Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tools for Women Lawyers Seeking a Raise

Following is a link to and points from a New York Times article that track a panel discussion at the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan state annual meeting and conference focusing on pay equity and compensation for women lawyers on May 15.


I received this news link this morning from Dave Winter, senior shareholder and former managing shareholder of Sommers Schwartz, who was a panelist at the WLAM state annual meeting and conference. Thank you, Dave.

The "toolkit" in the article includes the following advice for women seeking a raise. I've added a few pieces of information from our panel discussion for women lawyers on increasing your compensation and obtaining creative work arrangements.

Be Proactive. If you think you deserve a raise, don't just sit there and assume someone will notice and give you one.

Be Prepared. Have clear information about how much to ask for.

Specifically, gather information from the Internet, from NALP forms at law schools, possibly from your State Bar's economic survey results which may give you general demographic-based information, from peers, not just from women peers, from mentors within your firm and elsewhere, and experienced lawyers outside your place of employment, etc.

Tailor Negotiations. The article suggests that you state why your request for a promotion or raise is appropriate and also how it makes sense for the organization. Focus on the organization.

Anticipate. Envision your boss' objections and your responses.

Negotiate at home. Think about how the raise or promotion will affect your personal life and resolve those issues.

Be Creative. Consider alternatives like flexible work schedules.

As one panelist discussed at the annual meeting Saturday, consider negotiating to be paid on an hourly basis, based on your billable hours, rather than on some reduced schedule like 80% hours for 80% pay. This frees you up from working full time some weeks while only receiving 80% of a full time employee's pay, and it allows you to bill fewer hours some weeks without feeling guilty and behind on your hours. You are compensated for the hours that you bill. This was the first time that many lawyers present had heard of this idea and that it has worked successfully.

If you have thoughts and other ideas to share, please do so.

If you would like coaching to help you make more money, please contact me.