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You finish law school. You pass the bar. Suddenly, you need a job.
Your problem: The offer that comes in is $10,000 less than what you need to pay student loans, rent, and eat. Fear not: That's just a jumping off point to start salary (or any other) negotiations.
How One Recent Grad Did It
Straight out of law school, Maria Musolino was in the same situation: She knew how much money she needed to survive, and the in-house counsel offer she received just wasn't enough.
But she also realized that jobs were scarce. "I was inclined to take the job, but I had every reason to believe that I was worth more," she recalls.
Maria agreed to take the job at the offered salary on the condition that the company agree to reviews with guaranteed raises after three months and six months. If her employers were satisfied with her work, they would give her the money. If they weren't satisfied with her work, they could show her the door.
The strategy paid off. For six months, her company received budget-friendly legal services; after that time, they paid Maria the salary that they both knew she deserved. Both sides won.
3 Tips for Lawyer Salary Negotiations
When you head into salary negotiations, Maria suggests keeping three things in mind.
The salary and benefits song-and-dance starts anew with each job, so be prepared to employ similar negotiating tactics for future jobs. From Maria's perspective, there's no such thing as a lateral move; if you're a strong negotiator, there never has to be.
Editor's Note, March 29, 2015: This post was originally published in March 2013. It has since been updated.