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Salary Negotiation Tips

Salary Negotiation Tips

Now, in the current climate, normal strategies may be out of the window and, indeed, I am hearing a number of firms are delaying salary negotiations until the end of 2020. However, whether your firm is going ahead with salary reviews in the coming months or waiting until the end of the year, knowing how to approach a salary review is a useful skill to acquire for the future.

This blog will provide you with a solid strategy to negotiate a fair salary to enable you to feel valued at work. Hopefully you work for a firm that wants to empower you, so the following advice may be redundant, however, as you know, this is certainly not always the case!

Before we delve into an effective strategy, I can safely say the incorrect way to negotiate a salary is to interview at a bunch of firms, obtain a number of offers and then go back to your current firm asking them to match the highest offer.

Whilst this CAN be effective in gaining a pay rise, it completely undermines the partner/lawyer relationship and forms an impression in an employer’s mind that you will be leaving at some point in the future. With trust now evaporated, an unwanted distance can develop, and in 90% of cases you will end up leaving within the next 12 months in any event.

From my experience there are more effective ways to negotiate a pay rise.

The first step is to be fully across your billable hours and your billable targets. If you are at 100% of target or above, you are in a great position to negotiate. That is not to say if you are under 100% you will not be able to secure a pay rise.

Secondly, you should research what is an appropriate salary for a lawyer going up to the next level at your firm. At Montgomery we publish a salary guide in March every year which will provide you with accurate figures. This can be downloaded through our website https://www.montgomeryadvisory.com.au/salary-guide/ or by asking one of our consultants for a copy. Importantly, every firm has their own salary banding, so the upper end of the salary range provided in any guide will not automatically apply. At this point it can be helpful to speak with a trusted recruiter or a senior colleague to get a handle on a realistic figure within your firm.

Once you have locked in a figure based on your PAE level, practice area and style of firm (top-tier, mid-tier, international etc), it is then time to formulate a plan for messaging internally.

You want to provide the partners with a realistic number that is within the ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement).

It is always best, if given the opportunity, to suggest a number $5,000 above the figure you actually think is attainable. Wildly inflated numbers won’t necessarily assist your cause!

Often you will be asked to justify this number. This is a great opportunity to highlight your strong performance both in billings and contribution to the firm. Don’t be shy about putting your best foot forward, because you are only doing yourself a disservice by holding back.

Hopefully, when the firm comes back with a number, you are satisfied and can continue to develop your legal skills in your current firm. If, however, you are unhappy it would be appropriate to put together a list of pros and cons and determine whether it is the right time to “dip your toe in the water”.

A disappointing salary review can be a catalyst for you to re-evaluate you career goals and develop a firm understanding of what you are looking to achieve in the next 2-3 years. Seeking more money at a rival firm may not be the immediate answer, however, if a firm consistently devalues your contribution, it is only a matter of time before you decide to take the plunge and explore opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise consider.








Sam Gray

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