4 Things to Do When Asking for a Pay Rise in a Law Firm in 2020

Posted on 4/6/2020 by Paula Pawlowska

80% of solicitors said that more money will be important to them in 2020

At Realm, we believe that annual appraisals are redundant (we ditched ours in 2018) and if you want a pay rise, we will encourage you to take the initiative to ask for one. In fact, if your only reason for looking for a new job is more money, it's imperative you speak with your line manager first - because 6 out of 10 times if you hand in your resignation, you will get counteroffered. 

Here are four things you need to do when asking for a pay rise in a law firm in 2020: 

1. Assess your value 

You must get an understanding of how crucial your position is in the business and how easily replaceable you might be - this is something we can help with as we know our markets inside out. However, the core things to take into consideration are: 

  • Your billings - are you consistently hitting your targets? Exceeding them? If not, is it because of the lack of work and how can you address it?  
  • Management - does your role extend beyond fee-earning? Do you head up a team or do you carry out managerial duties without special recognition?
  • Training - do you provide any supervision to junior members of staff, i.e. trainees and paralegals?
  • Work generated / Cross referrals - What are the sources of your work? What percentage of your work do you self-generate? Quantify it. The more clients that come to the firm for you and you alone, the more bargaining power you will have.
  • Presence in the market - Are you active on Linkedin, Twitter or are you a keen networker? How much of a brand ambassador are you to your firm?

2. Pick your timing

Timing is everything. Therefore, if you're planning to ask for a meeting to discuss your pay rise, think strategically. According to a 2011 study of judges, we are likely to be more lenient and consider matters at hand more positively either during our first couple of meetings in the morning or straight after lunch!

3. Come prepared

You must bring all the necessary evidence to back up your claims that will substantiate your request for a pay increase. You should:

  • Know what the market rate is (we can help with that)
  • Have a full breakdown of your billings at hand  
  • Put together a document of all the duties you carry out day to day, highlighting anything that goes beyond your standard job description

4. Be realistic

Our 2020 survey has shown that salaries are not going to be used as the main bargaining power at law firms. 

Therefore, when asking for a payrise, set realistic goals. It is common for firms to increase salaries in line with the inflation rate. However, it is sporadic for a significant pay rise to be offered. £1/3k is sensible. £4-6k is very attractive. £7k? Only realistic if you're moving to a large, city-centre firm. 

There's going to be a significantly more focus on soft benefits, including home working and learning & development in the years to come. Therefore it might be useful to use our priorities tool to figure out what's really important to you because often a better work/life balance is more attainable than a pay rise. Download our priorities scorecard here. 

Want to discuss? 

At Realm, we'll work closely with you to develop your career, providing advice and guidance to help you get to where you want to be.

For a confidential chat, get in touch with us today. Call our legal recruitment consultants on 03300 245 606 or visit our website to see our latest legal vacancies in private client, personal injury, property and family law.

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