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Salaries to rise in legal sector

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The Affiliates, a staffing service specializing in highly skilled legal professionals, has released its 1999 Salary Guide, reporting that average starting salaries for legal support professionals will increase 6.1 percent in 1999.

The guide reflects the heightened demand for skilled and experienced legal personnel at all levels, according to a news release from The Affiliates.

The salary survey is based on research and regional employment data gathered from The Affiliates' locations in major markets throughout the United States. The Affiliates is a division of Robert Half International Inc.

"As part of ongoing efforts to enhance productivity, operational efficiency and client service, law firms and legal departments are awarding greater responsibilities to support professionals," said Kathleen Call, executive director of The Affiliates, in the release.

"This holds particularly true for legal secretaries, who are receiving higher compensation along with benefits, such as signing bonuses and profit sharing," she added.

Legal secretaries will receive an average 7.3 percent increase in starting salaries for 1999.

Average starting salaries for junior legal secretaries (those with one to two years of experience) will rise 10.8 percent to the range of $26,750 to $32,250, the largest increase for any single job classification in The Affiliates 1999 Salary Guide.

"These projected compensation gains reflect not only exceptionally strong demand for qualified legal secretaries, but also legal management's willingness to elevate starting salary levels to attract and retain individuals with growth potential," Call said.

However, Call added that despite today's demand for legal support staff, firms remain uncompromising in their job requirements.

"Advanced proficiency with general office applications word processing, database, etc. as well as skills with software tailored to the legal field are highly sought after," she said.

"Superior administrative talents and industry expertise are also required by most firms. Managers are reluctant to hire professionals who do not possess the ability to produce immediate results," Call added.

Among other key findings in The Affiliates 1999 Salary Guide:

?Legal secretaries with more than three years of experience will see average starting salaries increase 5.5 percent, to the ranges of $32,750 to $39,000 (for professionals with up to six years' experience) and $39,750 to $46,750 (for those with seven or more years in the legal field).

?Starting salaries for paralegals will rise an average of 5.6 percent. Within this category, case clerks with up to two years of experience will find their starting salaries in the range of $26,750 to $29,250, up 9.3 percent from 1998.

?Legal receptionists will see starting compensation in the range of $21,750 to $27,250 in 1999, an 8.3 percent gain over 1998, the release stated.

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