Articles From the Team

What’s your value - as a lawyer - in today’s market?

Most of the client presentations I've recently been to, emphasise how "tight" the current market is (when it comes to obtaining top talent). 

Firms are increasingly clued up on the business cost of losing good people: the time it takes to refill the job, along with the costs associated with losing a highly trained asset, and are doing everything in their power to keep good lawyers on if they can.  So, in a market that’s “candidate driven,” what’s your value if you’re looking to move on?

Salary jumps

This is reflected in recent salary increases; it’s clear that some firms are paying a premium to attract good lawyers. Recently, one of my candidates jumped from just under 40k (at a national firm) to 52k at a Top Tier firm, which at their tender level of PQE (just 2 years) equates to quite a “punchy” salary for the North-West market.  Normally, we’d expect to see a minimum 10% increase for someone looking to move, but a lot of lawyers are seeing a 15-25% increase. Why? Because they’re finding themselves in a great bargaining position (if it’s a situation of hiring you now or enduring X more months without someone in the team, firms acknowledge the costs incurred in the latter predicament).

Realistic expectations

However, just because there are fewer candidates in the market and some firms are paying more to fill the slots within their teams, this isn’t a hard and fast rule; being realistic is a necessary factor in any job search.

Whilst a legal recruiter can advise you on their perceptions around your negotiating power (taking into account the firm you’re at, where you’re applying to, the current salaries at that level in the team, the work you’ve done etc.), we always warn against setting the bar at an unattainable level. 

During the recruitment process, firms will often ask us for a candidate lawyer’s salary expectations. From this, we work together to come up with a sensible but attractive figure (they do need to convince you after all) - then it works better for both parties.

We recently ran a process where one of our lawyer candidates lost out on a potentially lucrative move (away from a practice area they didn’t enjoy) due to unrealistic expectations around salary. If this lawyer followed our advice, they would’ve secured an almost 25% increase in salary!

So, whilst you might have more room to manoeuvre as fewer people move on, there’s a “realistic price” that applies to every job. 

Going into battle

BCL Legal has placed thousands of candidates over the years and you can be sure we always try to get you the best possible offer. We’re always prepared to go into battle to get you what you want but be wary of using hearsay as your justification: “I know someone who got this offer” or “I have a friend who got that.” They say, “shoot for the stars and hit the sky” but be wary of shooting too far, as you mightn’t leave the ground!

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