Pay is not everything in the law industry according to a new survey.
Data from Legal Personnel's salary survey of 88 law firms found pay for almost every role in the legal sector was higher in Auckland compared with other areas.
For solicitors, salaries in Auckland were on average 7.2 per cent higher than Waikato and Bay of Plenty firms.
Legal executives and legal secretaries in Auckland earned 10.5 per cent more than their Waikato and Bay of Plenty counterparts.
Legal Personnel's remuneration specialist Jarrod Moyle said the regions had lifestyle benefits to compensate for earning less, and housing was cheaper and commuting usually easier.
"What we've ascertained from this survey is that pay is not everything. But it's important for all firms to get remuneration right to ensure job satisfaction, which ultimately impacts on the business' ongoing stability," Moyle said.
"It is something we hear from candidates - they're often looking for change, whether it's out of Auckland or into a different firm because they're wanting a better quality of life and wanting that flexibility whether that's flexible hours or doing part time work."
Legal firms in the regions were also much more likely to offer work benefits such as free or discounted legal work, course fees, mobile phones and parking.
The survey showed almost three quarters of firms in Waikato and Bay of Plenty offered flexible work hours for solicitors compared with just 41 per cent of Auckland firms.
Support staff were also more likely to receive benefits with almost three quarters of firms providing free carparks. In comparison less than half of Auckland firms offered this.
Opportunities for further study were also more available for regional legal teams with 65 per cent of Waikato and Bay of Plenty firms paying for courses and relevant studies for staff, compared with just 38 per cent in Auckland.
Moyle said this was likely a contributing factor to the low staff turnover in the regions with 70 per cent of firms saying they had low or no staff turnover compared with less than half of Auckland firms.
"There appears to be a fairly conservative approach to growth and salaries in the legal sector," said Moyle.
Half of all of the legal firms said they weren't planning to hire more solicitors over the next year however and 9 per cent of Waikato and Bay of Plenty firms expected to cut solicitor and support staff numbers. No Auckland firms planned to cut staff.
Moyle said that indicated pressure was coming on to firms in Waikato and the Bay.
"It could be due to competitive costs, pricing or work load drop-off.
"The fact that the pace of the residential housing market has slowed could have significant impact on conveyancing, which forms a key component of the business for many suburban law firms.
"It may not mean they are planning to make staff redundant, but that they are not expecting to replace people who leave."
Moyle said the survey had looked at companies of similar sizes across the country.