As a junior lawyer how much should you be paid?

How much do you rate yourself?

We get lots of questions about how to price yourself as a junior lawyer working in-house. It can be pretty scary when someone asks, ‘what are your salary expectations?’ all of a sudden. This fear comes from not knowing your worth (are we selling ourselves short or asking for an unrealistic amount?) Whether you’re hoping to secure a pay rise in your current job, moving-house for the first time or looking at contracting (have you heard about how many secondment opportunities there are with us????) it’s critical you understand your value within the market.

Our top tips on how to determine your expectations and feel empowered discussing remuneration are below:

  • Do your research – this an important first step, particularly if you have worked at one company for a long period of time. Talk to your networks and people in similar level roles and ask if they can share their salary bracket. Google it, there are multiple websites that provide salary guidelines for various industries. Speak to professionals and ask them for an overview of the market and how salaries have been over the past year. Have they increased/decreased/stayed the same? What are the brackets they are working with for top and mid-tier clients? Location, location, location – consider where you are based (metro or country and which state) as each state has varied market rates. This is obviously crucial if you are moving interstate. We have pretty good intel on this – let us know if you need help understanding different markets.
  • Consider the job – read the advert, call the recruitment contact to ask questions and read the job description. Building your understanding of the jobs responsibilities and scope enables you to thoroughly compare and analyse against your past experiences. Ask yourself, is it a similar level of responsibility as your current position or is it a significant step up? This should give you an indication as to if the salary bracket will be similar or if you should expect (or feel comfortable requesting) an increase.
  • Moving from private practice to in-house? Remember, that the day you move from private practice to in-house is the day that you stop earning a business money and start costing a business money. Lots of people forget this crucial different – you are now a cost center to a business – so it’s important you learn how to value your time in ways other than 6 minute billing increments. (e.g. how quickly do you turn contract reviews around? How well can you get along with the Sales & Marketing team so that they come to you early on in the piece when they’ve agreed to a $2m contract with no indemnity clause?
  • Provide evidence – Consider your formal qualifications and skill set. Are you a lawyer with in-house and private practice experience? Do you have front and back end experience? Management experience? Think about what makes you unique, how your skills relate to the job description and how those skills could benefit the employer.
  • At the end of the day, throw most of this out the window, put your hand up for a new opportunity and even if it doesn’t pay you want you want right now, know that you’ll learn lots, pick up skills to help you negotiate for increases in the future and that junior lawyers are in demand!