In October, I got to speak about two topics that mean a lot to me as a coach: equipping women to advance in their careers, on their own terms; empowering lawyers to negotiate salary arising from a job offer and during a performance review.
Women in Law
The speaking engagement with the Law Society of Ontario was an emotional moment for me since it represented the culmination of my work in creating and curating resources for the Women’s Resource Centre. The launch took place on October 24, 2023 with a panel discussion, followed by a reception. Hearing from the personal experiences of Jessica Latimer (Associate General Counsel of the Power Workers’ Union), Kristin Taylor (Managing Partner at Cassels, Brock & Blackwell LLP), and Deborah Moriah (Paralegal and owner of Moriah Paralegal) was inspiring to me as their stories brought to life the resources I had worked on for more than a year. From career advancement and salary negotiation, to making a career transition and the importance of mentorship/sponsorship, the panel opened up about their struggles and successes. You can watch the program recording for free and get 2 hours of Professionalism Content!
Making Sense of Compensation
This panel with the Toronto Lawyers Association was held on October 19, 2023. Panelists included Norman Bacal (former managing partner of Henein Blaikie, now author and consultant), Faren Bogach (owner of Construct Legal) and Travis Usher (ZSA partner). The topics were varied. Norman spoke about the law firm model and how the real issue for associates is cash conversion. Associates should multiply their salary by 3 to come up with how much they should collect from clients to be profitable to a firm. It’s always important for an associate to understand the business side of things no matter where they practice.
Travis spoke about salary ranges in-house and for private practice. He shared information from ZSA’s salary guide. I, personally, also like using Robert Half’s salary guide because it is a bit more granular. Travis spoke about signing bonuses being less common now than they were in the hiring frenzy during the pandemic. He emphasized that salaries and bonus structures among the big, and even medium size, firms are predictable and transparent (i.e. 20-30% bonus in large firms; less than 20% bonus in medium firms). For small firms, salary and bonus vary so much that it is impossible to even provide a range.
Faren spoke about her personal experience working at Big Law; she has not been shy about sharing her challenges and the reasons for starting her own law firm. Her current business model is based on profit sharing, a maximum billable target and joke of the day contest!
I provided tips on how to advocate for oneself when it comes to annual reviews. I talked about a process of collecting accomplishments throughout the year in a folder (whether electronically or hardcopy) so that preparing for a review isn’t a mad dash to review 12 months of work overnight. Many of my clients follow a system. I follow it myself and shared how I conduct a quarterly review to consider my accomplishments and goals as the year progresses so that I can have control over their direction and improvement. I take an afternoon off at the end of each quarter to review the goals I have set out from my Career Planner Workbook. I talked about how these two processes go hand in hand to allow my clients to prepare for their performance reviews like a boss!
I also shared stories of one client asking for, and getting, a raise for the first time after two maternity leaves in a small law firm setting. I shared another story of a client successfully negotiating salary from a job offer from a mid-size firm. This year, I also helped an associate at a small firm negotiate a significant salary increase after being refused several times.
These speaking engagements were a nice way to start winding down my year and to start reflecting on 2023. I’ll be taking some time off in December to do more of that and look forward to reconnecting with you in 2024.
If you’re looking for assistance with an upcoming annual review and don’t know how to advocate for yourself, I can help you show up like a boss during a 1.5-hour one-on-one meeting with me to evaluate where you are at and where you want to be using the two guides mentioned above (Career Planner and Portfolio of Accomplishments). There are a few slots left for December and plenty more in January.