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Law Practice Management

Patton Boggs Changes Partner Compensation to Reward Cooperation

Posted Feb 23, 2009 2:21 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Patton Boggs is changing its partner compensation system to reward cooperation and mentoring.

Eight-five percent of compensation for equity partners will still be based on billable hours, Legal Times reports. But a compensation committee will also distribute 15 percent of profits based on factors such as associate training and mentoring, sharing business with other lawyers, and transferring clients to up-and-coming lawyers at the firm.

Law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser told Legal Times that Patton Boggs’ old system is an anachronism that discouraged business development.

The change will be phased in over two years, beginning in 2010. Managing partner Stuart Pape told Legal Times that the firm is changing the system “to provide some compensation incentive for doing things that are supportive, collaborative and productive."

Critics of the old “eat what you kill” system at Patton Boggs had complained it encouraged lawyers to hoard work. They also said it made it difficult to merge with another firm or to acquire large groups of lawyers since their compensation methods were different.

Pape told Legal Times he wouldn’t rule out a merger in the future, but nothing is being planned, and the possibility of a merger wasn’t the reason for a change.

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