So you’ve landed your dream job, but what about the salary? Most law firms will attempt to hire the best talent for the lowest price. In this situation, the jobseeker’s role is to get the best salary possible without compromising the job offer. Negotiating salary can be a tricky task to master, so ALB asked a number of legal recruiters for their top tips on how to best negotiate your salary.
Top tips for negotiating a higher salary
- Know the role: Knowing the detail of the role you have been offered and the value you can add to it will place you in a stronger bargaining position. Researching the firm to find out what its strengths, limitations and reputation in the market will also help you determine how flexible to be, and what salary range you should negotiate in.
- Understand market conditions: Researching current market conditions and salary trends gives you a good perspective on what salary range is appropriate and reasonable, for lawyers with the same level of experience and/or working in the same practice areas.
- Expect to negotiate: Law firms expect jobseekers to negotiate salary upwards from the offer price. They will adopt different approaches to assess your level of interest in the role and how negotiable you are, so it’s important to respond to questions carefully.
- Demonstrate good behaviour: The basis of negotiation is mutual respect and understanding. Be calm, professional and in control. Showing the firm that, under pressure, you are effective and cooperative will be in your favour.
- Let the firm make the initial offer: Don’t volunteer or initiate questions about salary unless the firm raises the subject. In situations where nothing is discussed at the interview, the initial offer will be made in the offer letter.
- Negotiate on the initial offer: The initial offer is generally below what the firm is willing and able to pay you. It is always appropriate and reasonable to make a case for a higher salary as long as you keep in mind current market rates and conditions.
- Give a salary range: When asked about your salary expectations, always give a range where your bottom line is moderately higher than what you want. This places you in a good position to negotiate up and will also make you appear more compromising.
- Don’t lie about past salary: A quick reference check can expose the lie and will likely see the firm withdraw its offer.
- Be flexible: Don’t make outright demands as you will come across as aggressive and difficult to work with. Keep in mind that both parties want to achieve a win, so respond positively by thanking them for the offer and suggest the amount you are hoping to receive.
- Be confident: Coming across as though you know that you’re valuable and have a lot to offer the firm will help to persuade the firm to share the same view. Firms will value lawyers who value themselves.
- Stay strong: If the firm is pushing for a figure lower than your bottom bargaining price or the market average, don’t back down if you know you’re worth more. By accepting an offer less than what you’re worth, you will put yourself in a position to be undervalued as long as you stay with that firm.