A recent survey asked respondents about the bases for raises to their in-house lawyers. By far the dominant reason was “merit,” with 94% of the respondents checking that reason. A lawyer perceived as adding more value to the company deserves a fatter paycheck.
Next came promotions, at 80%, where rising to a new level brings with it a salary bump. Third, “market-based equity” at 46% means that HR and the general counsel determine that someone’s pay lags what comparable lawyers make at other departments. Fourth, discretionary pay increases at 29% were far more common than “employee’s skills” (11%), “experience” (8%), “cost of living” (5%), and “tenure” (1%).