Guaranteed Salary Negotiation Tips for Lawyers

As a lawyer, if you share your anxiety over salary negotiation with someone the least surprising answer will be – come on, lawyers should be good at it. And in a sense, that is true. Negotiating is a huge part of lawyers’ job. But as any of us, lawyers, also worry about salary negotiation – no matter whether landing the first job or jumping to another law firm. Here are five guaranteed tips for you to land a salary negotiation like a pro.

Do your research

The employer is likely to ask about your expectations. So, what you have to do first is to research the average annual salary for the position you are applying. There is this online tool called PayScale it can help you with calculations for your niche based on a number of criteria that you put in. Since answers on the web are not always trustworthy and satisfactory simply ask someone you know in the same practice area. In short – take advantage of all resources at hand. Because you want to be as realistic as possible.

Determine your motives

First, set it out for yourself. Second, clearly communicate those to the potential employer.

Is it the cash flow, the status or the flexible working hours that attract you most? Understand what you need and let it become the core of your salary negotiation strategy. This means having your facts straight. If the potential employer sees that you know how to support your claims and suggestions, you are likely to leave a positive impression. But if you are unable to explain, that will raise some eyebrows. Simply asking questions without a solid base is not going to work, especially when you are a lawyer.

Chose the right time

This tip is for lawyers who wish to switch firms. Make the move when you are doing well at your current law firm. If the potential employer sees your excellent experience in the recent years, they are likely to see you as a promising addition that will guarantee success. While if your practice is on a decline, securing the best salary deal will be way harder.

As a side tip, you can add a bit of pathos to the negotiation saying that taking up the new job would mean leaving some bonus at the previous workplace. That’s a trick that proves worthy most of the time.

Understand what you are being offered

Which equals being familiar with the financial structure of the firm you are applying to. Will you be working on partnership terms or are you joining a professional corporation? Because tax implication and the compensation are going to vary based on that. It might happen that the firm will offer lower compensation but as a partner, you will make much more.

Moreover, it the initial offer is low, do not end the negotiations right away. Understand how you can compensate a low salary. Maybe a company car or a longer vacation time? Understand what perks you want most and see if the employer is willing to provide those.

Know your worth

Show what an awesome lawyer you are. Be prepared to list your key strengths and increase your chances of a higher salary. Tell the employer about:

  • Your years of experience in your practice area
  • The number of clients you brought to the firm
  • How much money the company saved thanks to your contributions to its legal department

If you’re fresh out of law school, then you should rightly fit your academic skills and achievements into salary negotiation.

Ask to the point

In order to advance the negotiations in the most beneficial way. Ask the employer based on what factors did they determine the initial offer. This will help you understand their motives and preferences. It will bring you to the same page where you can openly discuss what proper compensation means for both of you.

Also, do not forget to ask about the bonus structure. Are there any annual bonuses? And if yes, how those are determined.

Be patient

Remember you can always start low and then go high! You can agree to a compensation that does not satisfy you fully but if the work you do satisfies both parties the numbers will rise. If you agree to a lower deal, you can negotiate for your compensation to be re-evaluated sooner than other attorneys’. This will show your determination. With all the numbers defined beforehand, the outcome is most likely to leave both parties happy.

Money last

During salary, negotiation do not focus all your effort on the financial aspect. Rather think about what the job can offer you professionally and personally. Will it polish your skills like no other? Or maybe it will make you go through a type of experience you need right now. Especially if you are just starting, remember that you still need to build a resume and a professional network. Always consider the bigger picture.

Hopefully, you now have a clearer negotiation strategy in mind. Because following these tips will help you stay confident and negotiate like a real lawyer!


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