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?
Earlier this month, we surveyed you to find out how satisfied you were with your 2010 year-end bonus. Half of all associates whose firms had announced bonus payments reported dissatisfaction with their year-end bonuses.
In today’s survey, we want to find out how many of you are actually going to put your money where your mouth is and leave your firm after collecting your bonus (whether due to dissatisfaction with your bonus or just general unhappiness with your firm). Or has all the recent buzz about springtime bonuses encouraged you to stick around for a while? As always, your responses are kept completely confidential.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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