Demand for in-house positions has led to more pay freezes and overall below-inflation salary rises, according to research published today by Income Data Services (IDS).

It shows that almost a quarter of in-house lawyers experienced pay freezes in the past 12 months, up from 10% last year. 

Around 30% of employers froze basic salaries for their heads of legal, up from 13% in 2012.  

Of the 83 companies surveyed, the average salary for heads of legal increased by 2.3% to £138,000. 

Average deputy general counsels’ salaries rose 2.2% to £138,000, with senior legal advisers’ pay growing 2.2% to £95,450, and solicitors’ salaries increasing by 2.5% to £47,261.

This is the third year that in-house lawyers have had below-inflation salary rises, according to the research.

Nasreen Rahman, assistant editor at IDS, said the in-house sector is an employers’ market. ‘With a couple of exceptions, companies tell us that recruiting suitably qualified in-house lawyers is not a major headache at the moment,’ she said.

Bonuses varied by seniority, from an average of £26,825 for heads of legal to £3,318 for solicitors.

Separate research from Huron Legal found companies are increasingly looking at ways to control the fixed costs of in-house legal departments. 

Joy Saphla, managing director at Huron Legal, said: ‘A in trend in the UK and EMEA is the focus on [measuring] the work being done internally, and the focus on the workload.’

Employment costs are among some of the areas of focus, she said.