Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Title Is Everything Or Nothing

Since there isn't a lot of local legal news this morning, we'll turn to a reader question. How important is the title you have at a firm? Obviously it's better to be a partner than an associate, but what about being of counsel, or a shareholder, or something of that ilk?

What do you think? Does it matter which title you have? Does it affect how you get business?

21 comments:

  1. If I'm making the money I want to make, I don't care what you call me. If I'm not making the money I want to make, no title is going to get me to stay.

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    1. I concur with 9:20am.

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  2. Unfortunately it absolutely makes a difference to clients and prospective clients. When I was an Associate, I had the opportunity to jump firms. Obviously prospective firms wanted to know which clients would follow me. Some, but not many, with a number of comments that the clients did not feel comfortable moving with an Associate. Christmas party I was made partner. 18 months later I made a move and 95% of my clients followed me. The title of "partner" made them feel much more comfortable moving with the attorney. Really was not markedly better as an attorney.

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    1. I disagree. I have left firms as an associate and my clients were more than happy to follow me, even after I gave them the option of staying with the firm I was leaving. The difference was that the clients trusted me and had a strong rapport with me personally as their go-to person, and that was far valuable to them than the name of the firm or title of my position. Granted, my area of law (plaintiff work) may be different than ID, CD, or whatever else is out there, but I have learned that strong rapport (combined with good work product/ethic) with clients goes a long way no matter your firm name or title name.

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  3. The title "partner" for non-equity attorneys is the participation trophy of the legal profession. I was offered the title last week, but said I didn't really care one way or another, and that if the real partners thought it would generate business, I would play along.

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  4. What if your title is Voldemort?

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  5. Money matters most. Generally partner = shareholder = member, but of course people with those titles don't necessarily have equity, and it may not be clear from the title whether they do or not. Generally counsel = of counsel, and generally these are people that are: on the partnership path but not quite there for whatever reason the firm has for not giving the better title; not on the partnership path but worth keeping around because they generate revenue; are old former partners that are worth keeping on the letterhead but really don't do anything. I'd be suspicious if you're a junior attorney and you have a title other than associate. "Staff attorney" or "practice group attorney" or whatever is often just a title given to doc review monkeys that have no growth opportunities at the firm. Of course, rule 1 is that pay is what matters most, so I'd gladly take way more money regardless of title, even if I had to be a "practice group attorney" instead of a "partner."

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  6. Participation Trophy complaints - brought to you by the adults who hand out the awards, not the kids who played and lost.

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  7. AnonymousMay 30, 2017 at 9:27 AM - Dead right and it should matter to a firm as well, in terms of marketing and the confidence of clients. I've said for years, that if a firm has any reason to keep an attorney employed who is more than ten years out of law school, they should give him or her an Of Counsel title. Clients will be uncomfortable with someone more experienced working on their cases who still has only an associate title, not to mention it won't be particularly good for the attorney's morale. The title doesn't cost more than the reprinting expense of business cards.

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  8. Those distinctions between titles(such as senior partner, junior partner, senior associate, junior associate, etc.) vary in impact from firm to firm Sometimes an enhanced title or promotion means a lot in terms of additional authority and income, while at other times it is just a clever device to convince someone they are getting a much greater cut of the pie, but over time it turns out that they are not really benefitting that much.

    Also, being a paid associate(providing the compensation is decent) can often be a better deal than being promoted to a partnership--particularly if the firm is navigating through some stormy waters.

    Now it is usually the attorneys(rather than the firm) that risk being taken advantage of when titles change. But there is a key exception--that being the of counsel situation--wherein the firm usually gets burned.

    This is when the firm is stupid and naïve and buys into the bluster of the person who wants to be brought in on an "of counsel" basis. The firm believes all the rain-making claims made by the individual seeking such status.

    Now, if we are speaking about an ex U.S. Senator or ex member of U.S. House Of Reps., or ex Nevada Governor or Attorney General,
    and they still enjoy a decent reputation, that may be somebody who could attract a fair amount of business for the firm, as well as enhancing the credibility and reputation of the firm.

    However, far more often than not, the of counsel person never held such an exalted position, but instead is usually something like a former judge, who was soundly defeated in a re-election bid. Paying that person a generous six figure salary(to seldom be at work), under the theory that an ex judge will attract a lot of great business, is almost always a fool's errand.

    Eight times out of ten, of counsel status does not benefit the firm(and in fact is a drain), and only benefits the delusional pompous ass who thinks they are a major rain-maker despite losing their judgeship, or political position, by a convincing margin in the prior election.

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    1. If someone is brought in as "of counsel" it is usually a pretext to making them partner, but the firm wants to make sure they will work out before going through all the bullshit partner stuff. In other situations it is just for attorneys who are on a split.

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  9. This reminds me of an old joke - Becoming a partner is like winning a pie-eating contests where the prize is more pie.

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  10. This reminds me of the story of a well-known attorney (call him L) who stormed into another very prominent attorney's (call him V) office and demanded that L's name be placed on the door and a $25,000 raise. V said no. L then demanded just the raise. V said "How big of letters would you like on the door?"

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  11. Unrelated to today's topic, I have a question. If I have a case that is JC-level, but there's an existing DC-level case involving the same facts (such that I expect my case to be consolidated immediately), should I file in JC or DC?

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    1. Consolidation is a power held by courts of the same jurisdiction/level. The only way to consolidate would be to transfer the JC case to DC and then ask the DC to consolidate the 2 DC cases post-transfer.

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  12. It takes all kinds to make the world go around, including the lowest life form that seem to make up the majority of this profession. And it not just a Las Vegas problem.

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  13. It is sad that money drives some attorneys because some attorneys are more likely to inflate their bills to clients--because it's more money for them. I agree with 10:58 (not that 9:27 is wrong, that is his or her belief). My belief is that its "strong rapport (combined with good work product/ethic) with clients goes a long way no matter your firm name or title name." I have seen clients go with paralegals who have the rapport and do most of the work the client sees.

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  14. It is sad when a judge who presents themselves as a Democrat, is really a Republican in rooster's clothing.

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    1. I thought that was the "jaws," jerr wiese.

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    2. Can you give a specific example or ruling by a "Democrat" judge in rooster's clothing? I thought judges are non-partisan positions? I cannot think of situation wherein a judge would rule based on party lines.

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    3. Oh, my sweet summer child....

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