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The bigger picture…don’t be swayed by the numbers!

Having worked your way through university and the LPC and secured that ever elusive training contract upon qualification you look forward to making some money and getting some of your debt paid off or if you have been lucky enough to get through your education debt free, then perhaps being in a position to buy a house or treat yourself to a few more luxuries! During the early years of your career it can be easy to be swayed by salary when making decisions on job offers but the reality is that for the most part, salary should be way down on your list of priorities.

The first five years of your legal career are key to shaping your future and it can’t be stressed enough that experience is key.

A good salary will often come hand in hand but never take a higher salary if it is at the expense of good training and exposure to great quality work and a good client base.

You are at your most marketable from the newly qualified through to five years’ post qualified level and the experience you gain during that period will completely shape your future career and earning prospects.

When evaluating job offers, you should consider all variables; continuing professional development, quality of work, experience of supervising partners and firm profile. All of these should come before salary on your list of priorities.

If you get these right during the early years and focus on doing what you love it will pay dividends in the future. Never therefore be swayed by a few thousand if the trade off is that your experience will suffer.

Even further down the line, although salary may matter more due to increased financial responsibility; mortgages, children, in most cases it still shouldn’t be the deciding factor. A long term view should always be taken. Career progression at the five years’ plus post qualification level is going to be high on your radar and if you’re currently at a firm with a top heavy structure and feel that pregression to senior associate/partnership is stifled then this is a very valid reason for a move onto a firm with a clearer progression path, even for an equal or even a slightly lower salary, so always be open minded when considering your options.

Movement between competing top/mid tier firms is relatively limited due to the perception of a like for like culture/salary/work type/salary banding and so on however opportunities for progression at teams within various firms can be vastly different so don’t always assume that although salary and work is going to be broadly similar there aren’t other great reasons for considering opportunities with your firm’s competitors.

We are equipped to provide you with advice on training, experience, work type, clients, team structures and future progression opportunities within all of the firms we work with, so for a confidential discussion about potential opportunities please do get in touch. You’ll be pleased to hear that it most cases a salary increase can also be achieved, but the focus for us is always on shaping your career for the longer term and future benefit.

Angharad Warren specialises in the placement of solicitors at all levels into the leading Birmingham firms.

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