Thursday, November 19, 2015

Quantity v. Quality

As we near the end of the year, the topic of associate compensation is on many a lawyer's mind. Although it is too late to do anything about it this year, we'll fuel that discussion and/or add to the anxiety by asking the question below. What do you think?

Which is more important in determining associate salary?


  1. A great attorney can master both.

  2. A competent attorney should be able to do both.

  3. Yes, but we're talking about associates.

  4. I vote for a mediocre associate with great business development skills...that's partner material which should be compensated.

    1. That's certainly the typical insurance defense model where carriers really only want C+ work in exchange for paying D+ fee rates. In that field, people who build their book make partner and those that don't jump from firm to firm. In insurance defense, you develop people who can forge relationships with claim adjusters and pound out monthly status letters. Legal acumen is not typically at a premium; however, every firm needs at least one smart guy for the occasional motion, appeal, or trial preparation.

      The calculus changes with higher-stakes litigation, sophisticated transactional work, IP, and tax. In these areas, you probably want to find lawyers who are a bit more creative and astute.

      And if you can ever find a creative and astute rainmaker, make sure he or she is happy and well-compensated so he or she stays!

  5. I never hire Boyd grads.

  6. Correct answer: Girth. Always go with girth.