Lawyers buck the trend on salaries:The perception that Ireland’s economic collapse has turned out to be a lawyer’s bonanza got a major boost yesterday when Brightwater published its annual salary survey.The general picture was one of cautious optimism and across the board increases of between 2 and 4 per cent in professions such as banking, accountancy, information technology, legal, human resources, office support and sales and marketing services.
Lawyers would seem to have done a little better with Brightwater noting: “In terms of salaries, it  has been a critical year for firms who have been faced with issues concerning the retention of key staff.
“Firms have not been able to put off addressing salary freezes and accordingly we have witnessed salary increases of anything between 5 per cent to 15 per cent where increments have occurred.”
Not surprisingly the majority of “opportunities” have been in funds, commercial litigation, insolvency and regulatory. In a word: Nama.
In the real (non lawyer) Irish economy things remain tough, with rival recruitment firm Hay Group predicting in their annual pay review (also released yesterday) that wage growth in Ireland next year will be zero.
Pay in Europe as a whole will rise by an average 3.3 per cent in they say, led by the Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian economies where employees can expect an increase of 8 to 10 per cent.
Not bad unless you happen to work for a Dublin law firm.Big Pharma isn't always to blame
Nobody denies there is a need for a reasoned debate on the issue of drug costs in Ireland. Regardless of some of the more hysterical figures bandied about, pharmaceutical costs here are clearly at the upper end of the spectrum.
However, in the continuing controversy over health budgets, efforts are being made to present an image of Big Pharma holding a metaphorical gun to the head of a craven Government.
Let’s get the position in focus. Nine of the top 10 pharma companies worldwide have chosen to have a significant presence in Ireland. As a group, they employ close to 25,000 people directly and many more in downstream activity. They are responsible for roughly half our exports – though, as a recent Davy report noted, raw materials for the sector knock a big hole in our import bill as well.
All this hasn’t happened because they like our cute freckles and blue eyes; IDA Ireland has been able to persuade these businesses that Ireland offers a business-friendly environment, with a low and stable rate of corporation tax and an educated population within the European Union.
Critically, another selling point in attracting foreign investment is ease of access to decision makers, including Government ministers.
So what has the pharmaceuticals sector being doing? Apparently little more than any other business sector – lobbying to further or protect its business interests and availing of the very access to ministers that has been a key element of our FDI programme.
And over what issue are they lobbying? Certainly, in recent negotiations that delivered a €400 million saving in the costs of current drugs, they were seeking the best outcome available to them. The net benefit to the State of that deal will be significantly reduced by the cost of new drugs.