Nonequity Partners

Is Biglaw all about the benjamins?

Is being a partner that different from being an associate? Contrary to popular belief, becoming a law firm partner is not a path to instant riches. In the early years, your compensation might not be that much higher than it was when you were an associate or counsel. Your taxes might go up, you might have to pay for your own health insurance and other benefits, and you might have to buy into the partnership. Sure, you might be able to borrow the capital contribution from a bank — but remember, you’re liable on that loan, and the bank might pursue you if it doesn’t get repaid.

Our partner readers sometimes complain about the stereotype that they’re all fat cats. As one of them recently wrote, “[Please don't write] about being admitted to partnership and instantly becoming rich…. At virtually every firm, you become a partner and then start to hope that, over the course of a career, your income will increase to ‘average partner income’ and your hours will decrease to ‘average partner hours.’ Rainmakers reach that goal quickly, but many partners — perhaps a majority in most firms — spend a lifetime waiting for, and never reaching, those goals.”

Of course, that’s the subjective experience of one reader. What does the big picture show? There’s a new report out about partner pay that contains lots of interesting information….

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Cecily A. Dumas

Even though these individuals had the title of partner, they were not partners in the true sense and therefore are not subject to partner clawback claims. They shared in the downside, but they didn’t share in the upside.

Cecily Dumas, a partner at Dumas & Clark, commenting on claims made by a group of former non-equity partners at Howrey whom she now represents in the defunct firm’s bankruptcy proceedings.

(Want to see the list of ex-Howrey non-equity partners that are bringing forth these claims? Let’s take a look….)

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