Here’s how much money lawyers earn in South Africa

Specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters has published its annual salary survey for 2022, detailing how much lawyers and other legal experts can expect to earn in South Africa over the coming year.

Renewed business confidence following a subdued 2020 has led to increased hiring demands across both the in-house and private practice legal sector, said Nicolas Rainier, Africa legal manager at Robert Walters.

The knock-on effect of pent-up demand and capacity across both international and local markets has led to demand specifically in areas such as corporate M&A, banking and finance and commercial litigation, he said.

“Movement at partner level has reinvigorated private practices, in many cases allowing for team members both fee-earners and support staff to follow suit.

Across in-house, there has been a healthy appetite for hiring as stringent compliance, governance, and regulatory requirements have again led to constant demand in skilled compliance and company professionals, particularly in financial services, with one eye on the newly-implemented POPI Act.”

Rainier said that salaries are expected to broadly increase in 2022 – especially at the top-end of the spectrum, as firms and businesses try to retain valuable skills and personnel with lucrative packages.

Legal jobs in South Africa

The most in-demand jobs in South Africa’s legal sector include general counsel, banking and finance and legal advisors. The skillsets that are likely to be most in-demand in 2022 include compliance and regulatory expertise and M&A and financing skills.

Half of the legal professionals surveyed said that they are confident about job opportunities in the sector, while 65% of respondents said that their businesses are giving pay rises in 2022.

Legal professionals are also proving to be highly mobile, with 19% surveyed being open to new job offers – mainly looking for a pay rise or career progression. The average tenure for legal professionals in South Africa sits at just under two years.

The table below outlines the salaries legal minds can expect to earn, based on their job type. These figures exclude bonuses and other incentive payments. Regional variations may also apply depending on location.

In-house – Commerce and Industry 2022 annual salary range
General Counsel R1 000 000  – R3 500 000
Junior Counsel R500 000 – R700 000
Legal Counsel R750 000 – R950 000
Senior Legal Counsel R1 000 000 – R1 400 000
In-house – Financial Services 2022 annual salary range
General Counsel R2 300 000  – R3 500 000
Junior Counsel R400,000 – R650,000
Legal Counsel R650,000 – R950,000
Senior Legal Counsel R900 000 – R1 400 000
Private Practice 2022 annual salary range
Associate R650 000 – R850 000
Newly Qualified R580 000 – R650 000
Partner R1 400 000 – R2 200 000
Senior Associate R850 000 – R1 400 000
Senior Partner R2 000 000 – R3 500 000

Read: South Africa is taking steps to a new universal income grant in 2022 – what to expect

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Here’s how much money lawyers earn in South Africa