Tuesday 24 April 2018

Pressure grows on Law Society to reveal salaries

Director general Ken Murphy reportedly earns €400k a year to head up the solicitors’ body

Refusal: Law Society chief Ken Murphy
Refusal: Law Society chief Ken Murphy
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

The head of the Law Society — reportedly on a €400,000 annual salary — has refused to change his employment contract, which would make his controversial pay deal public.

The refusal comes amid renewed calls for full disclosure of director general Ken Murphy’s pay — believed to be one of the most generous remuneration packages for any voluntary body chief in Ireland.

In response to questions from the Sunday Independent, the society insisted it could not reveal the pay of individual staff members due to “contractual and statutory” obligations to its employees.

But the spokesperson also said it would not take steps to remove confidentiality clauses from employment contracts.

She also confirmed Ken Murphy was not willing to voluntarily change the confidential nature of his contract.

The annual accounts do not disclose Mr Murphy’s salary.

The organisation has consistently cited legal reasons for its decision to keep the income of its staff private.

However, in 2013, on the back of complaints from members, whose subscriptions fund the body, a review of salaries of senior executives was carried out by consultancy firm Towers Watson Ireland.

The society insisted it was a “routine” exercise to determine if salaries were in line with similar organisations in other countries.

Exercises of this nature had also been carried out in 2005 and 2008.

The report was released to society members — but salary levels were never made public.

Brendan Donnelly, who is president of the Mayo Solicitors’ Bar Association, called for Mr Murphy to confirm his pay.

“It has never been disclosed. My personal view is that he should disclose his salary to the members.

“Subscription money is being used to remunerate staff, so realistically we should know what they’re earning.”

He said this issue has been “a fairly heavy topic of conversation” among lawyers.

“A lot of solicitors, particularly country practices, were struggling, especially between 2009 to 2012,” he added.

The Law Society has an annual turnover of €33m.

It currently has 10,479 members — with 15,196 on the roll of solicitors.

There are some 9,688 solicitors with practising certificates, which cost €2,500 a year.

Sunday Independent

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