A small law-firm bonus, or a small-law-firm bonus?
It was almost two weeks ago that I, still fat from Thanksgiving turkey, wondered publicly about the status of bonuses at small law firms. Well, it’s time to get the results of that status check.
I recall Elie using the term “anemic” to describe Cravath’s bonus numbers (which were looking like the standard for Biglaw bonuses this year — at least until Cahill came along). Given that, I can only think the term “uber-anemic” is in order here.
A small law-firm bonus, or a small-law-firm bonus?
While Biglaw types may or may not have had something to be thankful for over the holiday weekend, many small firm lawyers were feeling the Thanksgiving love via the SoloSez list serve.
There were numerous magnanimous emails coming through about what small firm lawyers are thankful for. I found myself wondering whether these warm-and-fuzzy feelings resulted from pure happiness — or whether they might reflect cold hard cash, in the form of small-firm bonuses.
So let’s gather some data about bonuses at small law firms….
In addition to talk of bonuses and layoffs, another topic that instills fear in associates is partnership prospects. A couple of weeks ago, we asked you how current partnership prospects at your firm compared to last year, and how your firm treats associates who are passed over for partnership.
Forty-seven percent of respondents report that the chances of making partner are worse than last year, 42% say they are about the same, and 11% indicate that prospects are better.
First, the bad news: the percentage of respondents who say that prospects are worse is significantly larger among the senior associates who are either up for partner or nearing partnership consideration. For example, 66% of the Class of 2002 report that making partner is less likely than last year, as do 58% of the Class of 2003, and 55% of respondents who graduated before 2002 (which may include some current partners). Maybe it’s just the nerves talking, but it could also be that eighth year associates and beyond have a better grasp of reality than, say, Class of 2010 associates.
Members of the “lost generation” who managed to snag those elusive Biglaw offers are generally being viewed as welcome additions to their firms. According to our survey results, the majority of respondents report that Class of 2009 and 2010 associates started on time, and have enough billable work.
Although most of the more senior associates think the first-year associates will be cut first if the economy heads south again, a number of newbies are actually very confident about their job security. (That’s especially true of first-years at this New York firm.)
If you’re in Biglaw, chances are that not all of the first-year associates currently working at your firm are of the fresh-out-of-law-school-and-still-tan-from-post-bar-trip variety. With many firms just now welcoming back some Class of 2009 associates after a yearlong deferral, Class of 2010 associates have to wait their turn to start work in 2011 or 2012. But now that the great recession is over, surely business has picked up enough so that there is plenty of doc review and due diligence to go around for first-year associates, right? Or is work still so slow that the more senior associates have to hoard all the grunt work?
In this week’s survey, we want to know whether the first-year associates at your firm are being welcomed with open arms, or viewed as the competition…
We hear lots of stories about screamers — the abusive partners that all associates dread getting assignments from. But what about those partners that associates seek out — the ones who are good mentors, who give younger lawyers pointers about how to become better lawyers?
This week our ATL / Lateral Link survey asks you to take a minute to nominate the partner you most like to work for — and tell us why. Don’t worry, you won’t be asked for your name, so give your honest feedback. We’ll tally the data and in the coming weeks, we will present the top partners to work for throughout the country…
A recent study by economists at UC Berkeley gives employers a nice argument for keeping salaries a secret. Well, luckily for you, I’m not your employer. Therefore I have no qualms about sharing with you Part 2 of the results from our small-firm salary survey.
In your emails following Part 1, many of you asked that I take the practice experience element of the survey and show how it correlates to salary. Good point. I actually had that in mind from the start, but ended up pushing it into my Part 2 draft when I decided to split up the post.
But you don’t care; you just want the numbers. So, with the final caveat that I’m sure I’ll never be able to fully satiate your salary hunger, here’s the latest snack…
In part 1 of the results of the Associate Morale Survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, we revealed that 74% of respondents felt that associate morale was either the same or worse than last year. Though not entirely surprising, this result is troubling, given that low employee morale is not helpful to the economic recovery.
What, then, can firms do to boost struggling associate morale? The top solution, according to 67% of survey respondents, is for firms to be more open and transparent about decisions that affect associates. The next most popular option is for firms to unfreeze salaries and/or reverse pay cuts, cited by 44% of respondents. So to our Biglaw partner readers, remember that a little candor can go a long way with associates, and salary cuts and freezes are so 2008.
Biglaw salaries are no secret. You can find numbers all over the internet, including places like oh, I don’t know, Above the Law (not just the home page, but also the Career Center).
But what about information for everyone else? You already know what I made during my time at a small firm, but that doesn’t really help unless you’re looking for a job at my old firm (surprise, they’re not hiring).
Those looking to smaller firm options need information — law students especially. The OCI music has stopped, and there are plenty of people left standing. The good news is that there are other places to sit down. The bad news is that nobody can tell whether sitting in those seats will earn them enough to keep their creditors at bay.
With that and a general interest in the dissemination of information in mind, please take this short survey, so I can begin compiling some hard numbers on small firm salaries. As always, survey responses are kept completely confidential. I’ll sort, analyze and package the results in some kind of eye-pleasing manner.
Please click HERE to take the SURVEY. And please pass the survey along to any of your friends at small firms; the more responses I get, the more accurate and reliable the findings will be.
If you’d like to offer any other salary-related information or clever commentary, or have tips or story suggestions, please email me at Little Richard at gmail dot com. Thanks!
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.