Paralegals – Paid More Downtown Than in the Suburbs

Legal technicians are sought-after employees, but they are not all paid equitably depending on whether they work in a big city or outside major centres. This is what is discovered from a salary table published at the end of 2017.

Drawn up by the Novea recruitment agency and covering the Greater Montreal area, the salary table is based on data collected from 80 firms, all clients of this legal recruitment firm. Although not exhaustive and not scientific, the study nonetheless gives a good idea of the wage disparities of paralegals practising in the city and in the suburbs.

“I have collected information in this salary chart from our clients over the last four years,” says Marie-Ève Altur, director of Novea. “Note that paralegals working in Montreal have a higher salary, often around $5,000 to $10,000 more than their suburban counterparts, taking into account the number of years of experience and various other factors.”

Thus, a paralegal with 2 to 5 years of experience will be able to reach an annual salary of $47,000 in Montreal, while a technician in Longueuil or Repentigny would stagnate around $43,500.

The most spectacular cases recorded by Marie-Ève Altur are at the very least extreme. “I have seen paralegals in Montreal being paid $60,000 more than technicians in exactly the same positions in the Montreal suburbs. It’s not the norm, but this type of gap exists.”

Why these discrepancies?

These disparities are explained “quite simply by the significant presence in Montreal of large international firms, such as Norton Rose Fulbright, which brew bigger business and can offer better salaries to their lawyers and paralegals,” explains Marie-Ève Altur. 

Paralegals who nonetheless have their eye on smaller offices should note that “there is no predetermined salary scale in smaller firms, which opens the door to opportunities to negotiate your salary. Paralegals sometimes end up with better conditions than their colleagues in the big cities.”

This discrepancies are not appealing to many of the sector’s professionals, however. The Canadian Association of Paralegals has recently applied for creation of a professional order that can lead to predetermined and less fluctuating salaries. “It’s a very common school of thought,” explains Mrs Altur, “but in practical terms it could be that a widespread rise in salaries in the suburbs, intended to reach the level of Montreal salaries, may have a negative effect and reduce the number of hires. There is no perfect solution.”

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