I know that all of you have been anxiously awaiting the results of the salary survey. I had envisioned the results post to be equal in excitement to the results shows for American Idol or Dancing With The Stars. Indeed, in anticipation of this monumental post, I commissioned a group of MIT grad students to perform a regression analysis, do a double-blind sampling, and make colorful pie charts. Unfortunately, that dream cannot be realized today. I take partial responsibility for the survey design, but going forward please include salary information if you chose to participate in a salary survey and designate your location with specificity (e.g. not “the South” or “California” or “an NFL market”).
It is not all bad news for you. I have some good news.
The good news:
• A few trends emerged;
• The majority of respondents were unhappy with their compensation (maybe not good, but consistent);
• I can tell you with high accuracy the salary information for a few third year associates in various cities; and
• I learned a few new curse words.
Now that I have successfully managed expectations, let’s look at the results after the jump.
Back in 2009, when killing lockstep was all the rage, a number of large law firms announced that they would be moving to some form of a merit-based compensation system. Now that we’re a few years into those systems, how many firms have stuck with the plan? And which systems do associates prefer?
Of the 86 distinct Biglaw firms at which survey respondents work, 63% of the firms pay base salaries on a lockstep system, and the remaining 37% of firms use a merit-based system or hybrid-lockstep system for paying base salaries. The vast majority of respondents, 70%, say they prefer the lockstep model for base salaries because of its transparency and predictability.
For year-end bonuses, 70% of the firms utilize a merit-based or hybrid-lockstep system, while 30% have a lockstep system based either on class year or billable hours. According to 62% of respondents, the most preferred type of year-end bonus allocation system is a merit-based or hybrid-lockstep system.
After the jump, find out how various combinations of compensation systems measure up against market.
In the throes of the recession, many Biglaw firms jumped on the bandwagon to kill lockstep compensation in favor of a more merit-based system (though some have already fallen off the bandwagon). With a variety of compensation models currently in use among firms today, we want to hear from you about how you get compensated at your firm — and how you prefer to get compensated.
Please take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and tell us how you are compensated at your firm. Then check back later for the survey results. As always, your survey responses will be kept completely confidential.
If work is slow and you need a good chunk of hours to meet your billable target or to be eligible for a bonus, what’s your best bet for boosting your billables?
According to the 884 respondents to Tuesday’s survey, pro bono work. About 68% of respondents say their firms give billable credit for at least some pro bono hours. On the other hand, only 12% of respondents say that their firms count client/business development activities as billable time, although another 15% report that these hours may affect bonus decisions.
What are some of the other popular billable activities?
Lately, many of you have been quite the busy billers, even working on MLK Day and Presidents Day. What undoubtedly keeps most associates on the clock on holidays (and pretty much every day of the year) is client billable work.
But are there other kinds of activities for which your firm will give you billable hour credit? Take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and tell us what counts as billable time at your firm. Then check back later this week for the survey results.
Thank you for all your responses (or attempted responses) to this week’s Career Centersurvey on whether or not you worked on Presidents Day. We received 715 responses before the flood of respondents managed to take the survey offline.
Based on the responses we did receive, the majority of respondents – 73% – reported working on Presidents Day, up from 66% who reported working on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Almost half of these respondents indicated that their firm does not recognize Presidents Day as an official firm holiday, and 38% said that although no one asked them to do work, they had stuff that needed to get done.
What were some of the other reasons given for working on Presidents Day?
In Part 1 of the Career Center survey results on debt, we reported that 85% of the 3,700 survey respondents have outstanding student loan debt, with more than half of them owing $100,000 or more. We also found that 75% of respondents considered their debt at least as much as other factors when deciding on where to work. Today, we’ll take a look at a further breakdown of these numbers by job sector and amount of debt.
But first, let’s examine the extremes: respondents with the most debt, and respondents with no debt….
We received an overwhelming number of responses – 3,700 – to last week’s Career Center survey on debt and how it contributes to your decision on where to work. We will introduce an overview of the results today, and present a more detailed analysis later in the week.
Overall, 93% of respondents report being in some kind of debt. And for the vast majority of them, that debt plays a role in their decision on where to work:
38% of respondents said they considered debt about as much as other factors.
37% said they considered debt more than any other factor.
24% said debt contributed very little or did not contribute at all.
Not too long ago – you know, when Biglaw firms were begging law students to work for them, no one cared about law school transparency, and having a J.D. guaranteed you a long and prosperous career – signing yourself up for six figures of crushing law school debt didn’t seem like such a big deal. Nor was it unheard of back then for first-year associates to buy nice big houses. But in the aftermath of the recession, many attorneys have to face the now onerous consequences of decisions they made in better economic times.
In today’s Career Center survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, we want to know how your debt currently affects your decision on where you work or want to work. Is it Biglaw or bust? Or are you able to turn a blind eye to your debt and find more compelling reasons to work where you want to?
Please take our short survey and then check in next week for the results.
In Tuesday’s survey, we asked whether you left your firm after collecting your 2010 year-end bonus (paid in December for 43% of respondents).
About 14% of respondents reported jumping ship after their bonus checks cleared, while another 8% were in such a hurry to leave that they couldn’t bother waiting around for their bonus money.
That means the vast majority of respondents, 77%, are staying put — at least for now. About 9% are sticking around a little longer in the hope that their firms up the ante with a spring bonus payment. Another 18% say they aren’t leaving, but sure wish they could. Finally, 50% of all respondents report that they are staying at their firms because they are actually quite content at the moment.
Which class years and practice groups are most likely to see post-bonus departures?
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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