Author Topic: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?  (Read 18101 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« on: November 30, 2017, 08:20:01 AM »
I've posted quite here to vent about work. A lot has gone on, and some lawyers here have encouraged me to find a new job.  In summary, I might have just squared up a decent opportunity.

To summarize as briefly as possible, I am going on my fourth year at my current firm. I've posted here about it before, but it's given me a lot of stress and anxiety for various reasons, so I've kept my eyes and ears open for any and all possibilities.  That led to me being recommended to a reputable solo attorney in town, and we had dinner and drinks last night. We got along very well and she indicated that she would be sending me a compensation proposal by Friday.

Now, I'm really torn as to what to do, so I was hoping this forum (including its lawyers) could weigh in with its thoughts.

Current Firm
-Currently going on my 4th year at my current firm, which is located in a relatively small town but has 20-25 lawyers.
-Make approximately $50k with good benefits

Pros
-Very reputable firm
-Good partner track (5-6 years)
-Offers good benefits
-I just got a raise here this summer

Cons
-Corporate politics here bother the shit out of me
-The staff absolutely blows
-I'm 99% sure only 1-2 guys here actually rake in a decent salary, and the rest make somewhere between $80-90k despite working pretty damn hard
-Think I should be making more
-I'm being shoved into two areas of law (ERISA and workers' comp) that would be my entire practice, but I don't really want to do either of these long term
-I think I have a scarlet letter with some partners for various reasons (which I think are dumb), so I'm worried about partnership track

Possible New Job
-Would be hired by a very reputable solo attorney
-She has three offices, is very successful, and is looking to transition her practice

Pros
-If things worked out, I would probably make more money both short and long term
-Higher cieling
-Much more autonomy (completely fine with me working from home, or spending the day in the library to learn about how to try a particular case)
-Would do more civil litigation as opposed to the stuff I'm doing now
-By her indications, salary would be similar to what I currently make, and compensation would include a percentage of receipts

Cons
-Very, very nervous to hitch my career to one attorney, even despite her great reputation
-Would have to do some areas (domestic, bankruptcy) that I really don't want to do
-Reduced benefits (no health or 401k, but does offer SIMPLE IRA and other reimbursements)

I should note that I passed on a similar opportunity this summer, and the person who ended up with the job was a friend of mine. She is doing LIGHTYEARS better than me now. This is almost certainly some sort of bias in my head, but I can't help but think I should take this opportunity before becoming a lifer here.

Thoughts?

BeardedMustache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2017, 09:34:18 AM »
I've had a job like your current one, just good enough not to leave. These jobs ae a trap, and you may wake up in 10 years wondering what happened. I wasted 5 working years at mine with nothing to show for it.

Yes, you are underpaid but upside potential is even more important, especially in a young career. I say take the new gig if the offer is good, and prove your worth.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2017, 10:17:06 AM »
Update: The practitioner called and gave me an official offer. She offered to match my current salary plus 10% of receipts. This is negotiable, so now I'm probably looking to raise the salary even more.

Should I take this back to my current firm, or should I just negotiate this offer as best I can and run with it?

jwright

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2017, 10:19:35 AM »
Based on what you have posted, I would do everything I could to make option 2 work. 

Good luck!

BeardedMustache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2017, 10:23:00 AM »
Is this 10% of everything the company bills or you bill?

How much revenue are we talking about?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2017, 10:53:24 AM »
Is this 10% of everything the company bills or you bill?

How much revenue are we talking about?

I think 10% of what I bill, but this would also include 10% of settlements earned on files I am working on.

BeardedMustache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2017, 11:05:48 AM »
You'll need to clarify that with her, but that could be huge. Count me definitely in the option 2 camp.

BuffaloStache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2017, 11:23:28 AM »
I'm in a somewhat similar situation in a completely different field, and I'm leaning more towards option #2 as well. Since it does seem like you are early in your career, worst case option 2 doesn't work out, but then you'll have another 1-3 years of experience under your belt, and (more importantly) experience doing more things you like doing, and less things you don't like doing.

I would definitely try to negotiate the salary a little bit higher if you can. Good luck either way!

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2017, 12:43:40 PM »
Take the new job.

Negotiate for a higher percentage of receipts, not initial salary.

It sounds like you are within a couple of years from a partnership decision at your current firm, which means that they will be taking a very critical look at your performance over the next year or two.  It also sounds like you've had some mixed reviews to date (whether they're accurate/fair or not is irrelevant).  This combination signals to me that your chances at partnership are slim. 

The fundamental problem is that partnership decisions generally aren't determined by who likes you -- they are determined by who doesn't like you.  I have yet to see a partner elected who had even one attorney very strongly opposed to a particular candidate, and several "meh" responses is usually enough to doom someone.  Basically, being elected partner requires pleasing all of the people all of the time, at least for a couple of years.  So unless you are willing to bust your ass, fix every possible problem, and do whatever it takes over the next few years to convince the people who don't like you that you're the best thing since sliced bread, your better choice is to get the hell out of Dodge.  Otherwise, the best that you can hope for is that they will slot you into an undercompensated Of Counsel/Staff Attorney role (if they don't have anyone else to do the specific work you do); the more likely response is that they just let you go at some point (if someone else can step into your shoes, preferably for less money).

I wouldn't necessarily say this if this were your first post, but this is just the latest in a long line of dissatisfactions with your current position.  At some point you need to start listening to yourself and just make the jump.

Also, you generally have to do shit you aren't interested in in any legal job.  Hell, that could be the definition of "lawyer" sometimes -- you need to fix whatever problem someone will pay you to fix, not the one you'd like someone to pay you to fix.  And it doesn't sound like you're supremely enthused about the work you are doing now, right?  Would bankruptcy be worse than ERISA?*

One other consideration:  running a solo/small practice requires a completely different set of skills than working in a firm.  If you go to work for this other lawyer, there is no guarantee that you will succeed or that her firm will stay in business until you are ready to take over.  But worst-case, you will be getting the experience and developing the skills you will need to run your own firm -- something that is not happening at your current job (how many people are going to walk into a lawyer's office off the street and say, "hey, I don't know you from Adam, but I have this really complex ERISA problem I need help with"?).  So even if everything crashes and burns, you can consider your time there a well-paid internship in "solo practice skills."

In short:  good luck!!

*Answer:  Fuck no.  ERISA sucks.  But that's just me.  :-)

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2017, 12:50:03 PM »
I'm a solo and I love it.  Others have left good comments.  I agree that you must clarify how the 10% is calculated and get that in writing, but I imagine it would be 10% on work you bring in.  That's how many small firms do it.  They're bringing in all the work and paying you a salary so they don't generally pay you an additional percentage on top of that just for doing your job.

Thoughts:
1. Discuss whether the 10% can be increased over time.  Perhaps year 1 = 10%, yr 2 = 15%, yr 3 = 20%, yr 4 = 25% or time to discuss partnership.  That's how it was at a boutique where I used to work.  The idea was to encourage you to focus more on work than on rainmaking in the early years.

2. Discuss all potential "benefits"--meaning everything that she would pay in addition to your salary.  Ask whether she would be amenable to other benefits that are easier for her to handle--ie, whether she'll pay for any particular annual conference that you attend or membership in a local or specialty bar association or networking group.  If you think this is included already, clarify that.  Clarify whether she will pay your bar dues and liability insurance and parking.  Make no assumptions--clarity is key.

3. What is your annual billable hour goal?  Is there one?  Or does she evaluate you on collections?  Or both?  Is there a guaranteed bonus if you exceed the goals by a certain amount or is that discretionary?  Who is responsible for billing--you or her?  You want to find this out now and be on the same page.

4.  Be polite when asking the questions above.  A solo hiring another attorney is taking a big risk, so you don't want to scare her away.

Overall, it sounds like you might be better off with the solo.  You'll definitely learn a lot that you can apply to running your own practice later if that's your goal.  Good luck. 

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2017, 02:22:44 PM »
Take the new job.

Negotiate for a higher percentage of receipts, not initial salary.

It sounds like you are within a couple of years from a partnership decision at your current firm, which means that they will be taking a very critical look at your performance over the next year or two.  It also sounds like you've had some mixed reviews to date (whether they're accurate/fair or not is irrelevant).  This combination signals to me that your chances at partnership are slim. 

The fundamental problem is that partnership decisions generally aren't determined by who likes you -- they are determined by who doesn't like you.  I have yet to see a partner elected who had even one attorney very strongly opposed to a particular candidate, and several "meh" responses is usually enough to doom someone.  Basically, being elected partner requires pleasing all of the people all of the time, at least for a couple of years.  So unless you are willing to bust your ass, fix every possible problem, and do whatever it takes over the next few years to convince the people who don't like you that you're the best thing since sliced bread, your better choice is to get the hell out of Dodge.  Otherwise, the best that you can hope for is that they will slot you into an undercompensated Of Counsel/Staff Attorney role (if they don't have anyone else to do the specific work you do); the more likely response is that they just let you go at some point (if someone else can step into your shoes, preferably for less money).

I wouldn't necessarily say this if this were your first post, but this is just the latest in a long line of dissatisfactions with your current position.  At some point you need to start listening to yourself and just make the jump.

Also, you generally have to do shit you aren't interested in in any legal job.  Hell, that could be the definition of "lawyer" sometimes -- you need to fix whatever problem someone will pay you to fix, not the one you'd like someone to pay you to fix.  And it doesn't sound like you're supremely enthused about the work you are doing now, right?  Would bankruptcy be worse than ERISA?*

One other consideration:  running a solo/small practice requires a completely different set of skills than working in a firm.  If you go to work for this other lawyer, there is no guarantee that you will succeed or that her firm will stay in business until you are ready to take over.  But worst-case, you will be getting the experience and developing the skills you will need to run your own firm -- something that is not happening at your current job (how many people are going to walk into a lawyer's office off the street and say, "hey, I don't know you from Adam, but I have this really complex ERISA problem I need help with"?).  So even if everything crashes and burns, you can consider your time there a well-paid internship in "solo practice skills."

In short:  good luck!!

*Answer:  Fuck no.  ERISA sucks.  But that's just me.  :-)

This was basically my analysis. I've made a couple dumb mistakes with the wrong guy, I've made a joke with the wrong partner, I've done this and that...I feel like there's several partners here who didn't want to hire me in the first place and have used that to be extra critical of me. I've always felt like there's a scarlet letter here no matter how hard I'm working.

The idea of a clean slate and just having one boss is really appealing to me. Whether this is the right opportunity for that, I don't think I could ever be 100% sure, but it does sound pretty enticing.

Thanks for your post.

I'm a solo and I love it.  Others have left good comments.  I agree that you must clarify how the 10% is calculated and get that in writing, but I imagine it would be 10% on work you bring in.  That's how many small firms do it.  They're bringing in all the work and paying you a salary so they don't generally pay you an additional percentage on top of that just for doing your job.

Thoughts:
1. Discuss whether the 10% can be increased over time.  Perhaps year 1 = 10%, yr 2 = 15%, yr 3 = 20%, yr 4 = 25% or time to discuss partnership.  That's how it was at a boutique where I used to work.  The idea was to encourage you to focus more on work than on rainmaking in the early years.

2. Discuss all potential "benefits"--meaning everything that she would pay in addition to your salary.  Ask whether she would be amenable to other benefits that are easier for her to handle--ie, whether she'll pay for any particular annual conference that you attend or membership in a local or specialty bar association or networking group.  If you think this is included already, clarify that.  Clarify whether she will pay your bar dues and liability insurance and parking.  Make no assumptions--clarity is key.

3. What is your annual billable hour goal?  Is there one?  Or does she evaluate you on collections?  Or both?  Is there a guaranteed bonus if you exceed the goals by a certain amount or is that discretionary?  Who is responsible for billing--you or her?  You want to find this out now and be on the same page.

4.  Be polite when asking the questions above.  A solo hiring another attorney is taking a big risk, so you don't want to scare her away.

Overall, it sounds like you might be better off with the solo.  You'll definitely learn a lot that you can apply to running your own practice later if that's your goal.  Good luck. 

This is great advice. I agree with you (and others) that clearing up the 10% issue is critical, and further that following up on the details is very important.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2017, 01:46:45 PM »
Thanks all for your advice thus far.  I have ultimately made the decision to change jobs.  This became very clear to me when my wife asked, "How much would it take from your current firm to keep you there," and my response was basically that they couldn't pay me enough to keep me there.

So, right now I have her current offer communicated by phone. She is putting it in writing by tomorrow, and I am supposed to get back to her by Monday.

Below is my counteroffer, and I'm curious whether it is perhaps too demanding. I've received some advice to focus on the variable costs rather than the fixed costs, so that's kind of what my counter is geared towards.

Her Current Offer
Salary: $50,000
CLE/Bar Expenses: paid by firm
Malpractice Insurance: paid by firm
SIMPLE IRA: to include employer contributions as provided by IRS guidelines (believe this should be in her offer)
Percent of Billing Receipts (to include all work in which I am billing hours): 10%

My Counteroffer
Salary: $55,000
CLE/Bar Expenses: paid by firm
Malpractice Insurance: paid by firm
SIMPLE IRA: to include employer contributions as provided by IRS guidelines (believe this should be in her offer)
Percent of Billing Receipts (to include all work in which I am billing hours): 15%
Percent of Originating Receipts (to include all clients originated by me): 25%

Thoughts?

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2017, 02:03:15 PM »
I am not a lawyer, and I am female (noted because we tend to be conservative in negotiations about salary and benefits) but I think asking for a 10% salary increase over her initial offer AND an increase in percentage of billed hours AND an additional higher rate for billable work you generate is pushing too hard.   Given that you now know that you want to leave your current firm, I would ask for one or MAYBE two of these, and that the terms be looked at again for possible adjustment in 1 or 2 years. 

Best strategy might be just to ask for a higher percentage of billable hours you generate -- then work your ass off to build a book of business that benefits both you and the firm.  But there, too, I would be conservative -- maybe ask for 15 or 20% of that portion, with a revisit after 6 months to a year.   


BuffaloStache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2017, 03:14:49 PM »
I am not a lawyer, and I am female (noted because we tend to be conservative in negotiations about salary and benefits) but I think asking for a 10% salary increase over her initial offer AND an increase in percentage of billed hours AND an additional higher rate for billable work you generate is pushing too hard.   Given that you now know that you want to leave your current firm, I would ask for one or MAYBE two of these, and that the terms be looked at again for possible adjustment in 1 or 2 years. 

Best strategy might be just to ask for a higher percentage of billable hours you generate -- then work your ass off to build a book of business that benefits both you and the firm.  But there, too, I would be conservative -- maybe ask for 15 or 20% of that portion, with a revisit after 6 months to a year.

I think you are driving a hard bargain, but not an impossible one. I also totally agree with lhamo that you should be clear upfront that you may want to revisit some of these items (particularly the %age of billing and originating receipts) in the future.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2017, 08:09:09 AM by BuffaloStache »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2017, 03:42:20 PM »
Agree Iím trying to drive a hard bargain, but thereís really two reasons for that.

One, her offer is based on my current income rather than what she can pay. The associate pay at firms like mine is well known in the area, and her offer basically matches my current salary. So I think her offer is based on what I make rather than what she is willing to pay.

Second, and maybe Iím dumb, but I feel like she is evaluating me throughout this process. If Iím just a push over *for my own salary negotiation,* how hard can she expect me to advocate for clients?

Those are just my general thoughts, and again, all opinions welcome and appreciated.

BuffaloStache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2017, 08:10:57 AM »
^ with that information I say go with the counter-offer you suggested here. It'll show you are willing to fight and will also test the waters of what she's willing to pay. Just remember to be polite and professional throughout the entire process, even if you don't get everything you asked for. Good luck!

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2017, 10:22:48 AM »
FWIW, I received the offer in writing today:

Quote
This would be a salary position at the starting rate of $1923.08 bi-weekly, with an additional incentive of ten percent (10%) of the collected fee, of all hourly billing generated by you.  Likewise, additional benefit of legal malpractice insurance, continuing education, office and support staff would be made available to you.


This confirms to my understanding, although we did discuss a SIMPLE IRA when we met, so Iím not sure why thatís not included.

Iím getting drinks with a mentor tomorrow and will likely counter by tomorrow night.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2017, 12:54:45 PM »
FWIW, I received the offer in writing today:

Quote
This would be a salary position at the starting rate of $1923.08 bi-weekly, with an additional incentive of ten percent (10%) of the collected fee, of all hourly billing generated by you.  Likewise, additional benefit of legal malpractice insurance, continuing education, office and support staff would be made available to you.


This confirms to my understanding, although we did discuss a SIMPLE IRA when we met, so Iím not sure why thatís not included.

Iím getting drinks with a mentor tomorrow and will likely counter by tomorrow night.

Um, I think that's not what you thought.  You thought that it was 10% on all your billables.  It's not.  It's 10% on the amount collected of the hourly work that your generate.  This is what I had thought originally--you get 10% on all your own originations that get collected.
  That makes more sense than giving you 10% on your own billables if it's work that she generates. 

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2017, 02:12:32 PM »
FWIW, I received the offer in writing today:

Quote
This would be a salary position at the starting rate of $1923.08 bi-weekly, with an additional incentive of ten percent (10%) of the collected fee, of all hourly billing generated by you.  Likewise, additional benefit of legal malpractice insurance, continuing education, office and support staff would be made available to you.


This confirms to my understanding, although we did discuss a SIMPLE IRA when we met, so Iím not sure why thatís not included.

Iím getting drinks with a mentor tomorrow and will likely counter by tomorrow night.

Um, I think that's not what you thought.  You thought that it was 10% on all your billables.  It's not.  It's 10% on the amount collected of the hourly work that your generate.  This is what I had thought originally--you get 10% on all your own originations that get collected.
  That makes more sense than giving you 10% on your own billables if it's work that she generates.

I interpreted it differently. I think if she meant originate, she would have used that verb, or used some other modifying adjective. I think her language is so that I donít get a flat 10% of all billing receipts from the firm, but instead only the matters Iím working on.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2017, 12:29:40 AM »
I agree with everything that Laura33 and TVRod said upthread in Reply #s 8 and 9.

Regarding the written offer, I could actually interpret her language either way -- that you get 10% of all work you bill and is collected, regardless of who originates it, or that you get 10% of all work that you originate and gets billed and collected.  Strange, as I started my reply here to agree with TVRod's interpretation, but then while typing, I could see your interpretation, too.  However, if you originate work, I think you should be getting much more than 10% of that collected fee.  Has she given you a certain billable hour requirement?  Either way, you need to make sure that this is clarified in writing.  I have attorney friends with small practices who have told me about their own compensation disputes with other partners, etc., and you do not want to end up with that situation yourself!

Congratulations on finding a good way out of your current firm!  It sucks, but I think the reality of your situation there indicates that at least one of the partners would block you from making partner with them.  In my opinion/experience, it's better to cut your losses sooner rather than later.

jwright

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2017, 08:53:11 AM »
FWIW, I received the offer in writing today:

Quote
This would be a salary position at the starting rate of $1923.08 bi-weekly, with an additional incentive of ten percent (10%) of the collected fee, of all hourly billing generated by you.  Likewise, additional benefit of legal malpractice insurance, continuing education, office and support staff would be made available to you.


This confirms to my understanding, although we did discuss a SIMPLE IRA when we met, so Iím not sure why thatís not included.

Iím getting drinks with a mentor tomorrow and will likely counter by tomorrow night.

Um, I think that's not what you thought.  You thought that it was 10% on all your billables.  It's not.  It's 10% on the amount collected of the hourly work that your generate.  This is what I had thought originally--you get 10% on all your own originations that get collected.
  That makes more sense than giving you 10% on your own billables if it's work that she generates.

This is how I read it as well.  She is using "generate" as an equivalent to "originate".  That's much more standard.  I don't know any firms that would pay you 10% of collections on all work originated by someone else that was simply assigned to you if you are a staff associate.  It seems like the word generate would be unnecessary if she meant all of your hourly work.

ETA:  I have heard of receiving bonuses based on all collections after certain benchmarks are reached (collection of 3x salary).
« Last Edit: December 04, 2017, 09:03:40 AM by jwright »

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2017, 08:59:26 AM »
I haven't had time to read everything but here is what I get paid.

Salary of X, I keep 35% of my receivables, regardingless of origination, that exceeds 3 x my salary.  This is a pretty standard arrangement.  I would make sure that 10% is all receivables not just origination and try to make it 30%. 

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2017, 12:52:05 PM »
This is how I read it as well.  She is using "generate" as an equivalent to "originate".  That's much more standard.  I don't know any firms that would pay you 10% of collections on all work originated by someone else that was simply assigned to you if you are a staff associate.  It seems like the word generate would be unnecessary if she meant all of your hourly work.

I polled two lawyers I trust (one being my dad), and they were split on how to interpret her offer.  That was enough for me to send a clarifying email to her.

I haven't had time to read everything but here is what I get paid.

Salary of X, I keep 35% of my receivables, regardingless of origination, that exceeds 3 x my salary.  This is a pretty standard arrangement.  I would make sure that 10% is all receivables not just origination and try to make it 30%.

I really like the idea of increasing the incentive bonus (for lack of a better term) for receipts that go over and above my salary. I'm getting drinks with a mentor in town tonight who is going to help me craft my offer, and I will mention this to him and see what he thinks.

Thanks for everything thus far everyone.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2017, 06:31:35 AM »
You folks were rightó10% of originated receipts. Iíve got some negotiating to do.

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2017, 02:48:25 PM »
I'm responding to add my experience with a pay structure similar to what you have been offered.  At my former firm I was paid 40% of collected billing with no base salary.  The firm took the risk of collection for sixty days of non-payment, then it was on me to either continue work with the risk of no pay or drop the client.  Bonus was paid for collected hours over 1080 in a year, but I don't remember what the percentage was.  Originations did not count into compensation, except to the extent that they were considered for promotion to senior associate or partner.  The partners did not provide much work (at least those I worked with most), so there was an expectation to generate business on my own.  All that sounds terrible, but I made a decent income within that structure.

A few rhetorical questions to consider - is the offered salary lower or higher than the norm in your area?  What is your hourly rate?  Can your rate go up in the new firm?  Does the solo provide support staff and services?  Do you have (good, paying) clients you can take with you to the new firm?  Based on the answers, I would aim for something similar to Blonde Lawyer's compensation, which seems reasonable for a small firm to pay.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2017, 02:53:22 PM »
You folks were rightó10% of originated receipts. Iíve got some negotiating to do.

Good to get clarification.  What is the billable requirement?

Also, two more of my cents as both a solo and as someone who was hired by a solo where we did not have sufficient clarity:

1.  Clarifying the metric by which you will be judged is crucial.
2.  Negotiating is fine until it turns someone sour on you.  If she wants you on her team, don't make her into the opponent before you even start.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2017, 03:46:42 PM »
Thanks all for the advice. To anybody still following this, we reached a deal this afternoon.

I actually had drinks with an attorney in town last night who has been practicing for 50 years but is now of counsel at my current firm in order to transition his clients as he retires. He said I'd be insane not to take this opportunity given the never-ending politics at my current firm and the room to grow with this attorney. He also vouched for her reputation as a person and a lawyer.

Her Offer
-Salary: $50,000;
-CLE/Bar Expenses: paid by firm;
-Malpractice Insurance: paid by firm;
-Incentive for originated receipts: 10% of collected fees;
-Access to and management over support staff.

Final Agreement
-Salary: $55,000;
-CLE/Bar Expenses: paid by firm;
-Malpractice Insurance: paid by firm;
-SIMPLE IRA: eligible to enroll in 2018;
-Incentive for originated receipts: 25% of collected fees;
-Incentive for non-originated receipts exceeding 1.5x my salary: 20% of collected fees;
-Incentive for contingency fee receipts in which I am the primary attorney: 25% of the collected fee;
-Freedom to engage in business opportunities that do not conflict with the law firm; and
-Access to and management over support staff.

Thanks to everyone on here who pretty much unanimously encouraged me to make this jump. I'm crazy excited.

BuffaloStache

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2017, 04:08:53 PM »
^Sounds like a great movement from the original offer- Congrats and good luck!

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2017, 05:11:23 PM »
WOW!   You should offer to teach a seminar at the local law school on how to negotiate your employment offers.  That is an impressive improvement over what the original offer was.  And I'm eating my hat about suggesting you were aiming too high....   Congratulations and hope this change proves to be excellent for you, your family and the new firm.

Suit

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2017, 06:29:34 PM »
Congrats on the new job and the impressive negotiation! It's great that you're excited about the transition!

I'm also a lawyer who also recently switched jobs.  I'm much happier now and I wish you the same!

LeRainDrop

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #30 on: December 05, 2017, 06:40:09 PM »
That's fantastic, RSM!  Congratulations!!!

change_seeker

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2017, 06:47:25 PM »
Congratulations on the new position and thanks for sharing the process with us.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2017, 07:48:47 PM »
That's awesome! Great job!

Laura33

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2017, 08:16:52 PM »
Super!  Congrats!

TVRodriguez

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2017, 08:21:40 PM »
Congratulations on reaching an agreement! May the road rise to meet you.

jwright

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #35 on: December 08, 2017, 09:52:51 AM »
Congratulations!  That's sounds like a great package and an awesome opportunity!

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2018, 07:26:14 AM »
Super late, but good deal. I hope it's working for you.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #37 on: January 31, 2018, 09:51:42 AM »
Super late, but good deal. I hope it's working for you.

It's largely going well.  She has a pretty smooth running operation and I determined pretty quickly that she has an incredibly good client base and revenue stream.  She's only in the office for about 15 hours a week and delegates nearly everything to me.  I'm getting the distinct impression she wants to focus on other business ventures and slowly transition everything to me, and maybe in 3-5 years, sell me her practice. 

She also gives me a ton of autonomy.  She let me get the firm going on G Suite (Google's Business Suite), let me update how things are billed, and largely lets me work from home.  My long term goal is to be on my own, and this seems like an excellent bridge to get there.

My first billings go out this month, so I'll probably pay a very close eye to those receivables and hope to get an incentive pay in February.  She has already told me she'll likely give me some of these payments via "reimbursements" since I drive between offices so much, and that would be awesome.

The only downside is that she has a monster corporate case heading to trial in about two weeks and getting up to speed on it is consuming nearly every day.  We're talking 6-7 banker's boxes of bank statements, invoices, spreadsheets, etc.  It is all paying work, but I have a lot more fun working on a noncompete case one day and then a DUI defense the next.  Hoping this gets settled and I can go back to being a "street lawyer."


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #38 on: January 31, 2018, 02:52:00 PM »
That sounds like a fairly good problem to have. Glad it's working out.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #39 on: January 31, 2018, 04:30:57 PM »
She's only in the office for about 15 hours a week and delegates nearly everything to me.  I'm getting the distinct impression she wants to focus on other business ventures and slowly transition everything to me, and maybe in 3-5 years, sell me her practice. 

She also gives me a ton of autonomy.  She let me get the firm going on G Suite (Google's Business Suite), let me update how things are billed, and largely lets me work from home.  My long term goal is to be on my own, and this seems like an excellent bridge to get there.
  Sounds like an excellent opportunity.  Learn what you can about the "business" aspects of running a firm - marketing, how to get clients in the door, that sort of thing.


Quote
The only downside is that she has a monster corporate case heading to trial in about two weeks and getting up to speed on it is consuming nearly every day.  We're talking 6-7 banker's boxes of bank statements, invoices, spreadsheets, etc.  It is all paying work, but I have a lot more fun working on a noncompete case one day and then a DUI defense the next.  Hoping this gets settled and I can go back to being a "street lawyer."
  The experience from trying a case like that is invaluable.  Cherish this learning opportunity.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #40 on: February 01, 2018, 01:26:29 PM »
I have to agree with Malum Prohibitum on the trial thing. Trials are a huge pain in the a$$ but they are great learning experiences. Also, simply being ready, willing and able to try a case is worth money when you negotiate settlements on other cases.  Do you need to ask me how I know? Ok, you didn't ask, but I know because it happens to other, better attorneys! jk :)

Also, a successful solo in that position is very likely looking to continue to earn money from a business they created while pursuing other interests. Law firms are difficult to make totally passive but 15 hours a week is pretty good (for her)!. I bet your boss is attempting to snag a competent young attorney (i.e. you) with the desire and capacity to take over an existing business (you?) while, at the same time, wanting to catch some economic benefit (i.e. money) for passing along a functioning firm (will you let her continue to get money and for how long?). My advice would be to let this process play out over a period of years and don't be in a hurry.


RyaninLA

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #41 on: February 03, 2018, 07:58:37 AM »
Oh man, no. This is not an aggressive counter. I hope she wants to hire an aggressive associate and she should interpret it as a sign of strength that will benefit her practice. Feel free to explain this reasoning, from your perspective, in a polite manner. People who are hesitant jumping over and not firmly negotiating make way less over the long term - don't be one of those people.

I am not a lawyer, and I am female (noted because we tend to be conservative in negotiations about salary and benefits) but I think asking for a 10% salary increase over her initial offer AND an increase in percentage of billed hours AND an additional higher rate for billable work you generate is pushing too hard.   Given that you now know that you want to leave your current firm, I would ask for one or MAYBE two of these, and that the terms be looked at again for possible adjustment in 1 or 2 years. 

Best strategy might be just to ask for a higher percentage of billable hours you generate -- then work your ass off to build a book of business that benefits both you and the firm.  But there, too, I would be conservative -- maybe ask for 15 or 20% of that portion, with a revisit after 6 months to a year.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2018, 10:28:53 AM »
Oh man, no. This is not an aggressive counter. I hope she wants to hire an aggressive associate and she should interpret it as a sign of strength that will benefit her practice. Feel free to explain this reasoning, from your perspective, in a polite manner. People who are hesitant jumping over and not firmly negotiating make way less over the long term - don't be one of those people.

I am not a lawyer, and I am female (noted because we tend to be conservative in negotiations about salary and benefits) but I think asking for a 10% salary increase over her initial offer AND an increase in percentage of billed hours AND an additional higher rate for billable work you generate is pushing too hard.   Given that you now know that you want to leave your current firm, I would ask for one or MAYBE two of these, and that the terms be looked at again for possible adjustment in 1 or 2 years. 

Best strategy might be just to ask for a higher percentage of billable hours you generate -- then work your ass off to build a book of business that benefits both you and the firm.  But there, too, I would be conservative -- maybe ask for 15 or 20% of that portion, with a revisit after 6 months to a year.

If you had bothered to read the whole thread before jumping in to mansplain how wrong I was in my advice, you would have seen that he already got the job with much better terms.  And that I apologized for suggesting he shouldn't be so aggressive.

I somehow managed to FIRE on a very healthy stash at 46, after only 15 years in the workforce (did a Ph.D. first), so while I may be one of the many women who are a bit more conservative in salary negotiations (it is a thing, and there are reasons for it), I seem to have done ok for myself.

Sorry for the semi-hijack of your thread, RSM.   Good luck with the trial!

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #43 on: February 03, 2018, 11:17:21 AM »
I have no doubt that the trial is going to be great experience, but getting a grasp on that big of a file in just three weeks--having no prior knowledge of the file, the players involved, the underlying story of the business, etc.--has been all consuming.  I should add that our client, one of the 50/50 partners, died during the litigation, so we lost our best witness and can only speak through the documents.  It's just a mess.

That said, today is my first full day off in a couple weeks and I'm enjoying it.  Going to get back to the grind and organize a big aspect of this trial tomorrow morning.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2018, 11:24:39 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #44 on: February 27, 2018, 07:08:05 AM »
I have no doubt that the trial is going to be great experience, but getting a grasp on that big of a file in just three weeks--having no prior knowledge of the file, the players involved, the underlying story of the business, etc.--has been all consuming.  I should add that our client, one of the 50/50 partners, died during the litigation, so we lost our best witness and can only speak through the documents.  It's just a mess.

That said, today is my first full day off in a couple weeks and I'm enjoying it.  Going to get back to the grind and organize a big aspect of this trial tomorrow morning.

Well, this case settled.  I was pretty darn prepared and opposing counsel was not, and we ended up getting some great settlement terms for my clients.

Since other attorneys are posting about making moves, some more updates from me:

Things are going pretty decent so far.  There are a ton of clients and I'm getting a lot of experience in stuff that can provide a good base income (simple wills, guardianships, traffic tickets, etc.).  Doing this work is a bit ironic because, at my old job, I hated being a jack of all trades, master of none; but now I find myself enjoying picking up these skills knowing one day they will be beneficial if I have my own firm.  Also, I actually have one of the secretaries doing all of these in my Google Docs so I will permanently have these forms. 

I love the flexibility and the hours.  I worked from home last Thursday and Friday.  I show up every once in a while in jeans and a quarterzip.  I came in today at 7:00 and will probably leave at 3:00.  My boss is never here so the entire facetime requirement is gone.  Also, I have a lot of authority over the staff, and that in turn has made my life a lot easier.

The only downside thus far is that every single file that is even a remotely complex piece of civil litigation is a total clusterfuck.  My observation is that my boss delegated everything to an attorney with zero experience (fresh out of law school), and then she'd swoop into the file in full blown panic mode.  So not only are things indescribably messy and unorganized, there are also a ton of goofy and panicky motions, complete failure to correspond with opposing counsel, discovery hasn't been sent or responded to, etc.  She keeps telling me these cases are going to trial, but they are just total clusterfucks. 

I bitched about my old firm a lot, but they taught me to practice at the highest possible standard.  Memos to the file, well organized, filing everything timely, always following up correspondence within 24 hours, proofread everything a billion times, etc.  This has been ingrained in me, and it's how I practice.

So things are overall going well, but my goal is to get all these POS cases off my docket within the year so that all other files will at least have been managed by me.

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #45 on: February 27, 2018, 09:28:48 AM »

The only downside thus far is that every single file that is even a remotely complex piece of civil litigation is a total clusterfuck.  My observation is that my boss delegated everything to an attorney with zero experience (fresh out of law school), and then she'd swoop into the file in full blown panic mode.  So not only are things indescribably messy and unorganized, there are also a ton of goofy and panicky motions, complete failure to correspond with opposing counsel, discovery hasn't been sent or responded to, etc.  She keeps telling me these cases are going to trial, but they are just total clusterfucks. 

I bitched about my old firm a lot, but they taught me to practice at the highest possible standard.  Memos to the file, well organized, filing everything timely, always following up correspondence within 24 hours, proofread everything a billion times, etc.  This has been ingrained in me, and it's how I practice.

It may be frustrating now to deal with the mess, but there will be a huge amount of satisfaction knowing you turned a poorly run shop into a well-oiled machine.  And if she was doing such great business before with such poor underlying functions and the wasted time it must have led to, you guys are going to CLEAN UP once you get things hammered into shape. 



ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #46 on: February 27, 2018, 10:48:30 AM »
It may be frustrating now to deal with the mess, but there will be a huge amount of satisfaction knowing you turned a poorly run shop into a well-oiled machine.  And if she was doing such great business before with such poor underlying functions and the wasted time it must have led to, you guys are going to CLEAN UP once you get things hammered into shape.

I've thought about this a lot.  My boss is absolutely incredible at marketing and client generation, but she will be the first to admit that she's not great with communication and organization. I really fill in her weaknesses and she fills in mine (lack of clients at this stage in my career).

She's in the conference room now preparing for a jury trial next week in which she is a party (meaning we can't represent).  It honestly looks like a hurricane blew through there.  It's a total cluster.  It's almost comical if she didn't have me running around doing a bunch of stuff to cover her ass on an emergency basis.

Even better, she has me drafting a two page "Trial Statement."  I brought to her attention that the local rules require a pretrial statement with witness disclosures, summaries, legal citations, etc., and she flat out said she didn't care about the local rule because we didn't have time to do all that.  Oh well.  My signature is not going on anything, but what a classic microcosm this is of her practice--lack of diligence and organization leading to a potential explosion next week.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 10:51:59 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

lhamo

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #47 on: February 27, 2018, 11:10:32 AM »
Sounds a bit like opposing counsel in the lawsuit i was in court for the last two weeks.  He seemed to have real trouble keeping track of evidence, etc.

Favorite trial moment:

Opposing counsel grills defense occupational rehab expert on her opinion that plaintiff's long term earning capacity was not really affected by alleged injuries.   Makes a big issue of how the expert never met his client in person.  (One of his major arguments was that since our expert witnesses were paid they were obviously biased -- nevermind that it was obvious that HIS expert witnesses were also paid).   She says something to the effect of "you wouldn't let me meet with her."  And he protested loudly that he never restricted access.

During redirect, our lawyer holds up a piece of paper:  Can you read this for me?

It was the letter plaintiff's counsel had sent to our defense attorney citing the local statute that requires that the defense MUST be allowed access to the plaintiff for a defense medical exam, but pointing out that there was no such requirement for an occupational rehab assessment.  And denying, in writing, the request for access for same.

BAM!  In one fell swoop, he was made to look like an idiot.....

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2018, 11:38:28 AM »
Sounds a bit like opposing counsel in the lawsuit i was in court for the last two weeks.  He seemed to have real trouble keeping track of evidence, etc.

Favorite trial moment:

Opposing counsel grills defense occupational rehab expert on her opinion that plaintiff's long term earning capacity was not really affected by alleged injuries.   Makes a big issue of how the expert never met his client in person.  (One of his major arguments was that since our expert witnesses were paid they were obviously biased -- nevermind that it was obvious that HIS expert witnesses were also paid).   She says something to the effect of "you wouldn't let me meet with her."  And he protested loudly that he never restricted access.

During redirect, our lawyer holds up a piece of paper:  Can you read this for me?

It was the letter plaintiff's counsel had sent to our defense attorney citing the local statute that requires that the defense MUST be allowed access to the plaintiff for a defense medical exam, but pointing out that there was no such requirement for an occupational rehab assessment.  And denying, in writing, the request for access for same.

BAM!  In one fell swoop, he was made to look like an idiot.....

It's a dream to have that as opposing counsel, but it's not so great when that's your boss and you're kinda responsible for filling in the gaps.

FIREby35

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Re: Employment Dilemma--Take New Job?
« Reply #49 on: March 07, 2018, 07:36:43 AM »
RSM -

Look at litigation systematically and then systematically organize your ability to take action. For example, I've got a form car accident discovery request from other Plaintiff attorneys in my local Plaintiff Association for every insurance company. So, as soon as I file a case, I get that company's discovery and I have my team start getting the answers. Then when I get served discovery from the defense counsel, I answer within 48 hours because I already knew what they were going to ask and had the answers. That get's us closer to trial, shaves at least a month of the eventual resolution of the case and usually sends a strong message to defense counsel that I'm not messing around without having to be aggressive to the opposing attorney in a mean way. We do little things like that all the time systematically as a matter of course.

Anyway, that is an example of what I mean by seeing it systematically. None of this stuff is new. You can anticipate what defense counsel will do and what you are going to do in response. I have found that being "offensive" with my ability to respond to these types of things rather than unorganized, missing deadlines, never filing MSJ's or strategic discovery of my own (due to lack of time caused by poor organization) causes me to work exponentially less to accomplish much more and gives me massive leverage in any settlement negotiations. So, save your Complaints, Answers, Discovery Requests, Discovery Answers, make witness list filing/exhibit document that can be reused, get a private investigator you like to find/locate lost witnesses. Once you've created them, refine them and fine tune them and then use them repeatedly.

Practicing law by attending to each "emergency" problem caused by lack of organization is exhausting and a disservice to clients.