Pay Review – Time for a rise?

Pay Review

I have recently engaged with a few lawyers who have just had, or have, pay reviews approaching. Most were either disillusioned about the increase they received, whilst a few were nervously anticipating the same minimal rise they had previously received.

In this blog I will discuss how you can attempt to negotiate your pay rise internally rather than jumping ship immediately.

Very few solicitors look forward to pay reviews/salary negotiations, but it is crucial for both you and the firm as it’s important you feel that you’re being correctly and fairly remunerated for your position, both within the firm and the market in general. It is also important for the firm to know you are happy/unhappy with the result of the salary review, so they can do something about it.


Before the pay review meeting

It is vitally important before you attend your pay review meeting to consider/understand the rough salary range for someone at your level at your current firm and what your competitors are paying. If you are unsure of the going rate, then speak to a knowledgeable and reputable recruiter (confidentially of course).

The reason I suggest the above is how happy can you be with your current or proposed salary if you’re unsure how it matches to others around you? If a candidate I am representing feels either underpaid or undervalued, I always give them impartial advice on what the market is paying and ask them to speak to a partner in their team prior to engaging in a process elsewhere, if this is their main driver for looking to leave. Otherwise, they are faced with a difficult decision when counter offered, having been through a recruitment process and risk burning bridges with firms.


In the pay review meeting

Once you’re armed with this information it is important to relay this in the correct manner to the partner conducting the pay review. The last thing you want to do is appear aggressive or make them feel like they’re facing an ultimatum. I always advise candidates to listen to what’s being offered and the feedback on their performance and when prompted, have an open discussion about what they feel they bring to the firm and what they believe a fair remuneration package would be dictated by their performance and the market armed with the figures they’ve researched above.


Following the pay review meeting

When you have been informed of what your pay increase (if any) looks like having had the chance of a polite, yet honest discussion with the partner then now is the time to decide on what you are going to do.  Should you stay at your current firm or do you want to explore the market confidentially to see if there is a role that interests you but pays competitively.



One of the reasons it is vital to speak to a knowledgeable and reputable recruiter is that it can be dangerous to have someone unreliable to manage your salary expectations going in to a pay review. The figures need to be as accurate as possible, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

At MJN Legal, we pride ourselves in our honest, impartial approach with both candidates and clients. The market is currently candidate led, which means salaries are driven up by the shortage of good, experienced solicitors so if you are considering moving, now may be a good time to speak to explore the market.

If you feel like you are underpaid or undervalued according to your peers or the market, or you want a confidential conversation regarding salaries or the legal market in general, please contact Michael Niven on 0161 759 4690 /