for professional staff and 66% for support staff.

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Dental perks

Only 11% of firms fund dental insurance for both professional and support staff. A number of firms did comment that dental insurance was available on a voluntary basis and/or through their flexible benefits plans. As will be seen in the sector comparison section, dental insurance, perhaps not surprisingly, is most commonly provided by US or global law firms.