Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

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Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:15 pm

Hi,

For those of us who won't make partner at a Big Firm (i.e. most of us) I was wondering what the "smaller law firm" exit option would look like. I'd hate to be making $$$ and then make less than $100k (I know this sounds incredibly entitled, but any >50% salary cut really sucks, especially when you are doing the same amount of work/same expectations.)

Here are a few smaller/mid-sized firms that have lots of ex-Big Law types. Both do commercial litigation, not slip-n-fall personal injury stuff and are based downtown in LA. Any guesses at salaries at these types of places?

--LinkRemoved--
http://www.sfmslaw.com/

This is an area where those of us who don't have info would really appreciate advice! I'm sure other people are curious, and none of this information is publicly available like on NALP or other law firm salary websites.

Napt
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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Napt » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any guesses at salaries at these types of places?

--LinkRemoved--
http://www.sfmslaw.com/

Probably about $100k for first years and a bit more for laterals.

Lateraling to a smaller law firm doesn't seem like a very attractive exit option to me tbh. Same hours and worse pay.

ETA: I didn't look at SFMS at first. I'd expect Brown to be about $100k and SFMS to be around $75k.
Last edited by Napt on Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:31 pm

Napt wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any guesses at salaries at these types of places?

--LinkRemoved--
http://www.sfmslaw.com/

Probably about $100k for first years and a bit more for laterals.

Lateraling to a smaller law firm doesn't seem like a very attractive exit option to me tbh. Same hours and worse pay.


OP here:

But the reality is for a lot of people, the "lateral" isn't really optional....and making more than $100k is still quite a lot of money tbh.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Napt » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Napt wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any guesses at salaries at these types of places?

--LinkRemoved--
http://www.sfmslaw.com/

Probably about $100k for first years and a bit more for laterals.

Lateraling to a smaller law firm doesn't seem like a very attractive exit option to me tbh. Same hours and worse pay.


OP here:

But the reality is for a lot of people, the "lateral" isn't really optional....and making more than $100k is still quite a lot of money tbh.

I meant not as attractive as in-house or government or business or some other work.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:35 pm

Here's another one -

http://www.severson.com/

There are a LOT of these firms and NO salary data. And it is where MOST of us will end up after a few years in big law.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:30 pm

I'm starting at a firm like this in the DC area after graduation as a first-year associate and my salary will be $88k. I'd imagine that a lateral with experience gets paid more. It really isn't BigLaw hours at all, I'd estimate that our 3rd year associate (who joined last year after 2 years at Jones Day) works 60 hours a week max, and it's rare for partners to be there after 6.

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ggocat
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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby ggocat » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:There are a LOT of these firms and NO salary data. And it is where MOST of us will end up after a few years in big law.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but is it true most biglaw washouts are able to lateral to small/mid-sized firms (assuming you don't make partner because you suck at attracting business).

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:31 pm

I know of two 3L's who are taking jobs at mid-sized firms in a fairly low cost of living Midwest city. Think Kansas City, Wichita, Omaha, etc. They'd be considered small firms by NYC standards at 20-50 attorneys. Both of them will make around $55k-$60k, and both firms employ a number of former biglaw associates.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:13 am

Just found out a friend of mine is working at a mid-sized (100?) firm in SF and will be making $75k. I found that pretty surprisingly low.

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2LsAPlenty
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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby 2LsAPlenty » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:35 am

Midwest small to mid size firms that have a good practice (not general practice) generally range from $60- $85,000. Specialty boutiques might be more.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:52 am

I'm starting at a firm with a bit over 100 attys at $145k (for first years). There's just a lot of variance out there when you get out of the V100.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:40 pm

There are some boutiques that pay above market. I was employed as paralegal-type at a boutique firm in Atlanta for a while. The associates were paid over $100k (I don't know the exact number but probably close to the $135k market), and the only partner I got a chance to get to know made over $1m a year. I hear that Texas has boutiques paying >$160k to first year associates in Dallas and Houston.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:There are some boutiques that pay above market. I was employed as paralegal-type at a boutique firm in Atlanta for a while. The associates were paid over $100k (I don't know the exact number but probably close to the $135k market), and the only partner I got a chance to get to know made over $1m a year. I hear that Texas has boutiques paying >$160k to first year associates in Dallas and Houston.


Same poster as quoting from. I was worried editing would override the anonymity.

I forgot to add that these firms often have stricter hiring practices than biglaw. At my law school, the biglaw firm cutoffs range from top 20% to top 50%, while the high-paying boutique firms often require top 10-20% and law review.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby legalese_retard » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:51 pm

I wish there was better salary info out there, but that is the nature of how these firms opperate. Most smaller firms have opaque salary structures. The person sitting next to you might be getting paid tens of thousands of dollars more than you as his or her base. For example, I had two friends who were going to start at the same firm two years out of law school. One was lateraling from Jones Day, the other was moving from the local DA's office. The person from Jones Day was offered $110K/year. The one from the DA was offered $80K/year.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Brassica7 » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:23 pm

I am going to work this summer at a firm in a secondary market which I believe some former biglaw types transfer into after a few years in NYC or other major markets. The pay starts off around $110k for a first year. I am not sure what the salary progression is, but I imagine the pay would be higher for someone with a few years of experience.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:35 pm

The non-NYC lit boutique I will be at this summer pays first year associates $160k. I am not sure where it goes from there. Firm size is between 15 and 50 attorneys. It does not hire associates every year.

FWIW, the Firm has only one lateral associate (and it was under very special circumstances). All other associates are homegrown out of the summer program.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby nervous1 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Just found out a friend of mine is working at a mid-sized (100?) firm in SF and will be making $75k. I found that pretty surprisingly low.


OP here:

Can you out the firm? (no one will know who your friend is, or who you are...)
:lol:

I wonder if there is a gap in the work that $60-80k firms do and the $100-120k firms do.....location also seems to play a role although the $75k in SF is disconcerting. What kind of work do they do? Are the attorneys mostly former Big Law types??? Where do they generally recruit from (top 15 vs. TTT)???

I figure I'm doing all of us heading into Big Law a public service, getting this salary data out there! MORE posts please, and thank you for those who have offered anecdotal salary data.

This should really get more attention; I don't know why everyone thinks they will make partner or lateral to a cushy in-house job, both are not easy paths, especially if you do commercial litigation (catch all for law firm litigation work for early associates).

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby ben4847 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:05 am

A friend of mine works at a mid size in NYC which pays its associates about 60k, and the salary does not really move much from there.
The billables target is 1850 (if I recall), but the associates are usually billing closer to 22-2300.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:38 am

Working at a midsize firm in the midwest (200 to 250 attorneys); first-year associate salary is about $100,000 and just north of 1800 billable hours

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:41 am

Anonymous User wrote:Working at a midsize firm in the midwest (200 to 250 attorneys); first-year associate salary is about $100,000 and just north of 1800 billable hours

Mind if I ask what city?

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:06 am

ben4847 wrote:A friend of mine works at a mid size in NYC which pays its associates about 60k, and the salary does not really move much from there.
The billables target is 1850 (if I recall), but the associates are usually billing closer to 22-2300.


I figure there is a big difference in the kind of work firms like these do vs. the ones that pay 80-90k starting. Can't imagine anyone lateraling from a V100 firm to a place that starts and pays around 60k....

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Working at a midsize firm in the midwest (200 to 250 attorneys); first-year associate salary is about $100,000 and just north of 1800 billable hours

Mind if I ask what city?



Akron, OH

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:34 pm

DC regulatory boutiques usually pay between $110-$145k.

For instance, a quick look through Chambers/NALP shows:

Beveridge and Diamond (Environmental) starts at $110k ($125k for billing 1800 hours).
Epstein Green & Becker (Healthcare) starts at $130k.
Lerman Senter (Telecommunications) starts at $110k.
Caplin & Drysdale (Tax) starts at $145k.
Keller & Heckman (FDA) starts at $125k.

Etc, etc.

As far as you can trust NALP numbers on stuff like this, the boutiques seem to require between 1600-1950 billables - so there may be a legit pay/QOL tradeoff for firms like these.

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:27 pm

This is slightly off-topic, I suppose, but I am curious what the really elite litigation boutiques pay. I don't actually expect to get these, but do places like Bartlit Beck, Kellogg, Robbins Russell, etc pay market? They get some of the most impressive people, and while some of that I'm sure has to do with offering responsibility early, I can't imagine that their pay isn't good. I know Quinn/Boies/Susman end up paying above market due to high bonuses, so I sort of suspect that the elite boutiques I just mentioned might as well. Is this true? Also, these places are easier to make partner at. But what is the PPP at these places like? Do partners make as much as biglaw partners?

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Re: Salary at boutique/mid-sized firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:16 pm

Definitely depends on the firm. The best-regarded "boutique" firms in my city pay biglaw salaries ($160k starting).




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