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Smaller Law Firms Struggle with Morale Issues in Bonus Decisions

Posted Dec 2, 2009 9:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The gossip mill at smaller law firms can lead to morale issues at bonus time.

The Connecticut Law Tribune notes the problem. “With just a handful of employees, it's hard to keep individual bonus totals a secret,” the story says. “That can leave a subset of employees who might be miffed and thus, distracted, if they feel shortchanged.”

Andrew Crumbie of the Crumbie Law Group in Hartford is dealing with the problem by handing out across-the-board bonuses at his nine-person office, the story says. “"At the end of the day, my staff's happiness and contentment are paramount,” he told the Law Tribune. He adds that he hands out larger bonuses to those who earn it.

John Collins III of 21-lawyer firm Suisman Shapiro in New London has a different view. He thinks failing to get a bonus can be motivating. "If someone doesn't get a bonus or gets a smaller bonus than someone else, we hope it inspires them to do something differently the following year," Collins told the legal publication.

Hartford lawyer Tony Jorgensen thinks bonuses are so important that he sometimes hands them out during a good month, rather than waiting until the end of the year. He says this year has been tough, but he plans to hand out some cash, even if it comes from his own pocket.

"Yeah, the economy has hurt us, but I want to take care of my employees,” he told the Law Tribune.

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