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Category Archives: Compensation

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Notes from the 2012 Futures Conference of the College of Law Practice Management: Part 1

Posted in Books, Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Diversity, Leadership, Management, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management
The following are some of the highlights from this year’s Futures Conference of the College of Law Practice Management held at Georgetown Law School last week: New Model Law Firms New entrants into law firm alternative business models are Clearspire, which consists of 2 joined companies –one providing legal services to clients and the other providing… Continue Reading

The Flat Demand Crisis

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Risk Management
Citi’s Midyear Report on the state of the legal industry for the first 6 months of this year is a cautionary read, harrowingly notable for its brevity. "[W]e’re now concerned that this year the legal industry may be unable to match 2011’s low single-digit profit growth. There are three reasons for our concern: demand growth slowed during… Continue Reading

Current Financial

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Risk Management
Here is the latest on the financial state of the US legal industry. Citibank reported last month that during the first quarter of 2012, demand for legal services grew a paltry 1.5%, although at least reversing the decline in the 2011 fourth quarter. But expense growth of 5.9% outpaced the meager revenue growth (1.2%) even more than in 2011–a rise… Continue Reading

Dewey & LeBoeuf: Probing the Wreckage and the Reasons

Posted in Communication, Compensation, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Pro Bono and Community Service, Productivity, Profitability, Risk Management, White Papers
As another pundit among many slowing down to rubber neck the wreckage strewn from the Dewey & LeBoeuf crash, it’s hard to know where to start. The question that hovered on everyone’s minds since earlier in the year, as the media dissected every move there, was whether we were watching the disintegration, again, of a major law firm: one which… Continue Reading

Downsizing the Legal Industry

Posted in Compensation, Law Education, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management
In case anyone questions whether the legal industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation, you might consider some of these developments:  The number of US law school applicants is down almost 25%, or over 200,000 applicants, over the last two years. Which might be in part because the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next ten years only… Continue Reading

Bringing the Hospitality Mind-Set to the Law

Posted in Client Service, Compensation, Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Teamwork, Work Satisfaction
Speaking of hospitality, during the 6th Annual HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo in San Francisco last month,Chip Conley, the founder of the hotel chain Joie de Vivre, said that most leaders have strong IQs, but far fewer have EQs—emotional intelligence—to match, and that can be detrimental to business. Why? 1) Emotions are more contagious than viruses, so… Continue Reading

International Women’s Day: Women and the Paris Bar

Posted in Compensation, Diversity, Recruitment, Retention, Work/Life Balance
At first glance, you as a woman lawyer might be tempted to pull up stakes and take yourself to Paris: according to a report by the Paris Bar, after rapid increases in the number of female law graduates there over the last few years, the number of registered women lawyers now outstrips the men, the women start practicing… Continue Reading

The Challenges of Lateral Hiring

Posted in Assessments, Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Compensation, Conflict, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Teamwork, Work Satisfaction
The American Lawyer has just issued its Report on Laterals 2012, in which it found that in the 12 months ending September 30, 2011, 2,454 partners left or joined Am Law 200 firms, for a 22% increase over 2010, when there was the lowest number of moves since 2000. "This year’s figure was consistent with the annual average of 2,458 partner moves… Continue Reading

The “Blame It On Law School” Controversy, or Unrequited Law Students

Posted in Compensation, Culture, Ethics, Law Education, Management, Professional Development, Recruitment, Retention, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
Perhaps the only players in the legal world getting a harsher strafing these days than law firms are law schools.  The biggest complaints are 1) financial: that they unfairly entice students into their folds on promises of big payday legal jobs that most will never have a shot at and that the law schools do so at tuition rates that impose mortgage-sized… Continue Reading

It’s That Time of Year Again: Bonuses

Posted in Compensation, Management, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction
Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the industry pacemaker in this matter, announced that it will keep associate year-end bonuses for 2011 the same as last year–$7,500 for a first year associate up to $37,500 for  the most senior associates.  Not only are these bonuses far below 2007, when first years received a total of $45,000 and seventh-years… Continue Reading

The Unhappy Lawyer

Posted in Compensation, Retention, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
According to the recently released 2011 Associates Survey, third- through fifth-year associates billed the highest number of billable hours in 2010 since 2007, working more than two extra weeks (80 billable hours, or a total average of 2,037 hours) compared to the 1,975 average  hours billed for 2009.  Which may account for the fact that the average firm composite score in terms of associate… Continue Reading

Liability for Lack of Lawyer Oversight?

Posted in Client Service, Compensation, Risk Management
A recent malpractice suit filed by a client against  McDermott Will & Emery places the spotlight on the challenges posed to firms trying to more efficiently process work that doesn’t require high-powered lawyering.  The client, J-M Manufacturing, the world’s largest plastic pipe manufacturer, claims that McDermott failed to adequately supervise contract attorneys, which resulted in 3900 documents being disclosed that were… Continue Reading

Making a Profit

Posted in Business Development, Compensation, Culture, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Risk Management
In connection with the American Lawyer’s announcement of the 2010 Am Law 100, Amy Kolz, a reporter there, wrote an article about profit margins of those firms over the last five years, to which I contributed. To summarize the article’s main points: Not only for the past 3 recession years but also for the final two years of… Continue Reading

Beauty Is As Beauty Does? Cashing In On Beauty

Posted in Assessments, Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Diversity, Profitability, Recruitment, Work Satisfaction
Perhaps your mother’s adage about what makes for beautiful is not entirely correct.  It was recently announced that economists at the University of Texas-Austin analyzed data from five large surveys of more than 25,000 people conducted between 1971 and 2009 in the US, Canada, Germany and Britain and came up with what may or may not… Continue Reading

Muir to Speak at Women Lawyers Alliance Annual Meeting

Posted in Announcements, Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Culture, Diversity, Law Departments, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Succession
Muir will speak on Law Practice in the 21st Century:  What It Means for You at the Women Lawyers Alliance annual meeting in Chicago on Friday, May 20.  Muir will review the massive changes that law practice is undergoing globally in this new century and what it means to individual lawyers and their law departments and firms in… Continue Reading

Large Firm Spread

Posted in Business Development, Compensation, Conflict, Culture, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management
The article “Pay Gap Widens at Big Law Firms as Partners Chase Star Attorneys,” published in The Wall Street Journal last week, reported on the increasing spread in partner compensation at large law firms, setting many in the industry talking.  In fact, the article understates the extent of the spread, the factors driving it and the… Continue Reading

Where Will Profits Come From in 2011?

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Retention, Risk Management
After literally years of bad news, recent reports have sparked a flurry of hope for an uptick in demand for legal services in 2011.  Let’s look at the data for some indication of whether that optimism is justified.  According to the Citi Private Bank report issued for the first 3 quarters of 2010, while demand in 2009… Continue Reading

Trends in Partner Compensation Systems

Posted in Client Service, Communication, Compensation, Culture, Leadership, Management, Professional Development, Profitability, Teamwork
One of the more interesting topics that we covered at this week’s audio conference for CCM on Partner Compensation systems are the trends occurring in the types of systems being used–globally, in the US in response to the current market pressures and in the course of an individual firm’s development. The data on global developments is not well updated. … Continue Reading

Muir to Present Audio Conference on Partner Compensation

Posted in Announcements, Compensation, Leadership, Management, Succession
Muir and Norman Clark of Walker Clark will be co-presenting a Center for Competitive Management audio presentation on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 2pm EST entitled "Partner Compensation–Defining the New Normal."  The presentation will cover: Key trends in partner compensation for 2011 Common and uncommon compensation plan options Who should evaluate performance and pay? Ways… Continue Reading

Why Partner Compensation Will Go Down

Posted in Compensation
In the wake of all the steps taken over the past few years to cut expenses, expectations might be that partner compensation might be stable or even going up again anytime soon.  So let’s be very clear about what may have gotten lost in the webinar discussion last month on partner compensation: after marching up conservatively but reliably for decades and… Continue Reading

Does Compensation Motivate?: The World According to Dan Pink

Posted in Client Service, Compensation, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
The most interesting question, in my opinion, that was asked of me and Peter Zeugheuser at last Thursday’s CCM audio conference on Origination Credit and Partner Compensation for the New Legal Landscape was not really within the purview of the topic.  It was "does compensation really work as an incentive?"   The topic–for a broadly diverse audience–was an overview of law… Continue Reading

Muir to Discuss Origination and Other Partnership Compensation Issues

Posted in Announcements, Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Culture, Leadership, Management, Profitability, Risk Management, Succession, Teamwork
Muir will co-present with Peter Zeughauser an audio conference hosted by Center for Competitive Management (CCM) on Thursday September 30, 2010 from 2:00 pm to 3:15 EST.  "Origination Credit and Partner Compensation for the New Legal Landscape" will include discussions of what origination is and how to measure it, what role origination plays in changing compensation systems, the impact of the… Continue Reading

The Lateral Lottery

Posted in Assessments, Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Compensation, Conflict, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment
Back when we were all focused on raising our retention rate of associates, I also waved the flag about the poor retention rate we have with the lateral partners we hire–a musical chair game that has been in full swing for a number of years and seems to have survived or at least is being revived after the downturn. … Continue Reading

Natural Morality

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Compensation, Culture, Decision-Making, Ethics, Management, Risk Management
David Brooks’ editorial in the Friday, July 23rd New York Times was on morality, in particular the type which naturalists view as another outcome of evolution. The naturalist position is that, much as we have over time developed receptors for sweetness and saltiness, we have also developed receptors that recognize fairness and cruelty.  At a recent… Continue Reading