Paralegal Advice: How NOT to Ask for a Raise

Paralegal Advice: How NOT to Ask for a Raise

Paralegal Angles for Raise: A peeved paralegal wrote to “Dear Amy” with this question. You may have seen it on the Internet:


DEAR AMY: I’ve been working for a small law firm for six years now. I’m a paralegal and work up all the attorneys’ documents.

I’ve made a lot of money for the firm. Recently because of all my hard work, the firm has hired two new attorneys (one is part-time).

By accident my manager gave me the part-time attorney’s paycheck, and I was floored. She makes way more than I do!

What do you think I should do? Should I find another job or talk to my manager about getting a larger raise?

I don’t want to get the manager in trouble, but it’s just not fair that this other person is part-time and making more than I am. — Peeved Paralegal


Here is Amy’s answer — please note that The Paralegal Mentor DOES NOT agree with Amy…see my advice below.

DEAR PEEVED: I appreciate your confidence and self-assessment, but it’s possible that your firm’s success is due to more than your efforts alone.

Regardless of your opinion of your own worth, you seem to have the idea that the pay structure in your workplace should be fair — according to your calculation and relative to your own compensation.

This is not the case. The marketplace determines your worth. You are comparing apples to wheelbarrows.

Even if you could easily perform the lawyering tasks your part-time colleague performs, you and this lawyer have different educational qualifications and credentials. This lawyer’s ability to negotiate a generous compensation package for herself has nothing to do with your relative worth to the firm.

The way to negotiate for more money is not through competing with your co-workers, but by receiving an offer for a paralegal job from another firm and leveraging that into an offer for more money at your home firm.(which, by the way, would not be my answer…check back next week to read what I would say.)  Amy



Dear Peeved Paralegal: In retrospect, I wish you did not have this information. Is difficult to work when you do not feel you are being treated “fairly”.  No one has promised “fair” but what we are paid is directly related to our feelings of value.

Remember, though, that you are not comparing this information to what another paralegal is being paid. You should never compare your value to that of an attorney, part time or not, because (as Amy says), you are comparing apples to wheelbarrows.

I do not agree with Amy’s advice to look for an offer from another firm and then leverage that into an offer for more money at your current job.

Instead, I urge you to compile information about your value to the firm — number of billable hours? certification? education? longevity? skill set? If that information demonstrates you deserve a raise, schedule a meeting with your manager and use your informationto ask for an increase. If you do not get what you want, you have 2 choices: remain at your current job or look for another,

DO NOT give your employer an ultimatum you will quit if you do not receive more money unless you’re willing to make good on the ultimatum. You do not want to find yourself out in the apple orchard without a wheelbarrow!  Vicki


What is your opinion regarding this paralegal’s situation? Should she follow Amy’s advice or mine? Or do something else? Let me know.