What kind of raise can I expect after passing the bar?
March 24, 2015 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Are "bar passage" raises nominal in nature?

I just received my first job offer with a salary! I am still in law school and have been offered a position as a law clerk to begin after I take the bar. After I pass the bar, I will become an associate and will receive a raise accordingly. I'm not sure what to expect. My law clerk salary is very generous.

Does anyone know what this means? Is it like a nominal thing? I just don't know what to expect...this is my first salary paying job I've ever had. I have waitressed or worked hourly my whole life, so I am super new to all this! And it's so exciting!

I just don't want to look like an idiot when discussing these matters with my boss in the future.
posted by kbennett289 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
What kind of job? If it's BigLaw, it'll be lockstep and you can probably find out by Googling. Same with government. If it's a small/medium firm or a nonprofit, it's probably negotiable.
posted by decathecting at 5:14 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is your law clerk salary generous for a law clerk, or are you compensated as if you were a lawyer already? If the latter, it will probably be nominal. If the former, it could be substantial.

This is almost a red herring. What you want is to be fairly compensated as a first year associate after you pass the bar. What is fair depends on your city, the market, the size of your firm, and your practice area.

Also I wouldn't negotiate hard or anything. Without experience you have no leverage in this job market. But if you're not compensated fairly, I would remember, and consider a lateral move at an appropriate time.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:17 PM on March 24, 2015

It wouldn't make you look like an idiot to ask what they anticipate the associate salary to be. If all goes well you'll only be sitting at the clerk level for like 4 months (July bar results come out in November, right?) so it would not be unusual for you to want to know what your first year salary is realistically likely to be.

To be clear you are working for a private firm and not the government, right? Because the federal government does have fixed salary levels / raises based on education level and certifications, and the HR person should definitely be willing to walk through those with you if that is the case.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:28 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a total educated guess, but if your law clerk salary is already "very generous" then they are basicaly already paying as an associate and you are a law clerk in name only. I would not expect a significant raise. Probably in the 10-20k range.
posted by whoaali at 5:53 PM on March 24, 2015

No one here can answer this, but I suspect if the firm wasn't explicit about the amount, it's not going to be very much.
posted by stowaway at 9:58 PM on March 24, 2015

The size of your raise will probably depend a lot on how well you perform over the next few months.
posted by unreasonable at 2:05 PM on March 25, 2015

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