Bonuses paid to senior in-house lawyers in England and Wales are set to add up to nearly £1bn this year, a legal recruiter has said.

The average salary for a lawyer with eight years’ PQE is £112,920, recruiter Laurence Simons said. An additional £44,133 cash bonus means the total package is £157,053 – up 12% from last year’s average total package of £140,185 (which included a basic salary of £108,690).

This would equate to £985m being paid in bonuses, the company said.

The figures are based on Solicitors Regulation Authority statistics and the in-house share of employed solicitors in the Law Society’s Trends in the Solicitors’ Profession Annual Statistics Report 2013.

Chris Cayley, EMEA managing director at Laurence Simons, said: ‘As firms and companies thrive, more of the spoils are being passed on to lawyers as legal teams do battle for leading talent.’

More than half (58%) of the 2,500 lawyers surveyed described themselves as feeling optimistic about this year’s economic outlook, with only 13% believing conditions are likely to worsen over the year.

A quarter of respondents said they will actively be looking for a job in the next 12 months, while a further 46% were open to offers. Most respondents said a 16% rise on their basic salary would be enough to coax them away.

When asked why they left their previous job, more than a quarter (28%) cited better opportunities.