Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

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Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 08, 2020 12:32 pm

Mid-level associate thinking about a move from NYC to Nashville or some other mid-sized city in the south (where I have ties). I would only do this if I were aiming to make partner, but I can't seem to find much, if any, reliable information about partner compensation at the top tier firms in this region (e.g., Bass Berry, Frost Brown Todd). I'd love to get some data points if anyone has info.

Also, I'd be really interested to know about the partner compensation structure at these firms--eat what you kill, black box, lockstep, etc.?

FND

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by FND » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:Mid-level associate thinking about a move from NYC to Nashville or some other mid-sized city in the south (where I have ties). I would only do this if I were aiming to make partner, but I can't seem to find much, if any, reliable information about partner compensation at the top tier firms in this region (e.g., Bass Berry, Frost Brown Todd). I'd love to get some data points if anyone has info.

Also, I'd be really interested to know about the partner compensation structure at these firms--eat what you kill, black box, lockstep, etc.?
Frost Brown Todd's profit per partner is $453k. 1st year associates make $115k. Salaries are not lock-step.

It took me 3 minutes to google this. I'm kinda shocked that a mid-level associate is unable to do likewise.

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:23 pm

I'm always reluctant to use this forum because there are so many sad, angry people on here.

First, there are many, many top tier firms in the south that do not publicly disclose partner profits. As my original post made clear, I mentioned Frost as an example of the type of firm I'm looking at, but I'm interested in data points about any and all similar firms. And most of those firms have not publicly disclosed any information about partner profits.

Second, the amount you've quoted is not Frost's "profits per partner." It's Frost's profits per equity partner, and roughly 50% of Frost's partners are non-equity.

Third, I'm already aware of Frost's profits per equity partner. That is a marginally helpful data point. It could mean that some senior equity partners make 1M and many junior equity partners make hardly more than a senior associate.

To summarize, in case my original post was not clear (and I think it was), I'm interested in hearing from people who actually know something about firms in the south and could give me specific, helpful data points about the profits partners typically make at some of these firms and how those profits are distributed.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Second, the amount you've quoted is not Frost's "profits per partner." It's Frost's profits per equity partner, and roughly 50% of Frost's partners are non-equity.
Why would you count non-equity partners in PPP? They don't get paid out of the profits; they have salaries -- that's what "non-equity" means.
I'm interested in hearing from people who actually know something about firms in the south and could give me specific, helpful data points about the profits partners typically make at some of these firms and how those profits are distributed.
The answers you'll get to this query are useless anecdotes because this varies so much from city to city, firm to firm, and even among practice areas (e.g. the Nashville firms I'm familiar with have a lot of hotshot corporate rainmakers in their late 30's, thanks to the healthcare boom, who are probably doing pretty well among the equity partnership -- but there's no way of knowing if you'd get the same action).

Take the mean PPP of the top 5 firms in not-Nashville, decide if you'd be happy with that given the cost of living in not-Nashville, and then factor in senior-associate/NEP salary (which is pretty easy to find) as your worst-case scenario because, well, it is.

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:27 pm

A former partner at one of the Nashville firms once told me to look at Baker Donelson and Bradley’s PPP and that is probably what Waller and BBS are around.

Interviewed at BBS and was offered 160k for a 3rd year. Not sure if this was before or after the most recent round of raises they had. People had told me that 8th year eclipses 200k, but not by much. And bonuses were less than half of Cravath at the senior levels. From this, I’d assume non-equity partners at the Nashville firms earn low to mid-300ks.

This is one of the reasons why I decided not to go to Nashville. Nashville is cheap, but not that cheap.

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ghostoftraynor

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by ghostoftraynor » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:45 pm

Partner comp is a pretty weird thing to care about as an associate and going to vary widely by individual. At my (non-Nashville) firm, non-equity pay can vary by over 2x.

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:27 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Second, the amount you've quoted is not Frost's "profits per partner." It's Frost's profits per equity partner, and roughly 50% of Frost's partners are non-equity.
Why would you count non-equity partners in PPP? They don't get paid out of the profits; they have salaries -- that's what "non-equity" means.
I'm interested in hearing from people who actually know something about firms in the south and could give me specific, helpful data points about the profits partners typically make at some of these firms and how those profits are distributed.
The answers you'll get to this query are useless anecdotes because this varies so much from city to city, firm to firm, and even among practice areas (e.g. the Nashville firms I'm familiar with have a lot of hotshot corporate rainmakers in their late 30's, thanks to the healthcare boom, who are probably doing pretty well among the equity partnership -- but there's no way of knowing if you'd get the same action).

Take the mean PPP of the top 5 firms in not-Nashville, decide if you'd be happy with that given the cost of living in not-Nashville, and then factor in senior-associate/NEP salary (which is pretty easy to find) as your worst-case scenario because, well, it is.
Think you were missing OP's point about non-equity partners. PPP matters if you're an equity partner, doesn't matter if you're non-equity, so it's not that helpful to know the PPP of a firm where 50% of partners are non-equity (unless you're only interested in making equity partner). Also don't see why anecdotes are "useless" just because the profits vary. These aren't huge markets, so anecdotes about specific firms could be helpful. I'd like to hear more anecdotes if anyone has them because this is relevant to my interests.

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by FND » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote: Think you were missing OP's point about non-equity partners. PPP matters if you're an equity partner, doesn't matter if you're non-equity, so it's not that helpful to know the PPP of a firm where 50% of partners are non-equity (unless you're only interested in making equity partner). Also don't see why anecdotes are "useless" just because the profits vary. These aren't huge markets, so anecdotes about specific firms could be helpful. I'd like to hear more anecdotes if anyone has them because this is relevant to my interests.
OP was "aiming to make partner", which should mean equity partner. A non-equity partner is just an old associate. They don't make that much more than senior associates.

Edit: just saw a study that's admittedly a few years old, which showed that in 2016 the average equity partner compensation at the 350 largest firms was $1.1 million, and the average non-equity partner compensation was $367k
In 2017 the 10 most profitable firms had PPP ranging from $4m to $7m, and non-equity partners at those firms made under $1m each.
Non-equity partners don't make squat.

As for the rest, yeah, anecdotes do matter, especially in a small market. But there are very few lock-step firms left, and the compensation within a firm can vary significantly, with certain practice areas generally earning much more than other practice areas. (on average, M&A earns roughly double L&E)

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by ignatiusr » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:26 pm

FND wrote:
Anonymous User wrote: Think you were missing OP's point about non-equity partners. PPP matters if you're an equity partner, doesn't matter if you're non-equity, so it's not that helpful to know the PPP of a firm where 50% of partners are non-equity (unless you're only interested in making equity partner). Also don't see why anecdotes are "useless" just because the profits vary. These aren't huge markets, so anecdotes about specific firms could be helpful. I'd like to hear more anecdotes if anyone has them because this is relevant to my interests.
OP was "aiming to make partner", which should mean equity partner. A non-equity partner is just an old associate. They don't make that much more than senior associates.

Edit: just saw a study that's admittedly a few years old, which showed that in 2016 the average equity partner compensation at the 350 largest firms was $1.1 million, and the average non-equity partner compensation was $367k
In 2017 the 10 most profitable firms had PPP ranging from $4m to $7m, and non-equity partners at those firms made under $1m each.
Non-equity partners don't make squat.

As for the rest, yeah, anecdotes do matter, especially in a small market. But there are very few lock-step firms left, and the compensation within a firm can vary significantly, with certain practice areas generally earning much more than other practice areas. (on average, M&A earns roughly double L&E)
This probably depends on the person, but to me the appeal of partnership is as much about job stability as it is about income (though both are important). In that sense, being a non-equity partner is quite different from being an associate. Being an associate is a lot like walking a very short plank. At least non-equity partners have some measure of confidence that they aren't going to get forced out of their jobs within the next couple years. Making 4-7M would be great, but making well into six figures in a stable, long-term job doesn't sound that bad either.

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FND

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by FND » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:44 am

ignatiusr wrote:non-equity partners have some measure of confidence that they aren't going to get forced out of their jobs within the next couple years.
it's not the '90s. If a firm is struggling, non-equity partners are just as likely to get laid off as anyone else. Remember, there's very little work that a non-equity partner can do that a senior associate can't do, and a senior associate is noticeably cheaper.

The only real stability is having your own set of clients that'll follow you wherever you go.... and even that could dry up during a crisis.

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by ghostoftraynor » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:36 pm

It depends on the firm, but a lot of firms force out non-equity partners if they don't get shares in time. Yes, you have great job security the four years or so before you are up for equity. But, the odds of getting past that are extremely low.

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PeanutsNJam

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Re: Nashville + other southern cities - partner profits?

Post by PeanutsNJam » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:39 pm

Everybody knows non-share partners are basically super senior associates or of-counsel. They just get the title so they can say they’re a partner for biz dev purposes.

The PPP metric is meaningless if you include non-share partners, and I doubt that is tracked. If you’re curious about accounting for leverage and the like, look up PPL.

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