Almost Half of New Partners Not Satisfied With Partner Pay

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A recent report from American Lawyer and ALM explains the age-old conundrum of senior associates: Do you have to accept that offer of partnership?

When looking at the financial aspect of partnership, often senior associates find that accepting partnership actually will put less money in their pockets. This is usually due to the fact that partners are not normal W-2'ed employees, they're part-owners, and thus have to pay their own benefits in full, as well as their own employment taxes, insurance, and then there's the capital contributions partners are expected to make.

And the Survey Says ...

According to the survey results, only 57% of new partners are happy with their new pay as partners. As described above, often, new partners do not expect to bring home less money than before, but the new financial burdens of partnership often do result in less pay than senior associates can bring in. Notably, the survey found that over 70% of new partners were dissatisfied with some aspect of their new roles.

Interestingly, about 10% of new partners also report dissatisfaction with work-life balance, and training/mentorship. But what might come as a surprise is that approximately 10% believe gender bias accounts for that dissatisfaction, and another 10% it is the result of cronyism.

BigLaw Partner Pay

While BigLaw partner pay may be one of those closely held secrets, it's not uncommon to see partners pull in a few million or more in an average year. However, for new partners, those champagne wishes and caviar dreams might take a year or two to materialize, as they develop in their new roles and finish, literally, paying dues (or buying equity).

Alternatively, for those senior associates seeking a more lateral transition in to partnership, the world of non-equity partnership might be their preferred route. Some firms may even allow a non-equity partner to eventually buy in, but often non-equity partners get a big bump in status and pay, without the headache that comes along with ownership.

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