Regardless of the stage in your legal career, exploring a new opportunity may result in the inevitable step of discussing compensation. Being confronted with questions about your current salary and salary expectations are not uncommon. These questions are uncomfortable for many, and with the ever-evolving complexities in the legal market, there is even greater uncertainty regarding how best to answer them.
Nuances vary considerably from one organization to another – some firms have more traditional compensation models, typically involving more subjective criteria, while other firms have much more objective formulas to deduce compensation. Some firms pay lower base salaries, but have higher bonuses or distributions, and other firms reward more for hours billed and collected than firms that recognize their attorneys, to a greater extent, for dollars originated. Similarly, companies compensate and reward their attorneys in various ways.
Also, firms across the country and in the local, Arizona market, are raising their Associate compensation by thousands of dollars, and in some cases, by tens of thousands of dollars, so the differences are extensive and are shaking up the standards in the legal market, in real time. Of course, this does not begin to factor in circumstances that may exist from one attorney to the next.
So how do you navigate this process? Most importantly, be prepared. Hence, research is the most critical step in being equipped with the right information. Companies, firms, and attorneys, alike, should be thinking about what is fair and equitable, in the marketplace, and obtaining current data. Keep in mind, however, “fair and equitable” compensation encompasses more than salary – you need to consider variables, such as bonuses, billable hours, benefits, marketing dollars, and non-tangible considerations. Therefore, it is important to assess an offer by looking at the whole package. You may, also, seek a third party’s assistance, in gleaning specific insight, and one who specializes in the Arizona, legal market and can act as a valuable resource, providing tailored feedback.