Securing Adequate Compensation — Handling a Free-Form Negotiation
As you navigating the hiring process, salary negotiations can put quite a damper on an otherwise exciting process — depending on the employer and their approach to handling negotiations, it may feel rather intimidating to discuss compensation openly. After all, some employers are excellent at setting up the hiring process so as to devalue the attorney’s unique qualities and thereby secure an upper-hand.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re just another cog in the machine!
In today’s bullish market, it’s incredibly important that you push hard to have the employer recognize the true value of your contributions and offer a salary that better reflects your position in then overall legal job market — an effective negotiation can set you up favorably in the future, as it establishes a new baseline on which upcoming compensation will be based.
Ready? Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps you can take to ensure that your compensation properly reflects your value.
Conduct Thorough Research and Self-Evaluation Beforehand
Salary negotiations should be contextualized — speaking with attorneys in the industry, or exploring online repositories for salary data, can help to identify expected salary ranges throughout the California legal industry. However, we recommend that you speak with legal recruiters who have the means and networks through which to more accurately identify salary ranges for specific organizations and positions. This preliminary research will help give you a sense of how “far” you can push your negotiations.
But preliminary salary research is only one piece of the puzzle. Self-evaluation is critical for understanding how the proposed compensation fits into your overall career goals — a much clearer and positive perspective on compensation, and one that is likely to leave a more favorable impression on employers.
Adopt a Positive, Value-Oriented Approach
Generally speaking, it’s more effective to approach salary negotiations with a value-oriented mentality. In other words, seek to support your compensation proposal by discussing the value of your upcoming contributions. For example, you can discuss how your efficiencies and positive client relationships helped your last firm save “X amount” in costs, and how you are prepared to contribute to the new firm in similar ways.
Oftentimes, attorneys approach salary negotiations with an entitled perspective, which can be off-putting for employers — they are less concerned with securing compensation based on their proposed value, and instead focused on securing compensation based on what they arguably “should” receive given the position/title/geography.
Opening Up the Conversation at a Later Date
If you are struggling with a salary negotiation but are adamant about the position itself and with working with that organization, then one option may be to request that the employer consider opening up a conversation about salary at a later date, perhaps after a forthcoming performance review — this establishes your interest and sets a clear expectation (that you want to be paid more, and that you are extending the date so as to give the employer time to recognize your value).
Navigating Around the Proposed Salary Range
A salary range is just that — a range. Except for specific Biglaw firms with strict, stepwise compensation structures, many firms and in-house legal departments operate with murky salary ranges. If you can convince the employer that you will contribute significant value to the organization, then you can likely push the compensation up to 10 percent more than the high-end of the salary range.
Contact Garb Jaffe & Associates for Legal Recruitment Assistance
Here at Garb Jaffe & Associates, our team of experienced San Francisco Bay Area legal recruiters has spent decades working with a range of attorney-candidates — from mid-level associates to senior partners — and helping them to secure best-fit positions at prominent organizations throughout the state of California.
We have an extensive network of organizations for whom we recruit: Biglaw, in-house, and boutique firms alike. Further, we maintain close contact with attorneys who have built and are currently growing their careers in various legal organizations throughout the state — this ensures that we have the detailed insider information necessary to accurately identify expected compensation within a given organization. It also helps us to identify the realities of workplace culture, projected career growth, and more.
At Garb Jaffe, our services are comprehensive. We provide assistance from beginning-to-end of the recruitment process, from evaluating potential landing spots to reconstructing resumés to practicing for interviews, and more. Our legal recruiters work tirelessly to guide attorney-candidates through every stage of the recruitment process, and are keenly aware of the frustrations and challenges that attorneys may encounter along the way — we invest significant resources towards minimizing that friction and securing a favorable result in an efficient, straightforward manner.
Ready to speak to a legal recruiter at Garb Jaffe? Call us at 310-207-0727 or complete an intake form through our website to schedule a meeting. Our services are free of cost for prospective applicants (instead, we charge organizations to connect them with great candidates).
We look forward to speaking with you.