Small Firms

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Small Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:30 pm

Hello all,

I searched but could not find a forum on this topic. I inquired about summer associate work at a small personal injury-type firm in a major southern city. The partner asked me how much I am looking to make during the summer.. Not sure how to answer this question, because I have no idea of the range when it comes to these kind of firms. However, it would be nice to make money during my 1L summer. Does anyone have any clue or experience with this? Thanks

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:51 pm

Law clerks at small law firms tend to make 15-30/hr with most firms paying around 20-25/hr from what I've seen. If the small law firm though is some IP boutique, etc., then of course it'd be much more. It's always hard to tell with small law firms since they can differ so much. I'd say expect 20-25.

micwrecka45
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Re: Small Firms

Postby micwrecka45 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:51 pm

Accidental anon.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Thanks for the response. That's about what I was expecting.

jd-mba
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Re: Small Firms

Postby jd-mba » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:27 pm

i've seen law clerks offered $12-$17 for small <10 person firms...

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Re: Small Firms

Postby 2LLLL » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:44 am

Tell him/her that you're open to discuss/negotiate your compensation, and do whatever you can to avoid putting a number out there before the firm puts an offer on the table.

If you say you want $X/hr, and X is less than what they would otherwise offer, then X is almost certainly what you're getting. If X is more than what they would otherwise offer, then they may not offer you a job if they feel like you're looking for too much. So say you're "flexible" or "open" or just flat out say you won't discuss it until an offer of employment has been extended. Then, at that point, you won't be tempted to lowball on your own salary to try to get the job.

EDIT: Actually, on second thought, the best approach is almost certainly to say: "I don't feel comfortable discussing compensation in advance of an offer."

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Cupidity
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Re: Small Firms

Postby Cupidity » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:01 am

I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby 2LsAPlenty » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:43 pm

Cupidity wrote:I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.



$ 1000 a week is pretty much the standard for the good small firms in the midwest. You can see higher and lower but that is the average.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Cupidity » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:15 pm

2LsAPlenty wrote:
Cupidity wrote:I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.



$ 1000 a week is pretty much the standard for the good small firms in the midwest. You can see higher and lower but that is the average.


A lot of small firms in Boston DC pay $10/15hr, probably because the market is saturated from all the schools.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby 2LsAPlenty » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:22 pm

Cupidity wrote:
2LsAPlenty wrote:
Cupidity wrote:I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.



$ 1000 a week is pretty much the standard for the good small firms in the midwest. You can see higher and lower but that is the average.


A lot of small firms in Boston DC pay $10/15hr, probably because the market is saturated from all the schools.



Saturated here too. Last 2L job I applied for I followed up on since I did not hear back after the screening interview. I was told they had well over 150 applicants for 1 position, all with good grades. Looking at another possibility where they will pay me for billable hours but say it might be a part time gig depending on need. If something else does not turn up, I might take that and see if I can "dazzle" :lol: them and possible get an offer after the summer.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby romothesavior » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Law clerks at small law firms tend to make 15-30/hr with most firms paying around 20-25/hr from what I've seen. If the small law firm though is some IP boutique, etc., then of course it'd be much more. It's always hard to tell with small law firms since they can differ so much. I'd say expect 20-25.

I agree with this. If it is a reputable small firm with solid clientele, I'd ask for $20. If it is a really small firm (and it sounds like it is from your description), $15-18 might be more reasonable. I'd also adjust for the city. If we're talking Atlanta, I'd ask for a bit more than a secondary market.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby snowpeach06 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:05 pm

I've seen the $13-16 range. Depends on your area I guess.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby 20160810 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:05 pm

Ask him what he thinks the position is worth, get a figure, start from there.

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reformed calvinist
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Re: Small Firms

Postby reformed calvinist » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:39 pm

Cupidity wrote:I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.


If you don't mind my asking, how'd you land the job/what is the practice area?

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:43 pm

snowpeach06 wrote:I've seen the $13-16 range. Depends on your area I guess.



Hmmm, maybe we are paying too much :lol: We pay $ 1000 a week to summer associates and $ 25 an hour for project work. I have 1 at MIZZOU and 1 at CWR doing this project work right for our firm right now. I don't think they would like it if I lowered the rate :) . In all seriousness, a lot depends on the local market and the sophistication of the firm's practice. I believe our pay is pretty competitive for business firms in our market.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby snowpeach06 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:33 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
snowpeach06 wrote:I've seen the $13-16 range. Depends on your area I guess.



Hmmm, maybe we are paying too much :lol: We pay $ 1000 a week to summer associates and $ 25 an hour for project work. I have 1 at MIZZOU and 1 at CWR doing this project work right for our firm right now. I don't think they would like it if I lowered the rate :) . In all seriousness, a lot depends on the local market and the sophistication of the firm's practice. I believe our pay is pretty competitive for business firms in our market.

Geeze, I think I need to find a new small firm!

Sm Firm Hiring P
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Re: Small Firms

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:41 pm

snowpeach06 wrote:
Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
snowpeach06 wrote:I've seen the $13-16 range. Depends on your area I guess.



Hmmm, maybe we are paying too much :lol: We pay $ 1000 a week to summer associates and $ 25 an hour for project work. I have 1 at MIZZOU and 1 at CWR doing this project work right for our firm right now. I don't think they would like it if I lowered the rate :) . In all seriousness, a lot depends on the local market and the sophistication of the firm's practice. I believe our pay is pretty competitive for business firms in our market.

Geeze, I think I need to find a new small firm!



Sometimes things are relative Snowpeach. If you like your firm, that is a plus. It might depend on the type of law your firm practices. We have a fairly sophisticated practice and share several clients with the big firms and our founders came from big firms and moved their clients to our firm. We also use the program to identify full time hires, so while we can't compete with the big firms, we do try to be attractive, like our only 1750 billable requirement for full times. The two 2L contract workers from Case and Mizzou respectively are doing a pretty good job and we are able to bill a lot of their recorded time, so I have no problem paying that. Neither made it as the hire for our summer associate program (we hired a 1L and both of them applied real late) but I am a little surprised neither has been particularly aggressive in trying to find a way to be an additional summer associate even on a hybrid compensation basis to get their foot in the door since many times things change and opportunities open up. But, then I am only looking from the employer side and maybe they have lined up a nice summer job and just haven't told us.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Cupidity » Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:44 pm

reformed calvinist wrote:
Cupidity wrote:I'm getting $800/wk at a 10 person firm, granted their practice is sick.


If you don't mind my asking, how'd you land the job/what is the practice area?


I have a bit of work experience in the Labor and Employment field, so I targeted small firms specializing in it.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:09 am

I worked at a small firm 1L and 2L. First one paid $600 / wk and second one paid $900 / wk. Both of those numbers are adjusted to Dallas cost of living using Sperling's calculator. Both have relatively sophisticated practices for a small firm. I mean they do business law, gov't work, real estate, construction, etc. in addition to their probate/family practices. A lot of the other small firms in the areas do just criminal defense, personal injury, and divorce as probably 75% of their work. They don't hire SA's, but the few who have associates (the few who are not solo practitioners) generally pay them ~$35k per year. So obviously there can be a huge range of pay at small firms.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby ScrabbleChamp » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:53 am


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snowpeach06
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Re: Small Firms

Postby snowpeach06 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:18 pm

Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
snowpeach06 wrote:
Sm Firm Hiring P wrote:
snowpeach06 wrote:I've seen the $13-16 range. Depends on your area I guess.



Hmmm, maybe we are paying too much :lol: We pay $ 1000 a week to summer associates and $ 25 an hour for project work. I have 1 at MIZZOU and 1 at CWR doing this project work right for our firm right now. I don't think they would like it if I lowered the rate :) . In all seriousness, a lot depends on the local market and the sophistication of the firm's practice. I believe our pay is pretty competitive for business firms in our market.

Geeze, I think I need to find a new small firm!



Sometimes things are relative Snowpeach. If you like your firm, that is a plus. It might depend on the type of law your firm practices. We have a fairly sophisticated practice and share several clients with the big firms and our founders came from big firms and moved their clients to our firm. We also use the program to identify full time hires, so while we can't compete with the big firms, we do try to be attractive, like our only 1750 billable requirement for full times. The two 2L contract workers from Case and Mizzou respectively are doing a pretty good job and we are able to bill a lot of their recorded time, so I have no problem paying that. Neither made it as the hire for our summer associate program (we hired a 1L and both of them applied real late) but I am a little surprised neither has been particularly aggressive in trying to find a way to be an additional summer associate even on a hybrid compensation basis to get their foot in the door since many times things change and opportunities open up. But, then I am only looking from the employer side and maybe they have lined up a nice summer job and just haven't told us.

I do like my firm a lot. They do a lot of general legal work, but they also have an extensive First Amendment practice, and that really got my foot in the door for the public interest work I want to be doing, so, I'll be forever grateful for that. I think they also know that they can't hire me when I graduate (they won't even make the one associate at the firm a partner), so, they have been supportive with helping me find other opportunities. I didn't take the job for the money, I took it for the experience, so I guess I can't complain. But, some days I wind up spending half of what I make just to get to the office and park, so, it's a bit frustrating.

I can't speak for your Case student, but, in my experience as a Case student, most people are looking for different summer work - I'd say maybe 1/3 to half of the class have something lined up. However, most don't want to tell their employers until they have secured something or until the last possible moment. It's an awkward conversation to have, and I think a lot of people fear their employers won't react well if they know you are looking for something else. Like I said, I got lucky that I told my firm and they were supportive, but, I was terrified to do it. I thought I might be replaced immediately.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Sm Firm Hiring P » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:44 pm

[/quote]Sometimes things are relative Snowpeach. If you like your firm, that is a plus. It might depend on the type of law your firm practices. We have a fairly sophisticated practice and share several clients with the big firms and our founders came from big firms and moved their clients to our firm. We also use the program to identify full time hires, so while we can't compete with the big firms, we do try to be attractive, like our only 1750 billable requirement for full times. The two 2L contract workers from Case and Mizzou respectively are doing a pretty good job and we are able to bill a lot of their recorded time, so I have no problem paying that. Neither made it as the hire for our summer associate program (we hired a 1L and both of them applied real late) but I am a little surprised neither has been particularly aggressive in trying to find a way to be an additional summer associate even on a hybrid compensation basis to get their foot in the door since many times things change and opportunities open up. But, then I am only looking from the employer side and maybe they have lined up a nice summer job and just haven't told us.[/quote]
I do like my firm a lot. They do a lot of general legal work, but they also have an extensive First Amendment practice, and that really got my foot in the door for the public interest work I want to be doing, so, I'll be forever grateful for that. I think they also know that they can't hire me when I graduate (they won't even make the one associate at the firm a partner), so, they have been supportive with helping me find other opportunities. I didn't take the job for the money, I took it for the experience, so I guess I can't complain. But, some days I wind up spending half of what I make just to get to the office and park, so, it's a bit frustrating.

I can't speak for your Case student, but, in my experience as a Case student, most people are looking for different summer work - I'd say maybe 1/3 to half of the class have something lined up. However, most don't want to tell their employers until they have secured something or until the last possible moment. It's an awkward conversation to have, and I think a lot of people fear their employers won't react well if they know you are looking for something else. Like I said, I got lucky that I told my firm and they were supportive, but, I was terrified to do it. I thought I might be replaced immediately.[/quote]

Good for you and your honesty. I think it will serve you well and you don't burn any bridges that way. It is funny how opportunities and sending conflicts work and the like come and go around. I get the fear though and I know a lot of firms that would react the way you fear. We would not but I still get it. We prefer people who really want to be with us. We have had a couple of occasions where people got their foot in the door by seeking part time or contract work, proved themselves and ended up with the full time position. We have also had a few that preferred big law. Attorneys are a conservative (perhaps selfish sometimes) lot and it is hard getting them to commit to the hard costs of a full time hire. We will see if either of our project students step up. Anyway, good luck to you!

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Jhuen_the_bird » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:06 pm

Wow, ok, $800-$1000 a week is NOT the norm for small to mid-size firms in the midwest (medium - small cities). $12-$16 an hour is far more normal. These are typically "law clerk" positions and not "summer associate" positions, though. The big name firms pay much more, of course, for SA's.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby 2LsAPlenty » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:15 pm

Jhuen_the_bird wrote:Wow, ok, $800-$1000 a week is NOT the norm for small to mid-size firms in the midwest (medium - small cities). $12-$16 an hour is far more normal. These are typically "law clerk" positions and not "summer associate" positions, though. The big name firms pay much more, of course, for SA's.



How do you differentiate summer clerk from a SA? A lot of people using them interchangeably.

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Re: Small Firms

Postby Jhuen_the_bird » Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:38 pm

2LsAPlenty wrote:
Jhuen_the_bird wrote:Wow, ok, $800-$1000 a week is NOT the norm for small to mid-size firms in the midwest (medium - small cities). $12-$16 an hour is far more normal. These are typically "law clerk" positions and not "summer associate" positions, though. The big name firms pay much more, of course, for SA's.



How do you differentiate summer clerk from a SA? A lot of people using them interchangeably.



I'm just going by what firms in this area call it. Smaller and mid-size firms typically call their law student employees "law clerks" or something similar. You're really just a glorified secretary, except they'll let you do research b/c then they can mooch off your "free" lexis/westlaw access.

Bigger / prestigious firms in the area are the only ones that call law student employees "summer associates" and it's more of a "program" that originally was supposed to groom them to eventually be lawyers for the firm ... except now most firms don't want to hire anyone as an associate unless they have 3+ yrs experience which translates to "a book of business they can steal."




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