Should I negotiate for class bump?

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Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:19 pm

Have relevant working experience and a PhD. Doing patent prosecution. Have several offers (big law as well as boutique) and tempted to negotiate some. I heard about class year bump which apparently will be more money. But also read it could potential hurt due to more limited work as a result of higher rate - - is that really a concern if I've been told they are always pretty much buried with work? Should I negotiate for the bump? Or maybe something else? Or not at all?

Also, if I am bumped, does that higher class stick somehow if I lateral in the future?

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:03 am

I wouldn't do it because like you said, your billing rate would be higher. However, I wouldn't be concerned about having limited work. It's more that you would have to do the work in less time. That's not a situation that I would want to be in as a junior associate.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:47 am

I work at a boutique and got a bump. I don't think it has negatively impacted me at all. In fact I think in your first year or two a bump can help you because clients are more willing to pay the rates of someone with "experience." But if partners start to get the impression that your actual skills don't match your class yea (after some time) then you will probably run into problems getting staffed, that's a big problem.

Haven't tried to lateral, but i'm guessing it's situation dependent.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby favabeansoup » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:But if partners start to get the impression that your actual skills don't match your class yea (after some time) then you will probably run into problems getting staffed, that's a big problem.



OP I wouldn't try to go for it for this reason. It takes a lot of time to figure out how to best manage your practice. At least in my experience, responsibility on projects ramps up sharply around the 3rd year. If you are a technically a 3-4th year but really only doing the work of a 2nd year, people won't be giving you work, and that is really not good. I think you should only do it if you are really ready to set up.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:44 pm

OP here. Thanks for all the good suggestions.

Anonymous User wrote:I work at a boutique and got a bump. I don't think it has negatively impacted me at all. In fact I think in your first year or two a bump can help you because clients are more willing to pay the rates of someone with "experience." .

-- That's a very good point. So the client will see my bumped class year? I assume they will see my "real" class year as well by checking which year I joined the firm, right? Are you in prosecution and got the bump for PhD?

Anybody has any experience trying to get a bump at a later time? At the time of lateral move?

And if not negotiating for class bump, what can I possibly negotiate for? Either for money or for better career development?

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:02 pm

I've never really understood the appeal of class year bumps. It's an up or out model, why hasten the "out?"

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby What the f.supp? » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:05 pm

Signing bonus

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:53 pm

What the f.supp? wrote:Signing bonus


Yeah, something like this is legit. I get an extra "bonus" every year as a litigator because I have EECS Ph.D., patent pros experience, and really useful but uncommon language abilities (I speak 5 languages). Part of the deal was that I had to work/help out on FCPA cases that involve the languages I speak. And no one has to know about it, and you get to just progress at the rate of everyone else.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:57 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I've never really understood the appeal of class year bumps. It's an up or out model, why hasten the "out?"

Because you get paid more for doing the same work. Also, most firms don't have a strict "up and out" model; there's a fair amount of flexibility as to when/how you are forced out or when/how you are put up for partner. A class year bump is basically all upside for the associate.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:05 pm

rpupkin wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I've never really understood the appeal of class year bumps. It's an up or out model, why hasten the "out?"

Because you get paid more for doing the same work. Also, most firms don't have a strict "up and out" model; there's a fair amount of flexibility as to when/how you are forced out or when/how you are put up for partner. A class year bump is basically all upside for the associate.

I guess -- agreed it's not as strict as "one year class credit, one year sooner to be forced out." But there are specific expectations for what an associate of a certain level should be able to do, and prior experience notwithstanding, you won't necessarily know how to do it any sooner.

Frankly you even see this with people who clerked twice and come in as third years with no idea how to handle doc review or discovery. They figure it out, and the research and writing skills more than balance it out, but it seems like it can be a stressful learning curve.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:12 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:I guess -- agreed it's not as strict as "one year class credit, one year sooner to be forced out." But there are specific expectations for what an associate of a certain level should be able to do, and prior experience notwithstanding, you won't necessarily know how to do it any sooner.

I disagree. I don't think senior associates or partners make those kinds of distinctions when delegating or evaluating work. I honestly couldn't tell you who is a second-year associate and who is a third-year associate at my law firm. They all kind of blend together after awhile. But the third-year associate, between base and bonus, makes $50K more per year than the second-year associate.

Look, the vast majority of associates will last fewer than five years at a law firm. The guy/gal with a class-year bump will come out tens of thousands of dollars ahead when all is said and done. If a firm is willing to give you a class-year bump, you should take it.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:24 pm

rpupkin wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I guess -- agreed it's not as strict as "one year class credit, one year sooner to be forced out." But there are specific expectations for what an associate of a certain level should be able to do, and prior experience notwithstanding, you won't necessarily know how to do it any sooner.

I disagree. I don't think senior associates or partners make those kinds of distinctions when delegating or evaluating work. I honestly couldn't tell you who is a second-year associate and who is a third-year associate at my law firm. They all kind of blend together after awhile. But the third-year associate, between base and bonus, makes $50K more per year than the second-year associate.

Look, the vast majority of associates will last fewer than five years at a law firm. The guy/gal with a class-year bump will come out tens of thousands of dollars ahead when all is said and done. If a firm is willing to give you a class-year bump, you should take it.

Fair assessment

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thanks for all the good suggestions.

Anonymous User wrote:I work at a boutique and got a bump. I don't think it has negatively impacted me at all. In fact I think in your first year or two a bump can help you because clients are more willing to pay the rates of someone with "experience." .

-- That's a very good point. So the client will see my bumped class year? I assume they will see my "real" class year as well by checking which year I joined the firm, right? Are you in prosecution and got the bump for PhD?

Anybody has any experience trying to get a bump at a later time? At the time of lateral move?

And if not negotiating for class bump, what can I possibly negotiate for? Either for money or for better career development?


Anon here-
I work at a litigation boutique that doesn't do IP. I got a class year bump for other reasons. I have also heard of other people getting bumps for lateral moves when a firm really needs someone for a certain position.

The whole idea of a X year associate needs to do Y work is not really what I meant w/r/t staffing issues. I think the problem is really about billing rates and whether a partner wants to staff you for a certain type of work based on how you fit in the budget. If you can't do everything that is needed to justify your rate, it's harder to make you part of the team. At a smaller firm in particular, if you aren't trusted to do a specific task that task will often fall to the partner on the case (i.e. someone with a higher bill rate), not to other associates.

My firm actually promotes more than a de minims number of people to partner, but the partnership track is not a fixed number of years. At bigger firms that I interviewed with that offered the bump I was told that i would be on partner track with my law school class and not my salary/billing rate class.

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:29 pm

OP here. Thanks once again for the great information. Also wondering --
1. For those who got a class bump, did you ask for it, or did the firm offered it to begin with? If the former, how did you do it -- just say I've got an offer from somewhere else and would you consider a class bump -- not very good at this and suggestions will be appreciated.
2. Also, following up on this comment:
Anonymous User wrote: I get an extra "bonus" every year as a litigator because I have EECS Ph.D., patent pros experience, and really useful but uncommon language abilities (I speak 5 languages).

-- I guess this extra "bonus" were given after you working there for a while, correct? If so, again, did you ask for it, or do they offer it once they realize your additional value?

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Re: Should I negotiate for class bump?

Postby dood » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:02 pm

rpupkin wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:I guess -- agreed it's not as strict as "one year class credit, one year sooner to be forced out." But there are specific expectations for what an associate of a certain level should be able to do, and prior experience notwithstanding, you won't necessarily know how to do it any sooner.

I disagree. I don't think senior associates or partners make those kinds of distinctions when delegating or evaluating work. I honestly couldn't tell you who is a second-year associate and who is a third-year associate at my law firm. They all kind of blend together after awhile. But the third-year associate, between base and bonus, makes $50K more per year than the second-year associate.

Look, the vast majority of associates will last fewer than five years at a law firm. The guy/gal with a class-year bump will come out tens of thousands of dollars ahead when all is said and done. If a firm is willing to give you a class-year bump, you should take it.


100% accurate -- V20 5th year who is starting to rethink things



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