Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, August 17, 2009

Negotiating beyond salary once you get an ASP job offer

I wanted to follow up on Rebecca's excellent posting this summer about job hunting in ASP.  A number of positions have been posted over the summer.  Some of those positions may still be "in the works."  There may be a domino effect during the next few weeks as people are selected for those positions and give notice at their current law schools.  The domino effect may also bring about postings for positions to start in January.

Rebecca talked about the reality that many schools do not have a great deal of latitude when it comes to salary.  I have certainly found that statement to be true.  A few thousand dollars may be the maximum room for negotiation.  Some schools with budgetary constraints may have zero room to negotiate on salary.

However, you want to consider other items that are not salary exactly but can add up to additional money or other pluses.  Each law school differs as to flexibility depending on its status or procedures (public or private, geographic location, size of law school, budget system, and other traits).  Even if some of these ideas are not relevant to your negotiations, there may be other creative approaches that would be.

Obviously, you will have the most opportunity to garner additional funding, time,or title resources if you have a strong resume and some experience in ASP.  However, if a law school really wants you to become their ASP professional, it will give you more bargaining power in all circumstances.  A mentor told me years ago that negotiating power is greatest when you have not yet accepted the postion; after that, you lose a great deal of your clout.

  • Explore whether there are additional ways that you can be paid for duties that are related but not currently in the salary:
    •  Inclusion as a paid faculty member or administrator for a summer program for 1L students who are enrolled in a conditional/unconditional summer law school course required for their admission.
    • Bar preparation workshops if none exist at your school. 
    • Ability to teach a section of a 1L or elective course in your field of expertise as an instructor or adjunct professor in future semesters/summers.
  • Consider requesting a title change or the addition of a teaching status (instructor or adjunct) to the administrative title.  There may not be the ability for an official title change because of structured personnel grades.  However, a title change might be possible for both internal and external use.  Although no money will follow, it may affect your status now and in future job hunts. 
  • Explore whether you will be provided with a travel/professional development allowance so that you can attend conferences and purchase professional books for your own use.  Some law schools do this for all faculty and administrators.  Other law schools are more restrictive in their inclusion, but may be willing to negotiate. 
  • Explore whether you are eligible for budget funds for Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, work study students, or others who can assist in your workload even when you have no official secretary or other staff.
  • Discuss whether you can receive an additional moving expense allowance:
    •  This request is especially effective if they want you there quickly for the start of a semester or before too many weeks go by in the semester.
    • Ask for a larger dollar allowance if a set amount is given and explain why the allowance is inadequate (distance of move, turn around allowing less selection of movers, or other matters).
    • Ask for the law school to pay to have your belongings packed by the movers as well as moved so that you can arrive more quickly and begin work sooner.
    • Ask the law school to pick up the storage tab in your new city if you will not have time to buy/rent a house and will be in temporary quarters for several months.
    • Ask the law school to pick up additional costs that may result from your having to break a lease without sufficient notice. 
    • Moving expense allowances are sometimes calculated for the young professional without family responsibilities or many belongings.  If you own a house full of furniture and/or have family to move, ask for your differing circumstances to be recognized. 
  • Discuss whether there are any special mortgage or other benefits provided by the university or law school that may be helpful to you.  For example, a local bank had extended to our law faculty a lower mortgage interest rate the semester prior to my negotiations.  A telephone call from my dean meant that I was allowed to be considered belatedly which has saved significantly on my mortgage.
  • Keep in mind healthcare costs.  Some law schools have university-wide plans that do not start immediately upon arrival.  You may be able to negotiate having your interim COBRA payments reimbursed.
  • Consider negotiating research leave that will be salaried but will not count as vacation time if you have a legal field expertise that you want to continue (whether or not you will be able to teach those courses).  The semester break or summer may be the best times to agree to take this type of allowance.
  • Ask for assistance in introducing your spouse/partner to contacts in the community for his/her job hunting. Law schools are often well-connected in the local community beyond just law. 

You will need to decide which of these negotiation strategies will work in your favor in your particular circumstances.  One or two additional items can help financially or improve your workload within the law school or status for future job hunts.  (Amy Jarmon)

Job Descriptions, Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink

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