Most of us have a review at least once a year, and at some stage in the conversation between yourself and your manager the topic of salary will come up. Law firm salary reviews are also somewhat particular to the industry. Whether your business or law firm has a formal process for salary reviews or a casual conversation over coffee, it pays to be prepared, literally!
A lot of people get nervous and stressed about performance reviews - it is only natural. Even more people are nervous about discussing their salary and requesting an increase. Talking to our legal recruitment consultants prior to your review may be beneficial, as we take pride in giving the most accurate assessment of your worth whilst also taking the time to help you prepare so that you can gain value from your review.
Whether you are a legal secretary going into your first law firm review or have sat through many, your review is an opportunity for you to express any concerns you may have about your role and to discuss improvements that you and your employer can make to increase your job satisfaction. If you have a basic understanding of your employer's review system and how they measure performance this should help you in preparing for your review. It is important to be honest in your review but not naive about your salary expectations. Remind your manager how you add value to the firm, how you contribute above and beyond, and if you have attended training workshops remind them of this and how these additional skills have been applied to your role.
Some people find salary surveys useful in determining their worth, though we do recommend speaking to one of our legal recruitment consultants about your particular role to gain more accurate advice, as some salary surveys can be vague. Your reasons for requesting a higher salary should be based on your specific position, rather than what another person in a similar role is earning or personal reasons for needing extra money. Your performance, individual contribution to the role, market comparisons and the business' financial performance are relevant contributors towards a salary increase.
Be prepared to back up your reasoning for a pay increase by stating how strongly you feel about your performance, how committed you are to the firm and by generally keeping the discussion positive. Stay away from negative comments like threatening to leave the business or mentioning that you have been offered a role elsewhere for more money!
If you do, for whatever reason, receive negative feedback, count to 10 and calm down. Listen to the feedback and instead of becoming defensive about your performance consider it objectively and learn from the criticism – this not only shows that you are mature, but it also shows that you are keen on staying in the business or the law firm and improving in your role.
In short, prepare for your review, remember the reasons why you add value to the business and keep calm.