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ICICI legal hikes starting salaries above Rs 9 lakh barrier


ICICI Bank's in-house department, which hired 24 campus graduates this year, has increased the salary package of new joiners to Rs 9.05 lakhs per year. This figure includes all benefits that employees receive but lawyers can choose to be paid the amount in full on a retainer basis after six months with the company.

The new starting salary was a figure that was the "cost-to-company" and included loans, assistance with housing, pensions and other benefits, explained ICICIgeneral counsel Pramod Rao.

"They have an option about six months later to move to being exclusive retainers in which case their package becomes completely payable in cash subject to deduction of applicable taxes," said Rao.

The previous ICICI package was betwen Rs 8.35 and 8.8 lakh according to Legally India's starting salary survey.

In-house lawyers traditionally suspend their Bar Council membership and take up employment with companies and members of the ICICI's in-house department which is called "corporate legal group" get similar benefits to the bank's other employees.

By contrast, most law firm lawyers are employed on a retainer basis by law firms, which means that they can handle their own tax affairs and which could result in higher pay.

Rao said that the retainer option was introduced around three years ago and that the take-up by lawyers had been around 30 per cent within the corporate legal group.

Lawyers under the scheme have a one-time option during their career to opt back to being an ICICI employee.

It is understood that one advantage of being an employee is that senior employee lawyers can be eligible to be granted ESOPs (employee share option schemes) in ICICI.

The revised retainer remuneration of Rs 9.05 lakhs would put ICICI just ahead of Luthra & Luthra's starting remuneration and only slightly less than firms such as Amarchand Mangaldas and AZB & Partners, according to Legally India's salary survey.

It is understood that Luthra & Luthra has budgeted for an increase of its base salaries from Rs 9 lakh per annum, although this is still to be finalised and announced.

Rao also added that ICICI corporate legal group had recruited around 24 students from law schools this year, all of whom are now working at the bank. The new salary also applies to the new joiners although they were originally recruited on the basis of the lower salary.

2010 Indian legal recruiters' basic starting salary, excl. performance-related pay unless indicated
Firm Base remuneration (lakh Rupees)
AZB & Partners (Mumbai) 11.4
S&R Associates 10.8
Trilegal 10.2 (10.8 for 2011)
AZB & Partners (Delhi) 9.8
Amarchand Mangaldas 9.6
J Sagar Associates (JSA) 9.6
9.05 (CTC* convertible to full retainer after six months)
Luthra & Luthra 9 (under review)
Wadia Ghandy 8.4
Talwar Thakore 8.4
Khaitan & Co 7.2 - 8.5
Desai & Diwanji 6 - 8.4
Nishith Desai Associates (NDA) 7.2 (+4.8 retained until third year with firm; CTC figure therefore 12)
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 2010-11) (CTC* incl. bonus for top 10 law schools)
Lakshmikumaran Sridharan 4.8
Crawford Bayley
Kochhar & Co
4.2 - 4.8
Supreme Court judicial clerkships
1.8 - 2.4 (under review)
Source Legally India
*CTC: "cost to company" figure can include other benefits than just base salary.

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