Today I received my offer letter for full time employment. I officially have my offer! The annual billable requirement seems daunting but I think it's actually less than some firms. I am pleased to note that my employment terms include subsidy for a gym membership- woo hoo! Now I don't have an excuse right? (who am I kidding, I still have millions of excuses, I'm simply minus the one about the high cost of gym memberships).
Ok, so I'm hoping all of you out there who ever accepted a position for full time employment will give me some advice. The salary is ca-razy compared to what I'm used to earning --> zero. But I did expect the offer to be about 5-6K higher. Now I need to decide whether to just accept their offer or try to negotiate the salary.
Reasons to Negotiate:
First of all- what do law firms expect? They want to hire someone who will be a good lawyer right- well, I'll seem like a horrible negotiator if I simply take what they offer, right? Lawyers are expected to negotiate all the time. It's the bottom line of case management: getting a good settlement for your client. Well, I am the client here- will it look bad if I cave without a fight? Plus, I've worked for the firm for two summers, I've put in my time. I've shown them what I can do. I've already learned a lot.
Also, the job is tough and my firm has high expectations. This is mainly because the firm does only litigation. I will be a litigator and a trial lawyer. I will frequently spend extra hours at work with no additional overtime wage-yay for salary. This slightly scares me in the exciting "I'm Just About to Jump Out A Window With A Parachute, I Hope It Opens" kind of way.
Why Not to Negotiate:
Will it reflect poorly on me to throw out a counter offer? Will I seem like a high maintenance and disgruntled employee even before my start date? In reality, I AM just a first year associate and my capabilites are well below that of a trained or seasoned attorney. Will I be a drain on the firm for my first couple of months? Also, the economy sucks right now. My firm is one of the only firms actively hiring. The partners have a huge stack of resumes from qualified and experienced attorneys sitting on their desks right now- I've seen them. They don't NEED me.
Finally, I'm not good about this kind of thing. I know I'm intelligent and capable and willing to work hard, but I hate to show it. I'm confident in my abilities but the one quality I asbolutely dispise is arrogance. And I'm not very agressive when it comes to my personal needs or wants. I hate being the squeaky wheel. Negotiating will take a lot of courage and willpower. Will it make me look greedy and money hungry?
What do you think? Do I negotiate or not? Part of me feels that three years of hell, two summers of doing time and a three day bar exam entitle me to more than what they have offered. But on the other hand, it's a heck of a lot more than I'm used to earning and I can live very well off of that salary (especially in combination with my husband's). What did you do?
If I negotiate- how much higher should my counter offer be?