Thought For The Week: My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style . MAYA ANGELOU

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The Reality of Non-Equity Partnership

Lawyers at all levels of practice can be valuable members of the profession and can find satisfaction in their work.  That is a given, and the decision where you want to fall along the gamut is up to you.  But, before you put that decision in motion, be sure that you understand the terms.  For law firms, that includes being familiar with the ins and outs of non-equity partnership.

Non-equity partnership sounds good to many young lawyers who think they understand the demands of equity partnership and want something less. The thinking goes something like this:  I will still have an interesting practice.  I will have a great title.  I will make a lot of money.  And I won’t have to deal with as much client development, business promotion, and other firm management stuff that I really don’t like anyway.  So, what’s the downside????

Exactly, what’s the downside?  Although that line of reasoning may be good in theory, reality is a much better playing position when you are dealing with your career and your future.

So, it is a good idea to understand what non-equity partnership is, what it is not, how it came to be as popular as it is today, and who benefits most from it.

Those issues and others are covered in a recent article on Above The Law.  And the truth about non-equity partnership may not be all that you thought it would be.

As explained in that piece, the currently-popular two-tiered partnerships are made up of a junior class of  non-equity “partners,” who are paid set salaries, and the traditional inner circle of equity partners, who split the firm’s profits.  The rationale behind the creation of the non-equity group is to reward ambitious lawyers before they tire of the entry-level title of “associate” or other equally unsatisfactory monikers and look elsewhere.

Sounds good, right?  The firm is looking out for the junior talent. 

Maybe.  But, what is not so obvious is that the promotion to non-equity partner also allows the firm a justification to significantly raise hourly rates for this new class of “partners,” and the profits from that bump up goes to — you guessed it — the equity partners.

In fact, as further pointed out, the name change from “senior associate” or  “of counsel” or “counsel” or “special counsel” to “equity partner” is really a misnomer.  There is nothing in terms of traditional partnership about non-equity positions.  Sharing profits has always defined partnership, and there is no trace of that in the non-equity experience.  Clients don’t seem to notice and, as long as young lawyers do not care who profits off of a name change, it will continue.

But, there is more to think about.  The title also may negatively affect the futures of young lawyers in terms of mobility.  Titles can be misleading when it comes to market opportunities, and that can impact careers.  Be sure not to miss that part of the discussion.

And to educate yourself even more on the issues surrounding non-equity partnership, do not miss this article in the American Lawyer, which helps to sharpen the focus on conversations that are becoming necessary to eliminate the confusion and address the important issues about talent, opportunities and the futures of young lawyers.

Check out these articles and do not get blindsided when it comes to the subject of non-equity partnership.



Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Young Lawyer | Comment

Young Lawyers of the Sandwich Generation

I know a little bit about the Sandwich Generation. 

I was 30 years younger than my mom, and, at the same time that she was becoming aged, my own two children were teenagers.  It seemed like everyone needed help — or tending — and I knew that I had to find a way to be there for my mom.

So it goes.  If you ever have found yourself in that situation, you know that you are caught between two devotions just like a big ole piece of bologna is caught between two delicious pieces of bread with no way out.  Not enough time to do right by anyone — or it seems — and, to boot, you have a job.  A responsible and serious job that you need to pay the bills and provide what you want for your kids, but you still want to care for mom, who cared for you so long ago.

The Sandwich Generation, which is more a feeling than a single generation identity, affects more women than men.  This is not surprising because women have proven themselves to be such grand caretakers.  We are naturals, and we are not always very forgiving of those who do things differently than we do.  Especially when it comes to caring for loved our ones.

This is an important subject because the challenges are a function of time — time that we often feel we do not have.  And now that the elderly are living longer, many young lawyers can expect to care for their elders a lot longer.  Welcome to the Sandwich Generation.

As pointed out to me recently, we talk a lot today about Millennials and Baby Boomers.  But when do we start paying attention to the needs of the Sandwich Generation?

Here’s a link to a slide show you need to see.  Watch it and pass it on to your colleagues, your partners, and your employers.  At some time or another, you all will need help figuring out the challenges of the Sandwich Generation.

And, in case you are wondering, law school did not cover this!

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Week: Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Theresa

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