Pay Range at Boutique / Small Firms?

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Anonymous User
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Pay Range at Boutique / Small Firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:22 am

Hi all, I recently interviewed at a four-attorney firm that holds itself out as a litigation boutique, primarily doing plaintiff's work for business clients. I don't want to ask the firm this at this point, but I have been curious. The pay range for such firms is so great (based on what I hear from colleagues at other similar firms, though two are at IP boutiques, so I don't know if that compares) - how low or how high could their starting salary be? Do these firms start young associates on pure salary? They have so much work that each partner/associate comes in for 12 hour days. It also has what seems to be an unspoken five-year partner track. Is that a positive?

I would really appreciate any input on this! It's between this firm, midlaw ($80K, 1800 billable hours), and state government (low-$50sK, likely 9-5) (I've been doing a lot of self-searching for what sort of pay/work hours balance I want in my life, and so have been exploring as many possibilities as appeal to me), and any information on pay at a boutique like this would help a lot. TIA!

TheProsecutor
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Re: Pay Range at Boutique / Small Firms?

Postby TheProsecutor » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:31 am

I think that geographic considerations would allow more accurate responses. What is their billing structure? Do they bill by the hour or do they take a percentage the winnings?

Given the signals you've suggested so far: 4 attorney (small); Plaintiffs work (non-billiable hour), I think pay will be under 70k but greater than 50k.

But because it is a firm that is small, no one can give you an accurate estimate. If they give you an offer, they'll also disclose your salary.

Anonymous User
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Re: Pay Range at Boutique / Small Firms?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:41 am

Thank you for the response!

I got mixed messages as to their billing structure, to be honest. They said that they do not focus on hours spent on each client, because unlike in biglaw, (this is how they phrased it, not my own opinion) their way of practice is not squeezing extra hours out, but getting each client exactly what it wants. However, they mentioned writing down hours, and mentioned that some clients end up having to pay them more than that client even wins in a case because of the hours put in on some cases. I felt uncomfortable asking whether they bill by the hour vs. take cases on contingency. It sounded like they bill by the hour, but didn't want to admit it.

I know I will find out if I receive an offer. In the meantime, I do have a couple of other interviews, and want to continue focusing on my job search, and am not sure where I want to set my sights exactly from here on out. Going all over the map like I have been doing is tiring, and I'm wanting to make up my mind soon, which I'm hoping to do now that I've spoken with attorneys in each practice area I was considered. ~60K for 12-hour days doesn't seem quite worth it to me, no matter how badly I want to litigate. (I know I potentially sound like an ass saying that in this economy, but it is how I feel.)

TheProsecutor
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Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 12:50 pm

Re: Pay Range at Boutique / Small Firms?

Postby TheProsecutor » Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:47 am

You don't sound like an ass at all. You sound intelligent. I wouldn't want to work 12 hour days for 60k either. Actually, you sound like you're in a secondary market or a low cost of living area. I would do the midlaw thing - you can definitely get some litigation chops in midlaw and make some pretty nice coin while you're at it. 1800 hours is really easy. It essentially works out to 9-6:30 every day with plenty of time for a life. If you want to do state government later, you can go there with more seniority and command a higher salary than starting out now.

Partnership track at the Plaintiffs firm is five years, but I wonder how many people actually make partner? With only four attorneys and 12 hour days, it seems you are at the whim of the personalities of the people you work with. Even if one of those people is a jerk, you're gonna have a horrible time.




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