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Solicitor Recruitment Advice: Part 3 – The Offer

In the final installment of his three-part series, Senior Recruitment Consultant on our Legal, P&I and Insurance desk, Tom Brooks gives his advice to solicitors on the all-important offer stage.


Congratulations, the offer you have been hoping for has come in! So, what next?  

It has been said to me by a few individuals previously that the offer stage is the most daunting part of the entire process. In the perfect scenario, everything is as you hoped, all is well, you accept, and everything comes together after a long process. But for some, this isn’t the case. There can sometimes be something that doesn’t add up. Being offered a salary lower than anticipated, unexpectedly losing out on a benefit you were keen to keep, or an issue regarding potential relocation assistance/visa discrepancies just to name a few examples.  

It is therefore essential to be as prepared as possible at all stages, to ensure as smooth a sailing throughout.  

Being prepared for the offer stage 

Making sure all is well at the offer stage begins at the start of the process, so let’s rewind back to there. 

We will always endeavour to get accurate salary budgets for roles or will know the likely salary based on our previous experience in the market. Of course, sometimes clients keep their cards close to their chest, but that gives you more control over the negotiations.  

It is important to be honest from the start about your current salary when asked – no one likes hidden surprises further down the line and that includes you. We fully respect a candidate’s wish not to disclose their salary or earnings, but it is useful and kept highly confidential.  

When asked what your current salary / package is, please remember to include all elements and not just basic salary, e.g. bonuses and commissions. This is the case whether moving from Private Practice to an in-house role, or even moving from a law firm to another. Likewise, if you are on a clear career path, let’s say in a law firm, then highlight that as it will be clear the likely salary progression path that you are currently on.  

Then comes the question of expectations. Simply put, how much money would you need to accept the position if offered it? 

Make sure you do your market research prior to giving an idea of what you are looking for. Please do also factor in those salaries, and associated pay scales, for qualified solicitors are different in Private Practice when compared to in-house. We certainly want to avoid a situation where your salary expectation has gone up by £30k because of market research you have done too late. If you struggle with market research we are always here to help, we place people every day and this is part of the process we are very used to. 

Factor in upcoming bonuses. There are often provisions such as signing on bonuses, delayed start dates etc. that can compensate for this, but it is usually never looked upon favourably if this is only brought to the attention of the hiring client at the final moment, so please be honest about it upfront, or as early in the process as possible.   

There are of course scenarios where you simply do not know your exact salary expectation until you have found out more about the role. 

Is there relocation involved?  

I will cover relocation as a standalone topic next week, but this is a key factor that must be considered from the get-go and must continue to be monitored throughout. The cost of living can fluctuate from month to month in certain jurisdictions, then there are of course the visas needed to relocate (which can take some time to come through), schooling for children etc.  Something that is often overlooked in the initial thought processes is if you will be relocating with a partner, it is key to consider what they will do for work if they are relocating with you 

Expat packages in the traditional sense, are a thing of the past in most places, but companies can offer relocation elements for their legal hires so it is always worth finding out this at the beginning, as it will be factored into your relocation and cost of living costs and therefore ultimately the final package that you would need.  

Receiving the offer 

I like to look at this as a two-part process. First, the agreeing of the numbers verbally. The second stage is then the review of the contract and the finer details. In other words, you will (hopefully!) verbally accept the financial offer with a view to then reviewing the contract and the further details of the package. Remember, nothing is official until you have signed on the dotted line, so by verbally agreeing the initial figure, you are not fully committing yourself to anything at this stage. 

In rare cases, seemingly more common with law firm hires than in-house, offer conversations can happen directly in later meetings. You do not have to agree to anything on the spot and it is perfectly acceptable to go away and consider things in your own time. In fact, I would advise doing so. 

Usually, there will be no hidden surprises in a contract, but we will always be on hand to answer any questions or seek clarification on any points you are unsure of. 

Negotiating the offer 

Negotiating should not be seen as a negative. As we have previously said, ideally it won’t be needed but there are occasions where offers come in lower than we would expect. If it is lower than the amount you have stated all along, then absolutely negotiate. If you have done the market research, and are able to fully evaluate your skill set and your value to the company, there is no harm in negotiating the offer of a higher salary if that is the area in need of negotiation. When it comes to areas other than the salary such as benefits, these are usually company standard benefits so often cannot be negotiated. However, that doesn’t mean that things can’t be done with other areas of the package so there is still a conversation to be had in certain circumstances.  

If, however, things have changed, be it in your personal circumstances or even the job role itself changing, then you may wish to ask for a slightly different salary to compensate for this. Usually, the recruitment consultant will know the client very well and know if there is likely to be any wiggle room, and how best to have those conversations.  

Another thing to remember is when using a recruiter, a lot of the nerves surrounding negotiations are taken care of by us and we will have the conversations on your behalf, always ensuring you are best represented.  

Time is sometimes of the essence when it comes to an offer. That’s not to say you must give an immediate on-the-spot response, but clients do expect that after what can sometimes be a lengthy process it is not looked on favourable to drag out this stage. It is also worth considering that often notice periods in the legal sector are at least three months and so they can be keen to get the contract signed and get you onboard as soon as possible. 

Sometimes, you are the chosen candidate out of a process involving a handful, meaning there is a backup in a lot of cases, so delaying it and potentially demonstrating a lack of enthusiasm can kill the offer. 

Counter offers 

Sometimes, when you hand your notice in, your current company will make you a counter offer. As my colleague Liam Daly recently posted, there are 4 key things to look out for when considering whether they are worth accepting: 

  1. Does a higher wage solve the issues you’re having in your current role? Remember why you’re leaving. Bad culture, limited/slow progression, zero appreciation – all valid reasons to disregard a pay rise in an attempt to keep you. 
  2. Are you still passionate about where you are? If you’ve already considered other roles, chances are you’ve clocked out of your current job. Would a higher wage re-spark your passion or are you kidding yourself to stay comfortable, only to eventually leave when you feel the same dissatisfactions?   
  3. Too little too late. If your company is willing to pay you more now that you’re leaving, why was this unavailable before you made that step? Do they really have your best interest at heart or are they trying to be cost-effective instead of replacing you?
  4. More money, more problems. A pay rise usually equates to higher expectations. If you’re already feeling worked to the bone on your current salary, chances are you’ll feel the pressure a lot more with increased pay.”   

Offers are the reward at the end of a process and sometimes they are exactly what you want and sometimes not so much. Whatever the situation, we can help you along the way from start to end.

If you should you need any further advice or pointers, then please get in touch either by email, [email protected] or call the office +44 1702 480142.

You can also connect with me via LinkedIn

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