“A new lawyer in my firm is paid more than me but my PQE is higher so now I want to move to another law firm.”

Published On: July 9, 2021

01603 516261   |    07960 743650   |    info@olsenrecruitment.com

01603 516261      07960 743650      info@olsenrecruitment.com

This is a really sensitive situation and unfortunately quite a common one too. If you have recently found out that a new joiner has joined on a higher salary than you we recommend you take these steps in this order:

(1) Try to understand why this has happened.

(2) Try to get yourself a payrise too if you judge you’re in a strong position to ask for one; and 

(3) If ultimately you can’t get a payrise or still feel undervalued by your current firm, consider exploring the market yourself. 

So let’s work through each point:

(1) As above, this is a very common occurrence in the market. Many law firm partners will face the dilemma of whether to hire when faced with an expensive lawyer – and that’s especially true if their vacancy has been open for months and they have no other suitable candidates to consider. The choice for them is essentially:

  • Do they grow their business (which might mean improving profitability, attracting new clients, and easing the workloads of existing staff) and simultaneously take the risk of paying that lawyer more money than valued existing staff; or 
  • Decide to decline the opportunity of hiring an expensive lawyer (and therefore lose that potential to grow the team, the client base and easing any high workload carried out by existing staff now) because paying a new hire more money is risky –  there is no guarantee a new hire will perform well and they don’t want to upset existing staff.

There is no right or wrong answer – either position carries its own set of risks; this is a dilemma faced by many law firm partners in the region, and what position they adopt will depend on their culture, their client base, existing workloads and other factors (such as salary bands) .

(2) Having first understood that the partners likely faced the above dilemma and assuming you like your job (save for your salary which now makes you feel undervalued) write out a plan as to why you should be given a payrise – either immediately or at the next pay review. If you handle this situation in a calm, considered and professional way, and you have a strong business case for a payrise yourself, the chances are, you will get one without upsetting anybody. As an aside note, what is also worth considering is that many law firms will put any salary differences right in time too – often at the next pay review opportunity. So essentially you’ve tried (and may succeed) to secure an outcome which benefits everyone: you and your law firm.

(3) Our agency will help you move firms if ultimately you take this above course of action first and it doesn’t work out/you still feel undervalued. The reason why we will insist on you asking for a payrise first is because potentially moving jobs when your primary motivation is only to get more money can sometimes mean you would be receptive to a counter-offer to stay in your current law firm if one was offered. A counter-offer when accepted by you has the potential end result of upsetting your current firm (even if you choose to stay), your potential new firm and possibly your recruiter if you are using one.

By taking these steps in this sequence you could enhance your reputation in your current law firm with your strong business case for a payrise and be well on your way to the progression you are working towards (and then one day you might face the same dilemma yourself when you are a partner). 

If you want to talk to us about legal recruitment, you can call, text or WhatsApp us anytime of day:

07960 743650


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