Outgrown Your Legal Salary? How to Get a Raise 


I’ve been in the same position at my law firm for three years, during which time I’ve taken on additional responsibilities, pursued advanced training and gained specialized expertise in several new practice areas. I’d like to approach my manager for a salary increase. Any advice?  


Pat yourself on the back for taking control of your legal career. It sounds like you’ve become a more valuable member of your law firm, which means you’re in a good position to ask for a raise. Here are four strategies to consider as you prepare your pitch. 

  1. Build your case. You’ve gone above and beyond your original job description. Now you need to document it and demonstrate that your request has merit. List all the legal education courses you’ve taken and the areas in which you have gained expertise. Then highlight the new responsibilities you’ve taken on since you were hired. Note your specialized skills and provide specific examples of the roles you’ve played in cases.  
  2. Do your homework. When asking for a raise, don’t go by feel. You need to have some basis for the number, or else you risk overshooting or, worse, leaving money on the table. Determine what your skills and abilities are worth by using resources such as the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide. A little preparation can net a bigger payday. 
  3.  Be mindful of timing.When you ask for a raise can be just as important as how you ask. For example, it’s not ideal to approach your boss when a major case is stressing everyone out. Also, avoid asking when your manager is getting ready to travel. A good time to make your request would be after a big win in which you played a part or when the firm is having a profitable quarter. 
  4. Have a backup plan. Even when you make an excellent case, it’s possible you’ll get turned down. In this scenario, you could lobby your boss for non-wage perks like more vacation days or the option to telecommute a few days a week. Alternatively, if it seems like the firm isn’t willing to fairly compensate you for your skills and expertise, it could be time to search for a new legal job that will net you a larger paycheck and more opportunities. 


When paired with your accomplishments, these strategies can help make your salary goals a reality. Good luck!