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Author Topic: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much  (Read 2138 times)

kcbnme

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Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« on: February 17, 2009, 08:44:19 PM »
So, just looking for some advise from people who have "been there, done that."

I am a 2L at a tier 1, lower 25% of tier 1, law school.  My grades my first year were not so hot.  But summer grades and last fall, much better.  I've hit my groove, feel more comfortable, etc.  But I worried about my first year grades, obviously.

Anyway, I have landed a paid internship, but I think the salary is incredibly low.  HOWEVER, advancement opportunities are great.  So I took it.  Only $10 an hour.  Personally, though I know it is low, I have a paid internship while many friends are unable to find an internship, period, or only have unpaid, or even worse, are unpaid interns who are nothing more than glorified receptionists.  I do legal work, write complaints, etc.  So, IS the salary way low?  How long should I work before asking for an increase?  BTW...I work between 15-20 hours a week, and am free to take a day off if needed for school, etc. so very flexible.  And a private firm, if that makes a difference.  I feel, from the set-up of the firm and comments he has made that if I continue to do work he likes, it will lead to permanent employment.  Additionally, he has firms in many states and wants to expand.  So, again if he likes me and I get a job, there are many possibilities in the firm.

Should I just stick it out with a low salary, or go for more?  I think low to begin with to see if I was going to be worth it, if you kwim.

Thanks...

bryan9584

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2009, 09:03:35 PM »
I want to begin by prefacing that I am a 1L and am stating what I believe to be my opinion

First, Salary seems to be based on how big the firm is. If you can get a Summer Associate at a big law firm you will make big bucks, but if you can't you are stuck with lower paying jobs and even unpaid. From what I have seen, for non SA gigs, the pay is not that great, especially if it is a small firm. I'm interviewing for a job next month for a 1 man firm and it pays 15 an hour and I have seen other jobs around that.

Second, it never hurts to get your foot in the door somewhere. You can show that you are a hard, competent worker that might get you a permanent job while others are still searching. So a little sacrifice might pay off in the long run. Also, you might be able to go halfway through the summer, once you learn the ropes and initial training costs are over, go and ask for a small raise (especially if you see that the firm is billing you out for a lot of money, as a guess I would say that you should be paid 1/3-1/4 of how much you are billed out for, the rest going to overhead and firm profit).

Just curious, did you begin this internship? Is the situation going to be different during summer? These are things you could take into consideration. Also, you could look for another job and use it as leverage to get a raise as long as you are sincere about it and not look like an ass.

And finally, it might depend on your circumstances. If you could afford the lower wage, then it might be okay. However you might want to try and find out what the pay is like for permanent employees.

Hope that helped, even though I feel like I just reiterated and agree with a lot of what you already believed

kcbnme

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2009, 09:09:25 PM »
Thanks for the reply...I have begun the internship.  I started last week, actually.  He didn't find anyone he wanted through OCI, which really helps me since my grades were not good as a 1L.  I really don't regret taking the job, since I know the job market is bad right now and I am thankful just to have an internship.  And really, I am an Intern, and not an Associate, if that makes sense.  He wants me to stay on through the end of law school, "at least" he says.  And before this, I wasn't working at all, so any money is more than I had before, kwim?  And most importantly, my foot is in the door.  BUT...I don't want to give him my hard work either, kwim?

bryan9584

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2009, 09:28:23 PM »
I might not be familiar with the lingo, but what does "kwim" mean? And what do you mean by the last sentence that you don't want to give him your hard work either?

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2009, 11:00:06 PM »
"KWIM" = "Know what I mean."  But, OP uses it far too much.

As far as the OP's dilemma goes, I think that you need to really be more specific with what you're asking. 

Are you asking that should you stick with this internship despite the low pay?  Or are you asking that should you try and get another internship which pays more?  Or, are you asking that should you be more aggressive and ask your boss for more money?

Or, is this about your possible future employment as a lawyer at this firm?

At least I don't think it's clear what you're trying to ask/say.

I mean, hypothetically, you may be getting paid $10.00/hr now but, if you secure employment as a lawyer at this firm, you may be getting paid six figures.  That would change what people had to say about this situation.  Of course, I'm not trying to insinuate that this is the case.  I'm just saying that it's not clear what you're asking and I don't think we have enough information.

Additionally, do you like the firm?  Do you like the practice areas?  Is this a place where you'd WANT to work upon graduation?  If so, then I think sticking through with the internship is your best bet despite the "low" pay (I put it in "" because, as you mentioned, some people aren't even getting paid anything!).  But if you don't like the firm, and you wouldn't really care to work there anyway, then that would indicate that maybe you want to look for another internship.

So, in short, give us more information!  =D

PS -- It does sound like a good situation for the school year since they let you take time off whenever you need to.

kcbnme

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009, 11:00:27 PM »
kwim = know what I mean

What I mean is I don't want to give him my hard work, in that if the job I do should demand a higher salary, I don't want to keep working for very little.  For instance, the case I am working on now is a 1.5 million case.  If they agree to the settlement, he gets 40%, and I get $10 an hour...make sense?  I don't mind working for less, but if I start doing things that should command a higher salary, then I should get that.  Get paid for what you do, sort of situation.

kcbnme

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2009, 11:03:57 PM »
Okay, will try to use kwim less often:)

And I love the firm, but again, I am new there.  I could see myself staying on as a career, thus why I already accepted the job at the low pay.

I guess my question was more along the lines of, is this REALLY low pay for an intern, or is it just me thinking it might be?  I know the long-term investment, etc. but if this is way below the "going rate" for an intern, I might discuss it with him.  And I also wanted to know, at what point do you go in and ask for more money, assuming I stick with the $10 for now and don't talk to him?  Summer, when I am available to work more hours?  When I start doing a certain kind of work?  Wondering what the protocol for a wage increase is, I guess.

I can see him starting interns out low because if they can't do the job, or don't produce quality work, then why pay them more.  But so far he is quite pleased with my work, and if he continues to be quite pleased with my work, then is it okay to ask for more money?

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2009, 12:33:28 AM »
Okay, will try to use kwim less often:)

And I love the firm, but again, I am new there.  I could see myself staying on as a career, thus why I already accepted the job at the low pay.

I guess my question was more along the lines of, is this REALLY low pay for an intern, or is it just me thinking it might be?  I know the long-term investment, etc. but if this is way below the "going rate" for an intern, I might discuss it with him.  And I also wanted to know, at what point do you go in and ask for more money, assuming I stick with the $10 for now and don't talk to him?  Summer, when I am available to work more hours?  When I start doing a certain kind of work?  Wondering what the protocol for a wage increase is, I guess.

I can see him starting interns out low because if they can't do the job, or don't produce quality work, then why pay them more.  But so far he is quite pleased with my work, and if he continues to be quite pleased with my work, then is it okay to ask for more money?

I think you need to get this whole idea of "going rate" for interns out of your head completely.  (1) I'm not sure there is such a thing as a "going rate" for internships with smaller/medium sized firms (they play by different rules when compared to the big law firms [who, i believe, don't even have year long "internships"]); (2) Just focus on the long-term investment of this internship.  Seriously, how much difference is making, say another $10.00/hr, going to make when it comes to your future?  Probably not much.  You should focus on doing a really good job for this attorney, but above all, LEARNING the practice of law.

I am also a little bit disheartened by the comment that the attorney would make something like 40% off of a huge deal, and you think it's unfair that you only get paid $10.00/hr.  He's an ATTORNEY; no matter what work you do on this case, I'm sure he's done a lot more.  He's taken all the risk in this case.  He's built a reputation that even allows him to take on such large cases.  He's the one who has counseled the clients, etc.

I know you're really only asking about the current market value for your services.  I don't think there's such a thing.  For what it's worth, I was working as a "Law clerk" (glorified secretary) at a small law firm PRIOR to going to law school.  I started out at $12.00/hr but after a few months they thought I was doing a good job and bumped me to $16.00/hr (I didn't ask or anything).  It would be weird if I had to go to $10.00/hr considering now that I have "more" education under my belt, but that really wouldn't be my concern.  I would just see this as an opportunity where you get PAID to learn and hone necessary lawyering skills.

My perspective; bottom-line:

(1) Be glad you have a PAID anything.
(2) Use the opportunity to LEARN about how to practice.
(3) Use the opportunity to FIGURE OUT what area of the law you may want to practice in (of course, this wouldn't be comprehensive).
(4) Perform FANTASTICALLY.

It sounds like a good opportunity, be focused more on the intangibles instead of the pay (partly because there really isn't an answer to your inquiry).

Good luck!  Let us know how it works out.

linquest

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2009, 06:11:01 AM »
"I'm not sure there is such a thing as a "going rate" for internships with smaller/medium sized firms (they play by different rules when compared to the big law firms [who, i believe, don't even have year long "internships"])"

This is true.  Small firms vary a lot depending on type of practice, size, and location.  For comparison, I got paid between $15-20/hour when I interned with solos/small firms.  These were in areas with a very high cost of living, so I'd imagine that rates would be lower elsewhere.  I have classmates that have interned for free-I think it's unfair for private firms to demand that, but they're able to in this market.

Sometimes, the employer honestly doesn't know what the "market rate" is.  On my first internship (not a firm), my boss asked me why they had trouble recruiting from my school.  I told him that two similar orgs were paying $X more.  He was shocked- they'd been paying the same rate for several years and just hadn't thought much about intern compensation.  Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you might not be stuck at $10/hour the entire time.  He might move you up after seeing what you can do.  If not, you might be able to negotiate later by finding similar firms that pay more.

Let's be honest- there are many jobs where you could get paid more.  Some of those jobs won't even require advanced education.  But those jobs likely won't do much for you in terms of building your skills, resume or legal network.  It can't just be about the money.   
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TTom

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Re: Salary question...I searched and found some info but not much
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2009, 02:00:53 PM »
So, just looking for some advise from people who have "been there, done that."

I am a 2L at a tier 1, lower 25% of tier 1, law school.  My grades my first year were not so hot.  But summer grades and last fall, much better.  I've hit my groove, feel more comfortable, etc.  But I worried about my first year grades, obviously.

Anyway, I have landed a paid internship, but I think the salary is incredibly low.  HOWEVER, advancement opportunities are great.  So I took it.  Only $10 an hour.  Personally, though I know it is low, I have a paid internship while many friends are unable to find an internship, period, or only have unpaid, or even worse, are unpaid interns who are nothing more than glorified receptionists.  I do legal work, write complaints, etc.  So, IS the salary way low?  How long should I work before asking for an increase?  BTW...I work between 15-20 hours a week, and am free to take a day off if needed for school, etc. so very flexible.  And a private firm, if that makes a difference.  I feel, from the set-up of the firm and comments he has made that if I continue to do work he likes, it will lead to permanent employment.  Additionally, he has firms in many states and wants to expand.  So, again if he likes me and I get a job, there are many possibilities in the firm.

Should I just stick it out with a low salary, or go for more?  I think low to begin with to see if I was going to be worth it, if you kwim.

Thanks...

A few thoughts. First, congratulations on getting paid work at a firm. Ten bucks an hour is low, but it's still something and I'm sure many of your classmates and other students across this country would kill for it. Times are tough.

As far as getting more money, I don't think that's even a remote possibility for now. You might want to discreetly ask first year associates what you could expect if given an offer for when you graduate.

At the very least you are getting very good experience. If you think you're worth more money, participate in your school OCI your 3L year. Your grades will be better plus you'll have firm experience under your belt.

One last thought, by tier 1 do you mean 1-50 or the rather confusing and new 1-100? If you meant 1-50, I think this just goes to show how tough things are out there.