Summary: Before or during the interview process, here’s what you can do if a law firm asks about your salary expectations.
Q: What do I do if a law firm asks me about my salary expectations prior to or during the interview process?
A: This is one of the trickiest issues in terms of making a lateral move, depending on the law firms you are targeting. For the most part, major Am Law 200 firms tend to have set salaries based on class year, and so the salary question is not an issue except to the extent that a candidate and/or the firm may want the candidate to come in at a “lower” class year than their actual law school graduation year.
This can be the case if the candidate does not quite have the same level experience in a particular area to justify a certain class year or billing rate (think of a 4th year candidate who has done about half M&A and Private Equity work in their practice to date, but they are transitioning to a purely M&A group - they might be discounted a class year because only half their experience has been in M&A).