Paralegals living in the city can be paid twice as much as those working in the suburbs. Is threatening to go into exile in the city a good strategy to negotiate your salary? The president and founder of the Novea legal recruitment firm, Marie-Ève Altur, is not so sure.
In fact, according to a salary scale published by Novea Recrutement, which relies on 80 legal firms in Montreal and the region, the paralegals of the largest offices of the city with more than 10 years of experience achieve an annual income of $100,000 and more, while for those in small and medium firms of the city and suburbs this amount ranges between $60,000 and $70,000.
Even if job seekers are reluctant to do so, the president of Novea Recrutement believes that opportunities that arise outside the city should be seized. “The legal field is highly competitive. There is only one hundred positions on the island in a year, while there are thousands of graduates,” comments Marie-Ève Altur. Eventually, she says, experience acquired and the openness shown by the candidate will give them greater bargaining power.
Your long-term potential, the time spent on your cases, your reputation, achievements, stability and bilingualism are also factors taken into account by firms during salary negotiations. Specialization is also essential. So Marie-Ève Altur suggests taking advantage of various training sessions offered in the paralegal field, including those of the Canadian Association of Paralegals. “These are assets that let the employee have arguments for negotiating their salary,” she says.
Preparing your arguments
It can also be relevant to do research to avoid demanding too high a salary. For this purpose, salary guides published by recruitment agencies are good references. “The candidate must be prepared and able to explain why he deserves this salary,” the recruitment specialist believes, by indicating in passing that it is preferable to consult several guides, since these are based on the statistics of each firm.
In addition, most firms offer pay equity scales. So, be careful of those who aim too high… or are too eager. It is advisable to have acquired two or three years of experience before entering the wonderful world of salary negotiation.
Leave or stay?
Unfortunately, to get a higher salary, it is sometimes necessary to resign yourself to changing firms. According to Marie-Ève Altur, this is sometimes more strategic than accepting a 2% increase each year. “It must be taken into consideration that an employer who has an urgent need to fill and who is interested in the application from a paralegal will be more open to giving the salary desired,” she explains.
Certain limits must of course be respected. “If you change jobs every two years just to get a pay increase, it ruins your credibility and job stability,” warns the founder of Novea Recrutement. Thus, an individual’s reputation should always prevail over an offer that seems enticing in the short term…