Preparing for Successful Salary Negotations

Salary negotiations can be uncomfortable not only for law students or alumni, but for the hiring attorneys, as well.  We all feel a little awkward talking about money, but let’s face it . . . that’s the whole reason law firms exist.  So recognize from the outset that this is a business and that negotiations for salary or other aspects of your job are important.

Students often ask whether it is permissible to make a counter-offer.  There are no hard and fast rules about such negotiations.  You simply need to get a good feel for what the other party is receptive to and determine how to proceed.  If you sense that making a counter-offer will alienate you from the attorneys that you will be practicing with because they will think you are overly focused on monetary compensation, you might elect not to counter.  Or you might decide not to ask for a higher starting salary, but rather, for additional vacation time, a moving or acceptance bonus, payment of bar prep fees, or other expenses.  If your intuition tells you that the firm would be receptive to a counter, then proceed accordingly, but don’t get greedy.  Focus on the long term goal of becoming partner, which leads to significantly more compensation than the small raise you are maneuvering for.