What can you do if you feel you are being underapid?

Posted in Latest News on 3 Jan 2024

At Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment, we run a yearly salary survey designed to examine the market and see what trends have emerged over the past year.  

Our latest one will be published soon and we have began looking at the initial data. A trend that is already emerging, is the number of people who feel they are being underpaid in the legal sector has remained constant for the third year in a row. Why is that? And can you do something about it if you feel you are being underpaid?  

So far, the percentage of people who responded to our salary survey and feel that they are being paid below the market rate is 39%; for comparison, 36% thought they were being paid below the market rate in 2023, while 38% felt that way in 2022. Despite a rapidly changing legal market, this may indicate a deeper problem. Most respondents (nearly 40%) had been in roles between a year and three years, while 25% had been in their current position for less than a year. The longer people have been in a role, the less likely they are to feel they are being paid below the market rate – but this might be because they are less likely to be aware of the current market and happy in their roles. These numbers present a fascinating picture – because it seems, year on year, a sector of the legal market feels like they aren’t being paid what they are owed for the work they do.  

So, if you feel like you are in this position, how can you improve your salary? There are some options if you feel like you aren’t being paid your true worth. The first thing is knowing your market value. There are many ways to check your salary against the market, such as online tools, speaking to friends who might be in similar roles, or even just having a conversation with a recruitment consultant about what the market rate is at the moment will allow you to have a clearer picture of where your salary stands. Especially here at Douglas Scott, we are experts in the market, and our consultants keep up to date with developing and emerging trends. Once you are sure of what you should be being paid, then it is worth having a conversation with your current employer about it. It’s important to know your worth, and be able to argue for it in your negotiations. If you feel like your employer isn’t willing to make reasonable adjustments – it's always worth seeing if there’s anything better out there. A quick job search or talking with a recruiter can help you find someone who will be able to meet the salary band that you are looking for to further your career. You need to set realistic expectations for negotiations, but it is well worth your time if you feel your salary is under market value.  

While it is encouraging to see that people are, on average, consistently feeling their pay keeps up with the market, there is still a relatively large pot of people who think their work could be more valued the same way as other people doing the same job. Firms need to be aware of this, especially if these numbers grow. If you feel like you’d benefit from a conversation about the market, reach out to one of our consultants on LinkedIn or via email, and we can arrange a chat. 

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