JLU: Junior Lawyers' Union

Asserting the rights of junior lawyers, who have much more power than they realise.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lawyers as mushrooms: what junior lawyers are paid

I once heard a partner complain that a particular senior associate running a large transaction was "treating us like mushrooms". Confused, the other junior lawyer present and I glanced at each other, before hesitantly asking the partner to clarify what he meant.
"She's keeping us in the dark and feeding us shit," he barked back.

On the question of pay, law firms have adopted a practice of treating its junior lawyers like mushrooms. A term of our employment contracts, of which we are repeatedly reminded, is that we keep our salaries confidential.

The law firms themselves, meanwhile, know not only what their employees are being paid - but also what other firms are paying. Firms have for years now jointly commissioned a leading research organisation to provide them with a formal report on the matter. As an eminent Trade Practices partner once half-joked, "Technically, we make enough noises and are sufficiently aware of what the others pay to be considered to be acting in concert."

So the law firms know what the others are paying and could be said to be engaging in anti-competitive behaviour in order to ensure salaries don't get out of hand. Yet these same law firms attempt to keep junior lawyers in the dark by insisting that they do not discuss their salaries with others.

The JLU objects to the cloak of secrecy that surrounds lawyers' pay. While the JLU is not interested in knowing what you, as an individual lawyer, are being paid, we would like to provide our members with this useful information: what are law firms paying its junior lawyers?

Please email juniorlawyersunion@gmail.com with any information you may have. It will, of course, be treated anonymously. Alternatively, feel free to leave an anonymous comment on this post with information. We aim to reveal what lawyers (below the level of senior associate) are being paid for FY2006-7. Where there are bands, we will focus on the average or middle band for each year level.

Once we have collected a reasonable amount of information, we intend to collate and publish it on this site.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think setting up a table with what each firm pays at each level is a fantastic idea. A similar concept is used by a commonly known UK legal website. Once I receive my salary letter (yes, once the firm decides to actually give it to us - which we have been told will be "some time" next month), I'll certaily be sending in my information.

30 June, 2006 12:37  
Blogger Shop Steward said...

That's great.

(Not being told what you're being paid is precisely the "lawyers as mushrooms" approach taken by law firms that led to the title of this post.)

Please ask as many lawyers at as many firms as possible to contribute information to us in order for this to prove to be the worthwhile exercise you feel it can be.

02 July, 2006 18:38  

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