IndusLaw may have been growing leaps and bounds, including by recently breaking into the cozy top-tier capital markets club and having been one of the more aggressive lateral hirers in recent times, but the firm’s starting salary had somewhat lagged behind compared to the highest-paying firms.
The firm has now hiked its fresher lawyer starting salary into the symbolic Rs 1 lakh per month (Rs 12 lah per annum) club, excluding a 10% performance-dependent bonus that is generally paid out in full or thereabouts.
For the last two years of campus recruitments, the salary offered to fresh Indus recruits from college had been Rs 90,000 per month (Rs 10.8 lakh per year), three years ago that was Rs 80,000 (Rs 9.6 lakh per year).
Co-founding partner Suneeth Katarki confirmed the increase and explained: “We’ve been an aggressive hirer the last three to four years. We’ve gone from hiring just five to 10, to 15 [freshers], and last year around 30 people were hired from campus. It has been going up significantly.”
“And we [have been] moving up our payscale even on campus almost every year,” he said, though last year the firm did not increase fresher payscales due to the uncertainty surrounding the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been growing rapidly but growing not just in size, but also grow in quality of work and our branding etc, so we are increasing our payscales.”
Indeed, the move is in part a deliberately strategic one. To the best of our knowledge, IndusLaw is not currently invited to the so-called Day Zero first dib-round of recruitments at most law schools, unlike the traditional grouping of the biggest Marquee Firms, where base pay packages have been hovering at around Rs 12 lakh per year up to Rs 14.4 lakh per year.
But since 2015, there has not been much adjustment of those amounts (even accounting for inflation), in part probably because there is still more supply than demand for jobs at top law firms (Shardul Amarchand for instance in 2017 had offered less than its revised Rs 15-16 lakh pay scale to some recruits).
The only recent revision at the top, was that of Nishith Desai Associates, which late last year went up to Rs 17.4 lakh per year, including a guaranteed bonus of Rs 1.2 lakh.
Indus’ Rs 12 lakh per year figure (even with a bonus potentially taking this to Rs 13.2 lakh) will still be a little below some of the top tier rivals but it might make some campus recruitment committees consider inviting the firm (especially if the firm will continue or increase its requirement of 30 fresh recruits per year).
Pay hike across board
Indus’ fresher pay hike – which, as explained above, has been unusual in the industry – also coincides with a pay rise across the fee-earner spectrum.
When asked for comment, Katarki and co-founding partner Avimukt Dar said in a statement: “We are really grateful for our people who have helped us navigate the uncertainties of the last financial year. We thought it would be an excellent gesture to announce the increments in time, even though the current situation has added lot of uncertainty. We will soon be finalising our Partner increments as well.”
We understand these increments are increments to the pay scales rather than just the routine moving up of a post qualification experience (PQE) level of associates (which had been frozen at a number of firms due to the pandemic but has gradually also been unfrozen).
And while IndusLaw increases its pay scales more or less every year at rates above inflation, according to Katarki, last year the increment had been smaller due to the pandemic.
In part, the increase this year was therefore bigger to make up for it.
Indus bonus structure
Unlike at other firms, Indus’ bonus structure is fairly straightforward.
Most years most fee-earners are understood to be eligible for the full or near the full amount.
The current bonus structure at the firm is:
- at fresher and first-year PQE level up to 10% of annual pay,
- from two to three years of PQE (associate level): up to 20%,
- from four years PQE (senior associate level and above): 30%, and
- beyond 6 years of PQE, at principal associate level, the maximum bonus was: 40%.
Photo by Dr Partha Sarathi Sahana