Tell me if this is normal. I’m a 5th year associate, partner track for late ’21. My firm is probably called a regional midsize (50 lawyers) and 6 partners are women, a number that seems to be static through the firm’s history. Firm has lots of institutional long-term clients, associates have no emphasis on getting any new clients.
I am just now finding out that the firm is not 100% eat what you kill – partners collecting a flat percent of what they collect. I was told the firm doesn’t have originating credit. I’ve now learned, instead of a flat percent originating credit for the partner who brings in the client, the firm requires partners to individually negotiate partner comp for each deal/project/client.
Example – John, partner, has a client, Big Bank. Big Bank has a legal issue in my speciality. John calls me, as I’m the SME, and asks me to advise on the issue. John and I work out the % I will take home of the collections.
Same if Big Bank calls me directly – which happens, I speak a lot in the community – as a partner, I need to not promise Big Bank anything, call John and negotiate my % of the collection. If John doesn’t like my %, he can do the work, have someone else do it, or refer outside the firm.
I have heard that the % the working partner gets varies greatly (30-60%, for small matters even 100%), that it is “usually” between 30-50%. Also, John can write off my time as a partner without my permission, lowering the $ I end up getting.
I don’t have a problem with John deciding whether I do the work. I do have a problem with individually negotiating comp, all the time. I suspect women lose out and this contributes to why they leave. I know that one answer is building my book, so I’m going to work hard on that, but am I crazy for thinking this individual negotiation stuff isn’t normal? I feel like partnership is this secret box!