Do you deserve a raise?

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Whether you work for yourself or for a firm or other employer there will come a time when you feel compelled to ask for a raise. (Yes, you can ask yourself for a raise.) I encourage you to first do an exercise to prepare for that conversation.

The exercise is simple. Write down all of the reasons you deserve to get paid more than you do now. Not why you “want” a raise or “need” one, why you deserve it.

This will prepare you for the time when the salary conversation takes place or allow you to justify increasing your “draw”.

It will also show you where you need to up your game.

You might note that you’re more qualified or experienced than your competition, you get better results in the courtroom or boardroom, you are regularly singled out by the Bar or your community, and the other usual yardsticks.

But that’s just the foundation.

Your value to your firm might also be measured by how you save your firm money, viz a vie fewer complaints, claims, negative reviews, or lawsuits. You might also make the case that you don’t engage in extravagant spending.

Your value might be extolled in terms of how you get along well with your subordinates and coworkers and how you help them. Note that this means less turnover and greater productivity.

You might mention how you regularly find and implement new ideas, adopt new resources and methods, and keep your firm on the cutting edge.

Do you do anything extra for the firm, anything not on the job description but that helps your employees, clients, and friends of the firm? Add that to your list.

Write it all down and wherever possible demonstrate how each item makes the firm more profitable because at the end of the day, increased profit is how you best make the case for increasing your pay.

Which leads me to the biggie: You bring in lots of business.

Describe how many clients or cases you bring in each month, the quality of those clients or size of those cases (e.g., lifetime value). Also note how little your rainmaking costs the firm, e.g., most of your new business comes from referrals which take little or no time or money compared to other marketing methods.

Note how you create quality content or presentations that bring web traffic that builds your list and leads to more business.

Note how (and why) you have less client turnover, how you help other lawyers in the firm cross-sell their services, or how you are building a great reputation and following in one or more key target markets.

Write it all down and take a good long look at it. You might see that yes, you truly are entitled to a raise, or you might realize you have work to do.

This is the big one because if you do well in this department, if you regularly bring in lots of business and increase the firm’s bottom line, you can almost ignore the other areas.

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