Black box mayhem at Law Firm

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LurkerTurnedMember

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby LurkerTurnedMember » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:54 pm

jchiles wrote:
LurkerTurnedMember wrote:Why not casually being it up to the HR person who did your onboarding process? Say something like, "Thank you very much for helping me with the onboarding process. I do have one more question I'm hoping you could clarify. At the time I began working and accepted the position at [firm name], I thought based on the information available to me that my current pay, X, was the standard for attorneys at my class year. I recently realized that this pay is below the summer and first-year associate pay. Is it possible to increase my salary to match the salaries of other attorneys at my class level?
If not, is there a reason for the salary difference? Thank you for any clarification you can give."

And if the person tells you it's cause you accepted the offer that way well.. They're right and you can't be mad at them really. You should've asked more questions during the interview/negotiation process. "Do you have a standard salary scale for this office? What is that scale? Will my salary be [number that corresponds to your class year]?"


How do you casually ask HR to raise your salary by tens of thousands of dollars? It's not like there is any way they would just be like "oh sorry our mistake we will pay you many more dollars next month"


How do you land in a salary below the standard for your class? If there's a standard then the firm usually just gives that without negotiation. So it's already a weird situation. It's ok to approach the hr person if he doesn't frame it as "give me tens of thousands of dollars" but more as a "will my next pay bump take me to the standard and when would that be" so they are (1) aware he knows of the pay difference and (2) know taking him there would just be the standard.

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law&disorder

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby law&disorder » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:At Jones Day (the original black box), its usually laterals who get paid MORE. I haven seen laterals come in at a 30% higher salary then the home grown folks.

Interested in learning more about this -- assuming you're at JD, were these laterals superstars or was there just an urgent need? PM me if you're okay with discussing since this may be relevant to me in the near future.

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rpupkin

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:27 am

Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.

gregfootball2001

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby gregfootball2001 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:53 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.

What's "big law" in this context? My firm has about 115 lawyers over 4 offices, no staff attorneys. A few older 'of counsel' attorneys, but otherwise just partner-track associates/senior associates.

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SmokeytheBear

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby SmokeytheBear » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:04 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.


LA satellite office of NY firm. No staff attorneys here.

dixiecupdrinking

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:37 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.


LA satellite office of NY firm. No staff attorneys here.

But do they have them in NY? (Or, say, an office park in West Virginia?)

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LaLiLuLeLo

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby LaLiLuLeLo » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:03 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.


LA satellite office of NY firm. No staff attorneys here.

But do they have them in NY? (Or, say, an office park in West Virginia?)


In a similar boat as smokey. We have none in our office, and there are fewer than 10 across all the offices, both US and international.

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cron1834

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby cron1834 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:16 pm

Making $50 grand less than same-year attorneys at a biglaw firm that claims not to have staff attorneys? Just sounds like a staff attorney to me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1styearlateral

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby 1styearlateral » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:11 pm

Compadre wrote:I'm an associate, on partner track (supposedly).

"Supposedly???" How do you not know? You must have been given some sort of document, whether it be an offer letter or post-offer summary, describing your position, salary, benefits, bonus, etc. Do you have your own office? Are there other associates in your position?

Also, IME, black box compensation is used to refer to the pay raise and bonus structure of the firm, not the starting pay (i.e., all incoming associates at firm ABC get paid $x). When I interviewed with black box firms, I always asked "how much do you start your associates at" which would give me an idea of how much I could ask for in compensation given my class year.

Sounds like you're a staff attorney.

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rpupkin

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:53 pm

gregfootball2001 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.

What's "big law" in this context? My firm has about 115 lawyers over 4 offices, no staff attorneys. A few older 'of counsel' attorneys, but otherwise just partner-track associates/senior associates.

Does your firm pay big-law market (i.e., Cravath scale or close to it)?

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rpupkin

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:55 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.


LA satellite office of NY firm. No staff attorneys here.

But do they have them in NY? (Or, say, an office park in West Virginia?)


In a similar boat as smokey. We have none in our office, and there are fewer than 10 across all the offices, both US and international.

Yeah, I know there are big-law offices (especially satellite offices) that don't have staff attorneys. I was curious if there were any big-law firms that truly don't hire staff attorneys at all.

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sublime

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby sublime » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:36 pm

I can't imagine clients being thrilled about being billed associate rates for a lot of the work we give to staff attorneys, so I wonder how they would navigate that without cutting the shit out of their rates.

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SmokeytheBear

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby SmokeytheBear » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:42 pm

LaLiLuLeLo wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.


LA satellite office of NY firm. No staff attorneys here.

But do they have them in NY? (Or, say, an office park in West Virginia?)


In a similar boat as smokey. We have none in our office, and there are fewer than 10 across all the offices, both US and international.


Not sure. We don't have much dialogue with our other US offices. But my guess would be none based on how the firm operates and bills.

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rpupkin

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby rpupkin » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:52 pm

sublime wrote:I can't imagine clients being thrilled about being billed associate rates for a lot of the work we give to staff attorneys, so I wonder how they would navigate that without cutting the shit out of their rates.

This is my instinct as well. That's why I asked the guy at the four-office, 115-person firm if the firm paid associates big-law market salaries. If you pay associates below market (which makes it easier to bill out those associates at low rates), I can see how you could get away without staff attorneys.

Another possible answer is that a firm could rely entirely on contract attorneys for staff-attorney type work. But I'm not sure how viable that is. It seems like that model would result in junior associates doing staff-attorney-type tasks—which, as sublime points out, could lead to complaints from clients.

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:00 pm

The question remaining is how realistic is it for a non-staff attorney associate being paid 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars less than an associate of the same class year to get an increase to equal their class year in a black box system. This type of pay system is common in mid law and regional firms that compete with big law in their respective markets.

gregfootball2001

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Re: Black box mayhem at Am Law 100 Firm

Postby gregfootball2001 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:40 pm

rpupkin wrote:
gregfootball2001 wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
Compadre wrote:Firm said they don't have staff attorney positions

I'm curious: does anyone out there work at a big law firm that doesn't employ staff attorneys? I've never heard of a big law firm that doesn't do so. I wonder if this firm has decided—perhaps as a recruiting strategy—to retitle their staff-attorney positions as "associates," even though folks hired into those positions still get paid like staff attorneys.

What's "big law" in this context? My firm has about 115 lawyers over 4 offices, no staff attorneys. A few older 'of counsel' attorneys, but otherwise just partner-track associates/senior associates.

Does your firm pay big-law market (i.e., Cravath scale or close to it)?

All our offices are in secondary markets, so definitely not Cravath. We made market before the raise, but didn't get raises, so make less than market now. I also believe that our raises in general are more compressed than Cravath standard.



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