Susan Smith Blakely

Women Lawyers:  Get the Raise You Want!

Last week I wrote about why women should not have to ask --- for raises and other things they want in their professional lives --- any more than men have to ask.   But, as we saw, the truth is that women do have to ask, and they need to know how to ask smartly and effectively.

For some of the best advice on this subject, I always look to Sallie Krawchek, one of the most accomplished women on and off Wall Street and one of the best mentors for women professionals.  She recently posted some salary negotiations advice on LinkedIn,  and you need to know it.  Here are some of the things Sallie Krawchek would tell you over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine --- if any of us ever got that lucky:

Do not treat getting a raise as a once-a-year exercise.  She seems to be saying that too often women treat salary discussions as routine and yearly, and you do not prepare in advance like you would for a trial or any other negotiation.  Instead, you must talk to your bosses at various times during the year about whether you are on target, what success looks like for you, your team and your department, and what is most important to your boss in the coming months.  That could be gaining new clients, it could be winning the big case, or it could be getting meaner and leaner.  Whatever it is, you need to know and understand how you fit into that picture.

Do not go into salary discussions without knowing how much you SHOULD BE earning.  If you do not know that, you surely will not know what to ask for.  Although Sallie Krawchek cites some research sources, a quick look leads me to believe that you need something more tailored to the law profession.  So, take a look at this, and this to help you figure out what you can reasonably ask for and expect.   As pointed out by Ms. Krawchek, this kind of research beats information from your friends at other firms, which may or may not be reliable --- and which may cost you a few drinks!

Don't expect karma to deliver the raise --- you have to ask.  In the words of Sallie Krawchek, " I can’t tell you how often in my experience women (men, too….but really women) simply never asked for a raise. Newsflash: karma doesn’t care about you and likely won't deliver you a raise. And not asking is a reason – not the reason, by any means, but a reason – that women continue to earn less than men."  And last but certainly not least:

Don't spend the raise.  Invest it --- or a good portion of it --- if you can.  Sallie Krawchek has a very solid investment background, and she points out that failing to invest as much as men historically has cost professional women hundreds of thousands – for some even millions – of dollars over the course of their lives and that having an investment portfolio outside the office also can give you greater confidence inside the office.

Excellent advice.  Now, do your part.  Put together a strategic plan for that raise you want and deserve, and do not blow it.  The key is to be prepared and to be smart. 

Good luck!

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