Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

How much should I get paid?What should I be looking for?

I’m negotiating a raise, and I’m trying to figure out my feeder09/30/17
Years out, prior pay, region? With 5 years experience i jd4hire09/30/17
I’m in a different line of work than my previous job. I us feeder09/30/17
Makes sense, I'm from that general area of the country, but jd4hire09/30/17
Gotcha! Thanks, friend. feeder09/30/17
More Info: My previous job was in securities law (quasi). Pr feeder09/30/17
Off topic, but as a New England ID guy, do you have any opin junkwired10/17/17
Something isn't adding up. You left a higher-paying job jeffm09/30/17
Jeez Jeff! To answer your questions though I was not unemplo feeder09/30/17
I see. When I got my start as an employee, the deal was the jeffm09/30/17
I’m not deducting expenses, but I see what you mean. Based feeder09/30/17
Good luck! I hope you get it. Let us know. jeffm09/30/17
Will do! feeder10/01/17
9 months in is a little early to have much negotiating lever dingbat10/02/17
Just want to report back. Got the salary cranked up to $75K feeder10/17/17
Wow, good job. junkwired10/17/17
Congrats, that's sweet. What did you ask for? Did they cou jd4hire10/17/17
Thanks! I went in at $75K and asked for a lot more in bonus. feeder10/17/17
liking it a lot is worth a lot. Once you're making enough t dingbat10/17/17
feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 10:47 am)

I’m negotiating a raise, and I’m trying to figure out my true value. I work for a plaintiff firm doing commercial work, and my current rate is $50K plus a 6% cut of what I bring in. I expect to bring in about $200K per year. Optimistically, I could bring in $300K. I had a hard time transitioning to this position after 5 years doing corporate stuff and had to take a steep pay cut to get this job so it’s affecting my valuation of worth. Any thoughts?

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jd4hire (Sep 30, 2017 - 10:55 am)

Years out, prior pay, region?

With 5 years experience in corporate work, 50k sounds extremely low. My understanding was that corporate work paid pretty well in the old legal hierarchy.

I'd rather have guaranteed salary over a percentage of what I bring in, unless I had a solid, reliable book of business (which if that's the case you should start questioning why you are making other people money).

Also, I ask due to my ignorance on the issue - what is typical plaintiff corporate work? I always was of the understanding that commercial litigation varied and you took whatever side your client needed, as opposed to PI where you truly are plaintiff or defense.

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feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 11:18 am)

I’m in a different line of work than my previous job. I used to do transactions, compliance and lit support for a corporation. Right now, I’m essentially doing business litigation in a niche practice. It’s very specific so I don’t wanna give too much info for fear of outing self.
Been out 5.5 years, and I’m in a major Texas city. Prior compensation was $105K, but that company went under. Hence, my taking this job after serarching for over 1.5 years. It was a rough search because the of competiton from big lawyers and others with exact experience for in-house positions and my experience didn’t exactly transfer for law firms.

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jd4hire (Sep 30, 2017 - 12:48 pm)

Makes sense, I'm from that general area of the country, but have little knowledge as to the legal landscape there or what salaries are competitive.

From an ID guy in New England, 6 years out, 50k + 6% seems low. I'd highlight your previous salary, but acknowledge they can't match it. If you hope to get 12 - 18k for your cut, I'd hope to get my salary up to 75 - 80k. That's a big jump though.

It might make sense to use your time to search for a job that parallels your old position. My biggest pay increases came when I got a new job and I think that holds true for younger generations.

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feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 12:51 pm)

Gotcha! Thanks, friend.

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feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 1:12 pm)

More Info: My previous job was in securities law (quasi). Pretty hard to return with so many big lawyers with raw M&A experience so I’m hoping to turn my current opportunity into a long term practice. I’ve been at new job for 9 months so far. In a year or so, I would like to be generalist - compliance, lit, transactional - in my current field so there is opportunity. Just wanna get paid enough while I’m here.

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junkwired (Oct 17, 2017 - 9:11 am)

Off topic, but as a New England ID guy, do you have any opinions on LeClairRyan?

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jeffm (Sep 30, 2017 - 1:50 pm)

Something isn't adding up.

You left a higher-paying job and were unemployed 1.5 years. You found the current job, and you have been there 9 months. You expect to bring the firm $200,000 in business.

How come you were unemployed if you can bring in that kind of business? Why would you ever accept $50k, plus 6% (another $12k, for $62k total), if you can bring in $200k?

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feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 2:36 pm)

Jeez Jeff! To answer your questions though I was not unemployed. I knew the company was going bust so I tried to get out, but it took me a year and half. Company actually went bust while I was there, and I hung around for a few months to help with bankruptcy... My point with disclosing this was that because my transition was not smooth, it is affecting my current sense of value.

About the money part, I’m not the rainmaker; I wish I were. Just handling a basket of cases and getting a cut of what I settle. Actual expectation is 400kish, but based on current rate, 200-300k in revenue/collections is realistic.

The pitch to me was that I could settle over $600k, meaning $36k in bonus. Not possible in light of client issues I can’t disclose so we’re having to renegotiate our arrangement.

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jeffm (Sep 30, 2017 - 2:56 pm)

I see. When I got my start as an employee, the deal was the greater of my base OR 1/3 of my collected billings.

In your scenario, that would be around $67k using your $200k scenario - a $5k raise.

40% would be a nicer number from an employee's perspective, which ought not to appear too outlandish from the employer's perspective. That would be $80k - an 18k raise. If that's too big a bump, maybe you split the difference and call it 36.5% - an 11k raise (almost a grand a month!).

I take it you are deducting firm expenses from the settlement figures before performing the fee calculation.

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feeder (Sep 30, 2017 - 3:56 pm)

I’m not deducting expenses, but I see what you mean. Based on this chat, I’m going to go for $80k and see where it goes. Anything around $70 would probably work for me. Thanks, Jeff!

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jeffm (Sep 30, 2017 - 4:26 pm)

Good luck! I hope you get it. Let us know.

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feeder (Oct 1, 2017 - 8:23 am)

Will do!

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dingbat (Oct 2, 2017 - 10:24 am)

9 months in is a little early to have much negotiating leverage. You're also not bringing in the business, merely handling cases someone else brings in. The 6% you receive is an incentive to do a good job, more like profit sharing, not a cut of what you bring in.

I don't think you can ask for much of a bump. As you said, you could be settling over $600k, but are more likely to end up in the $200k-$300k range, not exactly a stellar performance.

Asking for $80k? A 60% increase, despite not being there a year and underperforming? If I was in charge, I'd start looking for your replacement. A few years back, when my significantly underperforming co-worker asked for a ridiculous raise, he was told to not show up the next day. (in all fairness, we had already hired his replacement and wanted a smooth transition - not to mention it was right before the holidays)

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feeder (Oct 17, 2017 - 8:00 am)

Just want to report back. Got the salary cranked up to $75K and bonus moved to 8%. Estimated comp. will be $100k or so. Thanks again, y’all.

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junkwired (Oct 17, 2017 - 9:14 am)

Wow, good job.

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jd4hire (Oct 17, 2017 - 9:18 am)

Congrats, that's sweet. What did you ask for? Did they counter at 75?

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feeder (Oct 17, 2017 - 10:50 am)

Thanks! I went in at $75K and asked for a lot more in bonus. They agreed to the salary, but not the full bonus.There are other items I didn’t get in full.

It helped that my city has a good enough legal market. I basically showed them stats for grads from my school, and asked for a raise in line with that. I undersold myself a bit, because I want the arrangement to be sustainable. In the end though,I am probably $10k or so under the median starting for grads from my law school. The bonus potential here is significant so I’m not too worried. That and I like it a lot here.

It was a straight forward negotiation because my boss was transparent with the numbers.

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dingbat (Oct 17, 2017 - 1:40 pm)

liking it a lot is worth a lot. Once you're making enough to not be poor, I wouldn't trade a work environment that I like for $10k

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