Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

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Anonymous User
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Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 30, 2010 11:48 am

There is a lot of information out there on the billing structure of big law firms, but I want to know what I should expect from a a smaller firm. I'm sure that the variance between small firms is much greater than big firms, but I'd like some information before going to negotiate a job offer with a small firm. I have an offer but I've got to negotiate the details.

Is it standard practice to start with a base pay, and that's all you get regardless of how much work you bring in? Do you get a certain percentage of the work your clients bring to the firm? What if your clients need help from you, and then later need assistance in a different area of law from another lawyer in your firm--do you get credit for bringing in the client in the first place?

What's the standard practice for becoming a partner in the firm? Should I expect to work a couple years until I build a big enough client base to start my own firm, or is it reasonable to expect to become a partner once I bring in enough work? Or is there a focus on how long I've worked in the firm similar to a big firm?

I'd appreciate your insight and advice. Thanks.

Thane Messinger
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Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 7:54 pm

Re: Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

Postby Thane Messinger » Sun May 30, 2010 3:54 pm

Hate to burst any bubbles, but in general for a first job there is no "negotiation." Unless you're bringing in special skills (i.e., a Fortune 500 client, in which case you should be negotiating for immediate partnership), firms generally have a take-it-or-leave it assumption. This is usually because their "take it" position is quite generous, usually including bar prep fees, a salary pegged to other firms, etc.

Negotiation, while important, is usually what happens after a few years at one's first firm. If you feel you're not being treated well, etc., then the decision is made to leave and the many contacts made and knowledge gained over the preceding years come into play.

You're quite right that smaller firms have a much wider range of pay and other conditions, usually because they operate on a more ad hoc basis. Even so, avoid focusing on "when do I make partner!" etc. When you're ready, they'll either be inclined or they won't. If not, you walk. That is negotiation too.

As to receiving credit for new clients, in most cases you will first clear any new work through a partner, who will get credit. Once you're cleared for your own work, after a few years at least, then you'll get credit. And, yes, you get credit for all ancillary work (usually). And you're quite right on another level: this is the absolute basis for negotation, both as an employee and as a partner.

Good luck!

Thane.

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Thane Messinger
Author of:
Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide

Anonymous User
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Re: Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 30, 2010 5:12 pm

I've replied with a PM.

Thane Messinger
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 7:54 pm

Re: Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon May 31, 2010 4:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:I've replied with a PM.



Response therein.

= : )


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Thane Messinger
Author of:
Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide

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A'nold
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Re: Negotiating a Small Firm Contract

Postby A'nold » Mon May 31, 2010 4:49 am

Awwww, you guys love each other. :)




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