Lawyer Pay

Only 57 percent of new partners are satisfied with pay; they may earn less than senior associates

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For many lawyers, partnership is the brass ring they have long sought. But compensation and other aspects of partnership are not necessarily in line with their expectations.

The New Partner Survey of 425 lawyers by the American Lawyer and ALM Intelligence revealed that more than 70 percent of new partners were dissatisfied with some aspect of partnership so far.

The survey asked the lawyers what disappointed them the most about making partner. Out of 238 lawyers who answered the question, 71 were disappointed with compensation, the American Lawyer reports.

Asked to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of partnership, only 57.2 percent of new partners said they are satisfied or very satisfied with compensation. More than 10 percent were not at all satisfied with compensation, the American Lawyer reports in a separate article.

More than 10 percent also said they were not at all satisfied with two other aspects of partnerships: work-life balance as well as training and guidance. Asked to pinpoint reasons for dissatisfaction, about 10 percent identified gender bias and about 10 percent identified cronyism.

Altman & Weil consultant James Cotterman told the American Lawyer that new equity partners may get a pay boost, but their compensation is reduced because they have to pay for their own benefits, self-employment taxes and capital contributions.

One new partner who responded to the survey reported making less than most senior associates. Another complained that an end to bonuses and the need to buy shares were straining finances. “It’s really depressing and demoralizing to get a promotion and then to have to put your family on a strict monthly budget,” the partner said.

Those partners are not alone.

At many top-tier law firms, senior associates now earn $465,000 in pay and bonuses.

At a dozen of the nation’s top 200 law firms, average profits per equity partner were below $465,000, the American Lawyer reports, citing ALM data. Those firms are Bond, Schoeneck & King; Dinsmore & Shohl; Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott; GrayRobinson; Holland & Hart; Kutak Rock; Lane Powell; LeClairRyan; Littler Mendelson; Marshall Dennehey Warner, Coleman & Goggin; Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick; and Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

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