Three-quarters of in-house counsel satisfied with work-life balance

But wage differences, lack of diversity: Survey
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 08/15/2012

The legal profession has a higher than average level of satisfaction with its work-life balance, but gaps remain both in gender equality and in ethnic diversity, according to a survey released by recruitment firm the Counsel Network and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA).

Despite 30 per cent reporting increased work hours, 78 per cent of the 738 respondents are somewhat or very satisfied with their work-life balance, which is six per cent higher than in 2010. The amount of satisfaction is greater (88 per cent) among those under the age of 35 and among those who work fewer hours per week.

In-house counsels work an average of 48.2 hours per week, found the survey. Among metropolitan cities, counsel in Montreal work the longest hours (50.5) compared to Vancouver (47.3).

However, when compared against men in the same roles in the profession, women continue to be paid less, though the gap has diminished from 19 per cent in 2009 to 16 per cent in 2012.

"While there is still a long way to go, we are encouraged to see a trend toward diminishing the gap between men's and women's salaries,” said Sameera Sereda, managing partner at the Counsel Network.

This year's survey asked respondents to indicate their ethnicities for the first time. A strong majority (84 per cent) were Caucasian compared to six per cent who are South Asian, three per cent Chinese and two per cent European. The remaining respondents indicated Canadian, Filipino, Black, West Asian, Arab and Latin American/Hispanic as their ethnicity. None of the respondents identified themselves as First Nations and only one per cent identified as Métis.

"The legal profession has identified the need to build its diversity and this survey backs up that need with statistics," said Sereda.

Wages vary significantly by region, industry

On average, in-house counsel earn about $155,000 per year. This represents an increase of $4,500 over 2010. However, wages in Alberta exceed the average by six per cent, followed by Ontario, at five per cent. Atlantic and Central Canada lag the rest of the nation, with salaries 23 per cent and 20 per cent below the national average.

Compensation also varies significantly by industry, with the IT sector paying the highest salaries ($184,000) followed closely by oil and gas ($178,000) and resources/mining/forestry ($171,000). Telecom and government/Crown corporations pay the lowest salaries at $134,000 and $130,000 respectively, found the survey.

Salaries of in-house counsel in both the IT and manufacturing/automotive/aerospace industries increased by more than $18,000 in the past two years, while salaries in government, Crown corporations and the telecommunications sector fell by $7,000 over the same period

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