Legal Support - How do benefits compare?

Posted in Latest News on 24 Oct 2023

As well as recruiting for Private Practice, Corporate & Commercial, and In-house Legal roles at Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment, we also recruit for legal support positions.

Recently, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about whether people who work in legal support have the same benefits package as Fee Earners. Our 2023 Salary Survey asked both Fee Earners and legal support staff about benefits, salaries, and how people are looking for new roles, and we thought it was worth sharing how support staff’s benefits are measured against the lawyers they work alongside.

One area we have seen a lot of discussion around is benefits. One of the significant benefits we have seen across legal roles is agile and home working, of which 38% of legal support staff we surveyed had this as a work benefit. This was compared to nearly 50% of legal practice workers with the same benefit. While there is a gap of around 12%, it shows that some work benefits across the legal sector are universal and shared by everyone, regardless of whether they are fee-earning or acting in a support function. The same is true for those who can work from home full-time: 17% of legal practice staff had this option, while for support staff, the statistics were higher at 18%. Another area where benefits were equally shared between branches was sick pay above and beyond statutory, with this being 28% and 29% equally. It’s clear that benefits tied to the working environment are generally commonplace across the market – however, there are some discrepancies in some areas.

One central area is in getting an above statutory level of holidays. For legal practice staff, nearly 50% received above statutory holidays, but this number dropped to just 28% for teams in support roles. Bonuses were another area where there was a discrepancy. 30% of fee-earning staff received a financial bonus, but only 20% of support workers received the same benefit. These bonuses are of course often tied to billing performance, as can additional holidays, so it this is likely to account for the difference. However, these discrepancies can leave support staff feeling demoralised: over 7% of support staff were dissatisfied with their benefits package.

Many people were still satisfied with their benefits (or at the very least neutral to them) but having specific incentives for certain staff members is sure to have an effect. Interestingly, we found those in support roles likelier to be very happy (about 26%, as opposed to 20% for those in legal practice) and less likely to be very unhappy (this was about 8%, as opposed to 9% for those in legal practice.)

A benefit discrepancy may not be seen as a significant issue by people in support roles. Still, there is no guarantee that people will remain like this – we found that 23% were likely to change positions in the next six months, and 40% were undecided. It could be unrelated, but it would be worth watching these statistics to see if they change.

While some benefits are applied universally, there is still a split for some. Whether or not people are happy with this is pretty much down to the individual – but, for the most part, many seem happy with their current benefits.

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