There Goes the Legal Industry: Big Firms Start Undercutting Themselves


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  • Jay

    Interesting comments. As a “senior attorney” (aka older associate) at a big law – several points hit home. My big law firm is struggling with many of these issues, just as many around the area are. But what to do? The partners all shared the paid a bit the last couple years with reduced profit sharing. Several left for greener pastures. This year they slashed fixed costs including associate pay.

    At a firm that is already very partner heavy, I’m hearing several quality associates are preparing to leave. The firm has participated in the low cost model, a bit, mostly by cutting or writing off associate time; which at this firm that is eat what you kill pay scale, results in underperforming associates. Now when there are no mid or upper level associates the work will need to be done by mostly senior partners at senior partner rates. However most of our best clients have agreed blended rate pricing schemes. Thus senior partners will either have to cut their rates in half, or lose the work.

    The question of whether the firm’s “get it”? I think our firm understands the current problem, but does not understand how to fix the current problem without weakening the firm for the next 5-10 years after several more associates and partners leave.

    The only way for an attorney to make a decent wage requires at least $600k in cash receipts and at least $300k of that from personal originations. But, if you can pull $300k origination work you can make better money on your own for half the work.