Business of Law

Partner pay cuts, practice diversification helped law firm bounce back from the recession

Several years before the recession hit, business was booming at Fafinski Mark & Johnson.

But founding partner Robert Fafinski Jr. knew the good times weren’t going to last forever and starting thinking ahead. Expanding the firm’s bankruptcy, labor and employment and estate planning practices—as well as partner pay cuts—helped position the suburban Minneapolis law firm not only to weather the financial storm but to come back strong, the Star Tribune reports.

“Everybody here as partners made less money, but we kept everybody employed,” Fafinski said. “When the economy did come back in 2010 for us, we probably took off faster than most firms because we had the team ready to go. We’ve ended up getting rewarded for our patience.”

Known for its commercial aviation practice, which is now rebounding, the Eden Prairie firm last year saw a 25 percent leap in revenue and hired four new lawyers. It currently has 29 attorneys on its roster, the newspaper recounts, and Fafinski says he plans to add up to a dozen more over the next five years.

The firm keeps an eye on costs, operating out of a suburban building with free parking and not overpaying its associates, he also notes. The starting salary for new law graduates is $80,000; those at larger commercial firms in the area may earn $110,000 or more, the Star Tribune reported.

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