AZB & Partners, Trilegal, Wadia Ghandy and legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Pangea3 have hiked their basic starting salary packages to as high as Rs 11.4 lakh per year, which makes AZB as the top-paying legal recruiter in Legally India's new law firm salary table.
AZB's Mumbai office has increased its base remuneration from Rs 10.68 lakh to Rs 11.4 lakh per annum ($24,350) for 2009-10 graduates joining the firm, excluding any additional bonus element, giving AZB joiners the best possible basic starting salary package of any Indian law firm.
AZB's Delhi office, which has a different salary structure from Mumbai, is understood to have also increased base fresher salaries to a competitive Rs 9.8 lakh per year.
Meanwhile, Trilegal has hiked its salaries to make the firm the third-highest paying Indian firm, according to Legally India research and associate survey data.
Trilegal has decided in its compensation review in April 2010 to ratchet up its annual salary to Rs 10.2 lakh from its previous figure of around Rs 9 lakh.
Trilegal's partnership has also decided to increase the package offered to 2011 joiners to Rs 10.8 lakh per year.
|2010 Indian legal recruiters' basic starting salary, excl. performance-related pay
|Firm||Base remuneration (Rs lakh)|
|AZB & Partners (Mumbai)||11.4|
|Trilegal||10.2 (10.8 for 2011)|
|AZB & Partners (Delhi)||9.8|
|J Sagar Associates (JSA)||9.6|
|Luthra & Luthra||9 (under review)|
|ICICI Bank||8.35 - 8.8|
|Khaitan & Co||7.2 - 8.5|
|Desai & Diwanji||6 - 8.4|
|Nishith Desai Associates (NDA)||7.2 (+4.8 retained until third year)|
|SAIL||6.6 - 6.8|
|Phoenix Legal||6 - 7.2|
|IFMR||6 - 6.5 [correction]|
|Juriscorp||4.8 - 6|
|Pangea3||4 - 6 (5 - 7 for 2010) (incl. bonus, TBC)|
|Kochhar & Co
||4.2 - 4.8
|Supreme Court judicial clerkships
||1.8 - 2.4 (under review)
All basic Trilegal starting salary packages are eligible to a maximum Rs 2 lakh "performance retainer" bonus element.
Wadia Ghandy too is understood to have significantly increased its basic starting salary package for all joiners to Rs 8.4 lakh per year, up from a more flexible package of between Rs 6 to 8.4 lakh which varied depending on the joiner.
Wadia Ghandy's pay-hike, however, is understood to apply retroactively to all 2010 graduate joiners.
LPO Pangea3 has also decided to increase its salary package to Rs 5 to 7 lakh affecting all future 2010 recruitment, up from its currently offered figure of Rs 4 to 6 lakh. These figures apply only to direct recruitment of "top test performers" from the top 10 campuses and include a performance-related bonus element. [correction - the original article stated that Pangea3 figures were base packages. See comment #69 below for details. -Ed]
Luthra & Luthra too is in the process of revising its starting salary figures, which will be announced in June.
Salary Survey data
Legally India has conducted a survey of salaries across top legal recruiters combining results of last year's Legally India associate satisfaction survey and salary data obtained from a number of top law schools' recruitment committees and interviews with students and associates.
All figures (see table right) have been sent for verification to the law firms or organisations in question although several firms declined to comment or were unavailable for comment.
The top salary paid to freshers, excluding any bonus elements, is AZB Mumbai's newly hiked Rs 11.4 lakh figure, but this is closely followed by five-year old Delhi firm S&R Associates, which pays a basic package of Rs 10.8 lakh per annum to graduates.
Trilegal and AZB Delhi follow next with packages around Rs 10 lakh.
Amarchand and J Sagar Associates both offer a basic salary package of Rs 9.6 lakh per year, excluding bonuses, while Luthra & Luthra freshers will earn Rs 9 lakh per annum.
The in-house sector too pays very competitive salaries, according to our findings, with IFMR and ICICI paying Rs 8.8 lakh and Rs 8.6 lakh to freshers on average.
Law firms Wadia Ghandy, Khaitan & Co, Talwar Thakore, Desai & Diwanji and Nishith Desai Associates pay between Rs 7.2 lakh and Rs 8.5 lakh to fresh graduates.
Khaitan & Co's Mumbai office also operates a bonus scheme whereby fresher's base salaries, which are between Rs 7.2 and 8.5 lakh, can be augmented by performance-based bonuses of an additional 60 per cent at the top end.
Desai & Diwanji too operates an incentive system for freshers, where in addition to the variable quality-dependent base salary of between Rs 6 and 8.4 lakhs and a performance based bonus, associates can earn an additional 2 per cent of their billings and an additional 10 per cent of billings where they have generated the work themselves.
Nishith Desai Associates (NDA) too operates a different salary structure, where the first year salary is technically Rs 12 lakh, although only 7.2 are paid out on a monthly basis. The remainder will get paid out to associates only if they have stayed with the firm for three years.
However, in the second year of NDA associates' career no salary is separately retained with Rs 12 lakh being taken as the base amount for any second-year increases.
NDA is also one of the few firms where lawyers are employees of the partnership rather than being hired on retainer as independent advocates as is the case at most Indian law firms.
Crawford Bayley has a very flexible starting salary structure. While the basic pay is understood to be around Rs 4.8 lakh per year, this is understood to vary widely between departments and in some cases be up to Rs 10.6 lakh per year.
Graduates with jobs as Supreme Court judicial clerks would currently earn the least out of the surveyed legal recruiters with a base package of between Rs 1.8 and 2.4 lakh per year, although it is understood that these figures are currently under revision.
Correction: IFMR's basic starting salary figure was originally stated to be Rs 8.8 lakh. This figure includes all total cost to the company, including fixed, variable, relocation and non-cash benefits. The fixed annual salary for freshers is Rs 6 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh. Many thanks to IFMR for pointing out the error. IFMR recruited two students from NUJS Kolkata, and one each from ILS Pune, Nalsar Hyderabad and NLS Bangalore this year.
The starting salary table is a work-in-progress that will be gradually updated with more firms and starting remuneration figures when Legally India can authoritatively confirm such data. No salary data was published without at least two independent and reliable sources confirming the same figure. Nevertheless some of the figures were only reasonable approximations of the data collected.
We will also use the above figures as a base to analyse and verify other findings from the associate satisfaction survey, further results of which we aim to publish shortly.