The Cooper Fitch Salary Guide for Legal represents the predicted market-rate salary ranges for new recruits across the UAE for 2020.
Market rate salary ranges in the UAE’s legal sector were flat in 2019 and are expected to remain so in 2020 with 0% increase, reflecting subdued growth in the industry at present.
There has been an uplift in organisations allocating additional efforts in reducing their external counsel costs by investing in their internal Counsel teams. Investments in growing in-house legal teams are based on the cost of legal advice in the UAE, which has become more streamlined and less inflated in recent years with regulatory changes to the country’s legal system.
Over the past year, there has been an uptick in legal dispute work in the UAE, as firms seek to preserve cash flow at the expense of protecting business relationships. In transactional law, momentum continues, but the deal flow in other markets such as Saudi Arabia, which is implementing its Vision 2030 economic diversification roadmap and working to entice more global inward investment, is busier, our experts note.
Dubai remains the UAE’s hub for international law firms, while in Abu Dhabi there has been an increase in private practice professionals working in-house within government departments and corporates.
For legal professionals seeking new roles, the main drivers are lack of opportunity for promotion in their own firms, desire for larger remuneration packages, increased mentorship and more consideration of their families and the need for a better work-life balance. Many in-house lawyers for UAE corporates have dealt with challenging market conditions in various industry sectors over the past few years and seek rewarding work within private practice.
The UAE remains the top source market for recruitment of legal candidates within the country, especially for in-house positions, while the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand remain the most popular source markets for private practice firms. The GCC and Levant, Lebanon and Jordan especially, and Egypt, are other popular source markets and this is expected to continue in 2020.
To retain and attract talented legal professionals, businesses must offer clear career progression and support, a flexible working environment and constant feedback, this is particularly important for the younger generations. In this regard, firms must respond better to changing market demographics, for example offering new and existing recruits oneon-one mentorship and engagement.
Download the full Legal Salary Guide 2020 here
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