Industry Resources

Tips to Increase Your Biglaw Salary

Think back to the summer of 2018, when everyone thought that Tobias Harris was crazy for not taking an $80 million extension from the Los Angeles Clippers. Fast forward to the summer of 2019, Harris received a contract extension worth $180 million from the 76ers.

Just because your current employer tells you that you are worth a certain amount does NOT mean you cannot bet on yourself and secure more cash in your pocket. Salary negotiations are tricky, and it is helpful to get in touch with an experienced recruiter before you attempt to renegotiate with your current firm. Before you start maneuvering, here is a guide to consider before strategizing.

Lateral Moves. Typically, moving laterally is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to increase your salary by 10-20%. It is simply the nature of the business that different firms will value you at different levels—much like Harris means more to Philadelphia as a complement to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons than he does to the Clippers. You should leverage the market to maximize your payday. After twelve years of prep, four years of undergrad (or maybe five to the ire of your parents), three years of law school and possibly eight years as an associate, partnership is your chance for payday. What may seem like a marginal increase in pay can compound immensely after a 20-30 year partnership and any increase in pay can also provide a launch point for future increases as well. Don’t simply chase the next payday, make sure it sets up the subsequent ones as well.

Put Management On Notice (Tactfully). Approach management at the firm in a smart and well thought out manner. If you approach management without doing your research, they will not recognize your efforts and most likely you won’t get any offer at all. We have many resources available to help partners know their market worth. There are many free resources available to you so you can try to ascertain your maximum market value. Like Yelp and other user-generated-content sites, you probably won’t find the data realistic for your pay grade. Lateral Link recruiters have access to many tools to help you figure out your highest potential salary and where you can get it.

Recent laterals are also a good indicator of what you are worth on the market—albeit not always at your firm. If a partner with a similar background laterals to your firm with a significantly higher salary, go to management and show them that this is indicative of an increase in your value as well.

Success From Within. Connections are important outside of your firm, but your current workplace can also be a great resource to build your network. Seek out lawyers in similar practices and you may be able to source additional work should the client’s needs be more suited towards your expertise. Furthermore, get to know the successful group heads and try to align yourself with them. If you consistently show management that you are a hard worker and have a positive presence in the office, they will be more inclined to reward you when the time is right.

Keep in mind, your value grows, whether you are an associate, partner or counsel if the firm is prospering from your work. This might sound too obvious, but many attorneys undervalue their skills or become complacent over time. The truth is, if you are a partner and your salary has not increased over the past 10 years, you are making significantly less than market. Make sure your salary is adjusted not only for inflation but also for your market value.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. If you go into a salary negotiation, you better be able to deliver everything you promised or that will come back to bite you and you could find yourself in a worse position than where you started. When you negotiate a salary with your current or prospective firm, make sure you keep your long-term practice in mind. Everyone wants a large salary, but if you are fired or lose clients, your value has the potential to be significantly less than your previous market value.

If you are having trouble with salary negotiations or feel that your skill set is underappreciated, connect with us and we can help you determine your true market value as a starting point.