We ask senior consultant at Randstad Legal, Eva Arelic, how to factor in financial reward and get the timing right for your next best offer.
It is reasonable to expect that an industrious lawyer in a commercial firm is motivated by financial reward, even if this is not the number one driver. Nevertheless, the subject of salary is too often considered taboo even though it's an entirely appropriate consideration regarding a potential new role.
Significant disparities still exist between law firms for almost identical roles and it is not unreasonable to correct salary by changing employer. However, even for those who accept this, a number of misconceptions exist - the greatest of all being timing of the move.
It is often assumed that the best time to move is immediately after an annual salary review. While it is true that more "urgent" vacancies tend to become available around the end of financial year, there is never a bad time to move if one of the motivators is correcting a below-market salary.
Those firms that pay at the higher end of the market are fully aware of their position; they do so because they consider it vital to their competitiveness and performance. Most importantly, firms that pay the most competitive salaries do not simply pay a premium based on a candidate's present salary. They are in their competitive position as they have better information about their competitors, including end of financial year salary increases that the candidate can expect at their present firm.
It is unlikely that any candidate will move purely for money and such a move would be ill-advised, even where an individual is blatantly underpaid. Such a move would almost certainly be accompanied by a number of cultural issues of far greater importance than salary. However, the ideal role can become available at any time and candidates are not obliged to wait for a less than satisfactory salary increase to start their search.
Essentially, salary considerations should be of secondary importance when commencing the job search process. Candidates need to evaluate the access to quality work, superior mentoring, firm culture and career progression.