Posted by Lisa Hamilton on Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 00:00
Wondering how to negotiate your paralegal salary increase? Although the nation’s economy is stronger than it has been in several years, it’s still not so robust that law firms have extra money to spend on company-wide raises. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for the same paralegal salary year after year. You should definitely ask your manager for a pay increase, especially if it’s been several years since your last one – but you have to be strategic about it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare and deliver your pitch.
Prove your worth
Before approaching your manager to negotiate a boost to your paralegal salary, think about recent instances that demonstrate you’re worth more to the firm than what you’re currently being paid. For starters, ask yourself these questions:
- Do the firm’s lawyers see you as an indispensable team member with specialized knowledge? Jot down specific examples of how you’ve supported them in this capacity. Look through your email and written correspondences for thank-you messages that describe a job especially well done.
- Have you recently completed courses that boosted your skills, such as tech training and continuing legal education?
- Have you helped the firm in gaining a new client or retaining an especially valuable one? How much was this effort worth?
- Have you saved the company time or money by implementing new practices? Write down how, and how much.
- Have you recently taken on tasks that are not in your original job description?
These questions are just a springboard. With this exercise, you can determine your increasing worth to the firm and provide the tangible evidence that proves you deserve a higher paralegal salary.
Research current market rates on your paralegal salary
Before you ask for a raise, you should have an amount in mind. Find the latest paralegal salary range for your ZIP code by running the data through Robert Half Legal’s Salary Calculator. The Robert Half Legal Salary Guide, which includes information on current hiring trends, is also a great resource.
If your paralegal salary is below the market rate, you’ll have a very strong case, especially if you can also show how your value has increased since your last raise or since you were first hired.
Even if your pay is already at or near the high end, you can still ask for an increase.
Just focus on the fact that you’re worth more than your present salary based on your many invaluable contributions to the firm.
How to make your case
There’s no doubt that asking for a salary increase can be nerve-wracking. That’s why it’s important to role-play the scenario with a friend before you walk into your boss’s office. Like a good litigator, anticipate possible questions and prepare your responses. In addition, document all the information you’ve gathered about your increased value to the firm and about the average paralegal salary for your region.
When you do sit down with your manager, start off the meeting by emphasizing how much you enjoy your job. Then go through all the reasons why you feel you merit a raise. Finally, present your desired salary and back it up with data.
Even though the economy is still recovering, it’s possible to successfully negotiate a pay increase. The keys are to do your research, gather the data, practice negotiating, and make a watertight case for why you deserve a higher paralegal salary.