How to approach salary negotiations

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How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:52 am

I'm a 2012 grad and after passing the bar came on as an associate at the plaintiff firm that I clerked with while in law school and as a post-bar. I recently started looking and applying to other jobs in the same practice area hoping to find something that pays better and bigger than the small office I work in now. My first interview today went well (was very long) and ended with an offer. The offer, however, was for only slightly more than what I'm already being paid. The firm is larger and more well-known than the firm I'm currently with, at least on the West coast. Does anyone know what average salary for an approx 20 attorney plaintiff firm is? I feel like I need to counter but have absolutely no clue what is market rate for this kind of firm and how to go about it. Any suggestions?

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:08 am

http://www.nalpdirectory.com

Searching for CA firms with fewer than 25 employees comes up with 4 results ranging from 90k to 160k entry level salary. I didn't see a practice area that specified plaintiff side so this might not be that relevant, but probably a place to start.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:40 am

So if I'm getting 80k now, and they offered 85k - should I be asking for 95k? I was sort of stunned at the 85k number - this is a much larger operation than the firm I am currently working at.

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guano
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby guano » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:http://www.nalpdirectory.com

Searching for CA firms with fewer than 25 employees comes up with 4 results ranging from 90k to 160k entry level salary. I didn't see a practice area that specified plaintiff side so this might not be that relevant, but probably a place to start.

I'm gonna say the majority of law firms have fewer than 25 employees, but most do not report to NALP. This is probably of little help, as I imagine most firms too small to report to NALP pay (significantly) less than those that do report to NALP.
Asking for too much more might chase them away.

Whatever the firm's offer was is the best stating point for negotiation. Figure you can probably talk them up 10-20%, and negotiate accordingly.

I'd suggest asking for about 25% more (feel free to round up a little), and see how they react

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby arklaw13 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:50 am

Generally, I would just ask for what you want in order to move. It takes a lot of effort to transition between jobs so they need to make it worth your while. If they won't budge on salary, try negotiating for more vacation or sick days. Also, are there differences in benefits? If they contribute more to your health insurance than your current firm, that's basically the same as a higher salary.

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guano
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby guano » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:So if I'm getting 80k now, and they offered 85k - should I be asking for 95k? I was sort of stunned at the 85k number - this is a much larger operation than the firm I am currently working at.

You can ask for $100k, maybe as much as $110k (doesn't mean you'll get it, but it won't be insulting). They'll then probably counter at $90 or $95

Alternatively, tell them you are interested, but it's barely more than you're making now, can they sweeten the offer a little? They'll either offer a bit more, or, more likely, ask you what you need (final number). Then ask for $90 or $95.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:01 am

Right now I get pretty good benefits where I am at 80k + full health, dental, vision (I don't have to contribute to health ins). I wasn't really ready to get an offer at the interview and at the end of the 2.5 hour process I totally did not think to even ask about the benefits. I'm going to be following up - at the very least they will have to match the benefits that I already have. So 25% more is about 105k - is that a reasonable counter? Also what is the best way to go about countering - when the firm I am currently at offered me what I get now I tried to negotiate but was basically told to take it or leave it. I feel as though either (a) I'm not very good at this negotiating salary thing or (b) these firms now that the legal market is saturated where we are and therefore they can easily get someone in at low rates.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:03 am

They already know that at my current job I'm making 80k and that I want to leave to a bigger firm. Maybe I disclosed too much about my desire to get out - I don't know

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guano
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby guano » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:Right now I get pretty good benefits where I am at 80k + full health, dental, vision (I don't have to contribute to health ins). I wasn't really ready to get an offer at the interview and at the end of the 2.5 hour process I totally did not think to even ask about the benefits. I'm going to be following up - at the very least they will have to match the benefits that I already have. So 25% more is about 105k - is that a reasonable counter? Also what is the best way to go about countering - when the firm I am currently at offered me what I get now I tried to negotiate but was basically told to take it or leave it. I feel as though either (a) I'm not very good at this negotiating salary thing or (b) these firms now that the legal market is saturated where we are and therefore they can easily get someone in at low rates.

The easy way is to say you're interested, but it's not much more than you're making now. Is there any chance they can make the offer a little more attractive for you?
That strategy won't result in a huge boost, but it'll probably net you an extra $5 or $10k, without risking them withdrawing the offer, or otherwise rubbing them the wrong way

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:21 am

guano wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Right now I get pretty good benefits where I am at 80k + full health, dental, vision (I don't have to contribute to health ins). I wasn't really ready to get an offer at the interview and at the end of the 2.5 hour process I totally did not think to even ask about the benefits. I'm going to be following up - at the very least they will have to match the benefits that I already have. So 25% more is about 105k - is that a reasonable counter? Also what is the best way to go about countering - when the firm I am currently at offered me what I get now I tried to negotiate but was basically told to take it or leave it. I feel as though either (a) I'm not very good at this negotiating salary thing or (b) these firms now that the legal market is saturated where we are and therefore they can easily get someone in at low rates.

The easy way is to say you're interested, but it's not much more than you're making now. Is there any chance they can make the offer a little more attractive for you?
That strategy won't result in a huge boost, but it'll probably net you an extra $5 or $10k, without risking them withdrawing the offer, or otherwise rubbing them the wrong way



After the initial offer I said that I was really looking for more than 85 to leave where I am. I got a explanation that they pay their first year associates 70-75K (I've only been practicing for a bit under a year but have experience in this area for 2.5 year since clerking in law school). The partner seemed to be saying this was more than what they would have offered but I'm already being paid 80k so obviously if they want me to leave they have to do somewhat better than that- but I just have a hard time swallowing 75K for first-year associates number. He did say that associates go up in salary relatively quickly - said that one of his associates that started two years as a first year started at much less than 85K and now makes "much more than that".

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guano
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby guano » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:36 am

"much less" and "much more" are very vague. How much? Do all associates make that much more, or is that the exception? What are the stipulations/requirements for pay rises?
If there are automatic increases, then that's great, but if its tied to bringing in business, then that's a whole different story. You need more information. Treat it like a case - you dig for all the information

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Lwoods
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Lwoods » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:38 am

The Robert Half Legal Salary Guide is a good place to get objective salary data. It gives a table of salaries based on firm size and level of experience and then has multipliers for different markets.

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wiz
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby wiz » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:45 am

Try to avoid asking for a round number. See http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/a/SB100014 ... reno64-wsj

ETA: I would pick a number you like between 100k and 105k and try to negotiate from there.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:52 am

guano wrote:"much less" and "much more" are very vague. How much? Do all associates make that much more, or is that the exception? What are the stipulations/requirements for pay rises?
If there are automatic increases, then that's great, but if its tied to bringing in business, then that's a whole different story. You need more information. Treat it like a case - you dig for all the information



Do you think asking for another meeting to discuss the offer is appropriate? Email seems like an odd way to discuss it but I've never really done this before.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:53 am

Lwoods wrote:The Robert Half Legal Salary Guide is a good place to get objective salary data. It gives a table of salaries based on firm size and level of experience and then has multipliers for different markets.



I think based on this the offer is definitely low considering the multiplier for my area.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:54 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Lwoods wrote:The Robert Half Legal Salary Guide is a good place to get objective salary data. It gives a table of salaries based on firm size and level of experience and then has multipliers for different markets.



I think based on this the offer is definitely low considering the multiplier for my area.


But then again, Plaintiff side firms are somewhat of a different beast. Generally P firms are pretty opaque when it comes to their salary information. I can't find a lot on what is market for Plaintiff firms - the business model is quite a bit different than defense firms.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:55 am

wiz wrote:Try to avoid asking for a round number. See http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/a/SB100014 ... reno64-wsj

ETA: I would pick a number you like between 100k and 105k and try to negotiate from there.


Interesting - maybe I counter with 102,555 or something. Sounds so random!

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guano
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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby guano » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
wiz wrote:Try to avoid asking for a round number. See http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/a/SB100014 ... reno64-wsj

ETA: I would pick a number you like between 100k and 105k and try to negotiate from there.


Interesting - maybe I counter with 102,555 or something. Sounds so random!

I tried that once (still rounded to the nearest thousand) and was met by a very perplexed look.
I read the article when it first was published, but I'm not sure how much faith to put in it.

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Re: How to approach salary negotiations

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:58 pm

Just defend it.

"Based on my Y years doing X work and pay ranges of other positions in the market, I think a salary of $xxxk is more commensurate with my experience"

All they can do is say no. Ask what you think is reasonable and that you want, do research and figure out what similar positions pay. Pay ranges at small firms vary widely so they may just come back and say no. At that point you decide if that is a firm/position/pay that you want or not.




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