While not everyone is motivated by what they earn, according to our 2023 state-of-the-market research, pay is a top priority for lawyers looking for a new opportunity.
However, it’s not always necessary to leave your firm to achieve a pay rise. While in many cases, it pays to move, if your salary has prompted you to consider moving to a new firm, we strongly advise you to speak to your line manager first. In many cases, submitting your resignation could result in a counteroffer.
If you believe you deserve a salary increase, it’s important to take the initiative to ask for one, whether that be in an annual appraisal, performance review or an ad hoc meeting. If you plan on asking for a pay rise, here are four things that you should do.
1. Assess your value
First of all, it’s important to work out how much you should be earning, based on your PQE level, specialist experience or skillset and the type of firm you’re at. At Realm, our consultative recruitment team can help you to work this out, using our specialist market knowledge. Or it might be beneficial for you to check out the latest edition of our Salary Guide for your practice area.
Your market worth will usually be based on the following:
– Your billings: Are you consistently hitting or exceeding your targets? If not, why? Is it due to a lack of work and how can you address it?
– Management: Does your role go beyond fee-earning? Do you lead a team or perform managerial duties without recognition?
– Training: Do you supervise junior team members, such as trainees and paralegals?
– Work generated/Cross referrals: What are the sources of your work? What percentage of your work do you self-generate? The more clients that come to the firm for you, the more bargaining power you will have.
– Presence in the market: Are you active on LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media platforms? Are you a brand ambassador for your firm?
2. Pick the right timing
Timing is everything. Therefore, if you are planning to ask for a meeting to discuss your pay raise, think strategically. According to a study of judges, people tend to be more lenient and positive in the first couple of meetings in the morning or right after lunch, so it might be a good idea to schedule your meeting then.
3. Come prepared
You need to bring all the necessary evidence to back up your claims and substantiate your request for a pay increase. You should:
– Know the market rate (as explained above, we can help you with that!)
– Have a full breakdown of your billings at hand
– Put together a document of all the duties you perform day-to-day, highlighting anything that goes beyond your standard job description
4. Be realistic
While you might have an ideal figure in mind, when asking for a pay rise, be realistic. It is common for firms to increase salaries annually in line with the inflation rate, but it’s rare is rare for a significant pay rise to be offered without a change in role or an increase in responsibility or billing targets. Ordinarily, £1,000-£3,000 is a sensible increase, £4,000-£6,000 is very attractive, and £7,000 is only realistic if you’re moving to a large, city-centre firm from a smaller practice.
We are seeing more firms focus on soft benefits, such as flexible and home working or training opportunities and career development. Therefore, it might be useful to think about what your priorities are other than salary; a better work-life balance is often more achievable than a pay raise.
Are you looking for more guidance?
If you want to discuss your career development, at Realm we’ll work closely with you, providing advice and guidance to help you get where you want to be.
For a confidential chat, get in touch with our specialist legal recruitment team. Call us on 03300 245 606 or visit our website to speak to the consultant most relevant to your practice area.