Lawyer Dumpster Dives for Lunch
July 7, 2010 11:51 AM Subscribe
Family Business Filter: How do I negotiate a salary that reflects my value? How does a firm base salary from hourly billing rate?
posted by anonymous to work & money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just graduated from law school and am joining my dad in his solo practice. We're in a small Midwest market.
He's offering me $25,000 with the likelihood of managing when he retires in "a few" years. I know I can barely live off that salary in this area, but because I tend to be self-effacing I figured it's worth it if I can manage a law firm sooner than later. But conversations with people I trust, plus my own intuition, have led me to think that I'm being undervalued. I say "intuition" instead of "research" because the market is small enough that any feelers I put out about other employment would almost certainly get back to him, and postings don't usually mention salaries. I do know of one friend employed locally in legal academia who is being paid a salary of $40,000 plus benefits (did I mention I get no benefits?).
My first question is, how to I determine what is reasonable? I know I should go by market average, but like I said I can't exactly look for other jobs. I did figure that he's billing me now at $50/hour. If he continues that (and it will probably go up), then I'll bring $96,000 to the firm if I work full-time for a year. Do you know what a reasonable percentage of their billing hour is paid to new attorneys?
So my next question is, how should I approach this? Because he's my dad, I'm afraid it will turn into a conversation where I'm asking him to give me an allowance or match my cost of living (I would like to move into a nicer place, by which I mean rent around $600-50 instead of a $450 basement). He knows about my financial struggles through school and knows how much debt I have. I would very much like to keep the conversation to my value to the firm as a new attorney instead of my value to him as a daughter. How did you manage this if you work with family?