Recently I served on a panel for lawyers about the importance of speaking up for and asking for what they want and deserve. I shared a personal story about how a salary negotiation gave me something arguably much more valuable than more money and how what I thought was a failure ended up being a big win.

Given that so many of the lawyers gave me feedback that my story had inspired and motivated them, I want to take a moment to share it with you too.

So over the years, I’ve developed a lot of strategies for and have had great success in negotiating salaries throughout my professional career (and because of my passion for developing courage and self-confidence, negotiating higher salaries and raises are something I often help my clients achieve, especially female clients).

Almost every time I’ve asked for more, I got what I asked for (or close to it). The only time I did not get anything more than what was initially offered to me was when I was a new lawyer receiving one of my first law firm job offers.

I tried to negotiate for more (which I believe people should do if they can make a compelling case for it), but the partner who made me the offer would not budge despite my attempts. Since the initial offer was a very good one, I accepted the position and ended up working for that partner.

At the time of those discussions, I was disappointed that my attempts to get a higher salary had failed, but I later realized that it gave me a big win more valuable than the additional money I was seeking. It was only after I had worked with that partner for years and had established a strong relationship with her that she shared with me that in all of her years interviewing tons of lawyer candidates, I was the only female associate she interviewed who ever tried to negotiate for more than what was offered. (That shocked me!)

She said that though she did not ultimately give me what I asked for, she gained a tremendous amount of respect for me from that point forward for valuing myself and having the courage to ask for more. Because of the respect I earned from her, she went above and beyond to help me grow as a new lawyer at the outset of my career and became a mentor to me. She had a brilliant legal mind and was an outstanding strategist so I learned a ton from her.

Because of the mentorship I received from her, I know that I gained something much more valuable than the additional money I sought in that initial salary negotiation conversation. It also helped me build my “confidence muscles” so I would continue to always ask for more in subsequent jobs and with which I ultimately had a lot of success.

So the moral of the story is to believe you are worthy, have the courage to ask for more (even if you’re terrified internally!) and make your case and ask for what you think you deserve. It’s always a worthwhile effort because even if you don’t get what you ask for and think you failed, you may be winning in a much bigger way.

And since we help arm our clients with the right strategies for successful salary negotiations, if you ever need support with any of that down the line, please reach out and we’d be glad to help!