Career Advice from Robert Half Legal
Q: I was recently laid-off and have been looking for a new legal job. I have had several interviews for a position that seems promising. If I receive a job offer, how should I evaluate the components of the compensation package to decide if the salary and benefits I’m being offered are competitive and will meet my long-term needs?
A: Start now even before receiving an offer by evaluating your market value. Research current salary ranges using reliable industry resources, such as the Robert Half Legal salary calculator, to find out the salary range for the position you’re seeking, given your experience and geographic area.
Keep in mind that salary isn’t everything. Law firms and corporate legal departments are looking for candidates who can make immediate contributions with little or no learning curve. Employers are competing for that kind of talent, and, if this describes you, they will often offer a range of benefits, perks and incentives to get you on their team. So, how do you weigh up the value of these extras?
Dig into the detail. Most employers offer health insurance. But what about deductibles, networks and levels of coverage? Some firms may offer generous paid time off. But will they pay you for sick days? If someone makes you an offer, these are the questions you should be asking. If an employer shows interest in you, ask the hiring manager to go through the fine details with you, so you have a clear idea of how closely the benefits and perks align with your needs.
Know your must-haves. Everyone has their own list of essential perks and benefits. Before you begin negotiating, you need to decide what you can’t live without. The 2020 Robert Half Legal Salary Guide lists the most popular compensation package components, plus the percentage of legal employers who offer them:
- Health insurance (81%)
- Paid time off (76%)
- Retirement savings plan (65%)
- Flexible work schedules (50%)
- Paid parental leave (47%)
- Paid time off for volunteer activities (32%)
You should re-evaluate your priorities often. For example, the ability to work from home may have become more important to you in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ignore anything you do not need. Some employers try to stand out by offering unique benefits like pet insurance and personal concierge services. While these benefits are great if you need them, if you won’t realize any value from them, then forget about them when you’re assessing an offer. The same applies to more mainstream benefits. If you’re already insured, you may not care about life insurance or if you don’t plan on studying, you can overlook tuition assistance.
Be prepared to negotiate. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you’re a good fit for the role, your prospective employer is likely to make you an attractive offer. If a higher salary isn’t feasible in the short-term, you could negotiate additional perks and revisit pay ranges in the future.
Robert Half Legal is a premier legal staffing service specializing in the placement of attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators and other legal professionals with law firms and corporate legal departments. Based in Menlo Park, Calif., Robert Half Legal has offices in major North American and global markets and offers a full suite of legal staffing and consulting solutions.