With the review season getting in full swing we thought the following points, based on a series of seminars we have been involved with for junior lawyers, might provide a good checklist for all lawyers come performance and salary review time.
1. Prepare ahead
Make sure you know what the review topics are in advance, and have the information at hand when you go in. Know what you are going to raise, and why, and keep in mind that many firms split off salary and performance discussions separately.
2. Know your target audience
Schedule your review for a good time of day for your reviewers, and try to think about the pet likes and dislikes of your reviewer/s in advance so you are ready with examples on those points. Remember, the person doing your review probably also isn’t looking forward to having their own review either!
3. Know your numbers. Part 1 – Billables
Make sure you know how you are tracking versus budget, and generally against any particular KPI’s or goals. Keep a close eye on any files you refer in, and anything you do that returns extra money into the firm. Make sure your wins are there to be acknowledged.
4. Know your numbers. Part 2 – Salary
Gather information related to your level and area of practice and type of firm in advance and be prepared to raise it when it is the appropriate time. Bear in mind that different practice areas pay differently, and that a lot of salary surveys are exaggerated or so vague as to be unhelpful. If you want specific advice you can call one of our consultants for an off the record chat.
5. Keep it short, sharp and sweet
If there are key things you want the firm to address then focus on those, rather than getting bogged down in minutia. Eg, if you are desperately in need of admin support then focus on that point rather than raising a number of less important issues. Try to keep it to 3 main things.
6. Ask what you can do to help
One of the best tips we have heard is to ask either what you can do better, or even what you can do in particular to help your partner achieve their goals next year.
7. Be balanced, listen and learn
Take it seriously, but not too seriously, judging your tone on the tone of the reviewers. And while you need to highlight your successes, be balanced and acknowledge your shortcomings and areas you want to work on.
8. Don’t be defensive
Keep the tone positive, and don’t seek out conflict. The review process is there to assist both lawyer and employer, and the hope is that at the end of it both are better prepared to achieve in the coming year.
9. Be open, but not naive
Approach it like you might a job interview, with an open mind and positive approach, but if you have a burning desire that can’t be met by your employer, it might be best left unsaid!
10. After the review
Start a spreadsheet setting out the goals you were set, and the major topics that you know will be reviewed next year. Set a diary reminder each fortnight to add to that sheet with your wins so that next year your review preparation is not only done, you will have been consciously assessing your goals each fortnight.
From the lawyers and partners we have spoken with, being well prepared, presenting with a positive attitude and communicating your points clearly seems to be the key.
For more in depth advice about how to approach your annual performance review, contact one of our specialist legal consultants:
Paul Burgess – Melbourne/VIC, Adelaide/SA
Kirsty McNay – Sydney/NSW
Doron Paluch – Perth/WA
Thomas Hobbs – Queensland, Canberra, Tasmania