Pay Review Reactions: Advice for lawyers

Pay Review Reactions

This is an avatar image of the blog author Tanya Dunbabin

Not happy with the pay rise you received recently?  Do you think it did not accurately represent your contribution the year over?  Did you talk to anyone with the power to change it?

You have three choices here when you are unhappy with your salary review: 


1)  You can kick up a major fuss, bitch to all of your colleagues and friends about how you have not be compensated adequately for the all the work you did and demand a further salary increase.

2)  You can ask your supervisor calmly for a discussion about your salary review. You calmly present to him or her the highlights of your performance across the year and where you went above and beyond to warrant a salary increase larger than what you received.  All these highlights, however, should already be known by your supervisor, and were likely already previously considered and taken into account.   

3)  Understand that a huge amount of time and effort has gone into reaching the figure that has been presented to you as your salary increase.  Market data has been examined, parity across your level, the firm and nationally has been considered and reconsidered, and economic conditions have contributed to this decision. Ultimately the decision has been reached by the firm to reward your contribution with said salary increase.  


A salary review doesn’t mean an increase.  Market conditions, often beyond your control, contribute to salary decisions.  The Australian economy presently is steady, if not slow.  Wage growth is quite stagnant.  And the legal landscape is being impacted by elements of client pricing models, AI, disruptive technologies and growing inhouse legal teams.  All this affects you.  

Your focus should in fact be on asking this question - "What do you need to see from me to warrant a greater increase next year?" 

Without this information you are operating in the dark.  You need to know what your KPIs are, what your targets are, what you need to achieve for your level and what performance levels you are being measured against. You need to understand what your supervisor wants you to focus on and how you can measure your growth in this area.  This is the kind of positive conversation you should be having with your boss instead of (a) above. This should be a regular conversation and not just a once a year thing.  You need to know how you are tracking and you need to be in charge of it - it is your career.  So drive it!  Make sure you have set yourself targets and you know what your boss needs you to achieve.  Review these goals throughout the year and set more if you have ticked them off already.  You want to be challenged and continually growing. Finally, schedule regular conversations with your supervisor so you know how they think you are tracking.   

Make the right choice regarding this conversation - (a), (b) or (c) - it is an important one.  It affects your brand, your image and your relationships for your career future.  


If you would like to hear more on my approach to navigating the legal landscape as a clerk or junior lawyer, head over to