You’ve filled out countless applications, sweated through stressful interviews, and now you’ve finally scored a legal job offer. So it’s time to dive straight into your legal career, right?
Not so fast. Before you accept any job offer, it’s important to read through the terms carefully and evaluate whether the position is a good fit for you. Here are four points to consider before accepting a job offer:
1. Don’t underestimate job perks.
Let’s say you receive two legal job offers. Firm A is offering you a 10 percent higher salary than Firm B. So isn’t Firm A’s offer your obvious choice? Not necessarily. Depending on your particular lifestyle and goals, job perks may be more valuable than a soaring salary.
Take a close look at the benefits any organization offers before you automatically opt for a higher salary. For example, Firm B may provide top-of-the-line health insurance, a 401(k) and a boatload of other perks — such as free office lunches, half-day Fridays, professional development opportunities and the option to work from home. Depending on your priorities, Firm B may be your best bet — even if their salary offer is lower.
2. Office culture can make or break a legal career.
For some legal professionals, a law firm’s culture is more important than compensation. If it doesn’t fit your personality, you could end up dreading going to work every day. So think back to what you saw around the office during your job interview. Were employees dressed to the nines, or was office attire more casual? Did you overhear friendly conversation in the hall, or did everyone seem rushed and stressed? Did you observe healthy camaraderie, or did employees seem highly competitive? Depending on what drives you, you may prefer a more laid-back office, or you might thrive in a more fast-paced environment. Consider all of these factors before you accept that job offer.
3. Everything is negotiable.
Before you sign on the dotted line and settle for a second-rate career package, take time to negotiate. For example, if a firm can’t offer you a higher salary, try asking for more paid vacation days, matching 401(k) funds or even an office with a view. On the other hand, if they don’t provide the option to telecommute that you really wanted, ask for a higher salary or a flexible work schedule.
4. Not all salaries are created equal.
If salary is your top concern, make sure that any potential employer is offering you a competitive amount. That means doing your research, such as taking a look at the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide. It shows projected starting salary ranges for lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and other positions throughout the legal field.
After carefully evaluating these four elements, you may discover that the legal job you’ve been offered is not right for you after all. In that case, you might need to clarify your legal career priorities — or even consider positions in a different practice area, particularly if you have skills that are in high demand.