Several newly qualified lawyers in Singapore have sought my views on salaries they are being offered by their employers.
Starting salaries at law firms are probably a good indication of how well the firm is doing in these times. It is also perhaps an indication of how much law firms value the talents they attract.
Over the past months, large law firms have announced the following monthly salaries for their newly qualified lawyers:
a. TSMP - $5,000
b. WongPartnership - $4,800
c. Shook Lin & Bok - $4,300
d. Rajah & Tann - $4,000
e. Allen & Gledhill - $3,800 (and no review till 2010)
f. Khattar Wong - $3,500
Many, whose corporate teams have been hit ominously by the economy, have announced lower salaries than in the past year.
Despite this, small and medium-sized firms, which rely primarily on litigation or other dispute resolution work, are not cutting back their salaries. Most are paying starting salaries of between $4,000 and $4,500, in addition to offering their young lawyers referral bonuses (ranging between 20% - 30%) for business brought into the firm. A few firms have been known to offer less than $3,500.
Young lawyers receiving offers of less than $4,000 should consider alternative careers in public service or other positions in the private sector. They will probably be paid similarly, and will also be in a better position to pursue their respective interests. They should also ask themselves if law is really what they want to do.
I know a few newly qualified lawyers are considering taking a break until the market picks up. Some are going travelling or looking at doing pro-bono legal work in international organisations.
Nevertheless, if you love the law or can see yourself in law till you enter your grave, the salary you receive should be of less concern. The experience you get should be the primary concern.
Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this?