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Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:47 am
by Ultramar vistas
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:43 am
by LHand1993
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
You’re missing a key downside of eat what you kill comp: it sets up incentives that are counter to a client’s best interest. The idea of lockstep is that the partner(s) best suited to tackle a client’s matter will be brought in to work on that matter, without a partner feeling the financial pressure of having given up work. Eat what you kill incentivizes the partner who currently has the matter to be less collaborative and the final work product may suffer because of this.

I’m not saying this always happens, but the incentives are certainly set up counter to client interest under eat what you kill.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:59 am
by Ultramar vistas
LHand1993 wrote:
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
You’re missing a key downside of eat what you kill comp: it sets up incentives that are counter to a client’s best interest. The idea of lockstep is that the partner(s) best suited to tackle a client’s matter will be brought in to work on that matter, without a partner feeling the financial pressure of having given up work. Eat what you kill incentivizes the partner who currently has the matter to be less collaborative and the final work product may suffer because of this.

I’m not saying this always happens, but the incentives are certainly set up counter to client interest under eat what you kill.
Yeah except that in reality, this isn’t how it works under any EWYK system I know of? Maybe at some super small firms with very simplistic models but that isn’t really what we’re talking about.

You get credit for origination and managing the relationship, not for hoarding work. If anything, partners that generate collaborative opportunities for other partners are rewarded more highly for spreading billable hours around. Rainmakers are not incentivized to hoard their work under an intelligently managed EWYK system, they are incentivized to bring it in and spread it around, and that’s what I see every day at work. Often the original relationship partner is completely invisible on the deal, they just intro the beginning and check in occasionally.

The practice of law isn’t some kind of special, unique diamond; it’s just client services. Usually, whatever system incentivizes the associates/partners the most is going to be “good” for the client too. And let’s be clear - at EWYK firms there are plenty of equity partners buoyed by the success of the firm but who are not rainmakers in themselves; they serve institutional clients or have particular skills and experience. There is just flexibility in the system to make sure the folks bringing in the whales don’t go elsewhere. AKA a normal business model that for some reason the senior folks at Cravath resent (I wonder why that could be?).

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:10 am
by objctnyrhnr
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
Appreciate the detail, but I already knew all of this. Sounds quite similar to what occurs at my v20.

To summarize, my understanding at my firm and peer firms these days are:

Associates get paid market lockstep with potential above market bonuses if they are very good (determined by evals) and/or exceeded hours target by some % defined each year.

Equity partners’ salaries are more complex. I think they have some base comp via distributions. Then they service cases in their expertise (ie run them) and get some small piece of the hours THEY (alone) bill for that. But then they can also leverage their relationships (ie origination) even when the work has nothing to do with their practice. In this scenario, they get some % off the top of all billable profits from the service partners and the associates and this is where the money can really be made.

So my question is what it is at Kirkland that’s different, particularly as it pertains to associates/associate Comp.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:11 am
by LHand1993
Ultramar vistas wrote:
LHand1993 wrote:
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
You’re missing a key downside of eat what you kill comp: it sets up incentives that are counter to a client’s best interest. The idea of lockstep is that the partner(s) best suited to tackle a client’s matter will be brought in to work on that matter, without a partner feeling the financial pressure of having given up work. Eat what you kill incentivizes the partner who currently has the matter to be less collaborative and the final work product may suffer because of this.

I’m not saying this always happens, but the incentives are certainly set up counter to client interest under eat what you kill.
Yeah except that in reality, this isn’t how it works under any EWYK system I know of? Maybe at some super small firms with very simplistic models but that isn’t really what we’re talking about.

You get credit for origination and managing the relationship, not for hoarding work. If anything, partners that generate collaborative opportunities for other partners are rewarded more highly for spreading billable hours around. Rainmakers are not incentivized to hoard their work under an intelligently managed EWYK system, they are incentivized to bring it in and spread it around, and that’s what I see every day at work. Often the original relationship partner is completely invisible on the deal, they just intro the beginning and check in occasionally.

The practice of law isn’t some kind of special, unique diamond; it’s just client services. Usually, whatever system incentivizes the associates/partners the most is going to be “good” for the client too. And let’s be clear - at EWYK firms there are plenty of equity partners buoyed by the success of the firm but who are not rainmakers in themselves; they serve institutional clients or have particular skills and experience. There is just flexibility in the system to make sure the folks bringing in the whales don’t go elsewhere. AKA a normal business model that for some reason the senior folks at Cravath resent (I wonder why that could be?).
Sure, it doesn't always happen and the incentives can be countered under a properly managed system, but the incentives are still there.

Also under a partnership model, the "normal" business model is equal share of profits and losses. So lockstep comp in law firms isn't treating law as something unique, it's treating it the same as any other partnership.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:32 am
by Ultramar vistas
objctnyrhnr wrote:
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
Appreciate the detail, but I already knew all of this. Sounds quite similar to what occurs at my v20.

To summarize, my understanding at my firm and peer firms these days are:

Associates get paid market lockstep with potential above market bonuses if they are very good (determined by evals) and/or exceeded hours target by some % defined each year.

Equity partners’ salaries are more complex. I think they have some base comp via distributions. Then they service cases in their expertise (ie run them) and get some small piece of the hours THEY (alone) bill for that. But then they can also leverage their relationships (ie origination) even when the work has nothing to do with their practice. In this scenario, they get some % off the top of all billable profits from the service partners and the associates and this is where the money can really be made.

So my question is what it is at Kirkland that’s different, particularly as it pertains to associates/associate Comp.
Nothing particularly, was anyone suggesting that it was? K&E tends to give 1.3x the market bonus but that’s it.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:46 am
by 2013
Kirkland is clearly doing something right. High RPL, PPP, PPL. I think some of this has to do with the non-equity “partner” title it gives to hundreds of senior associates that other firms don’t seem to follow (or can’t follow) for some reason.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:15 pm
by trebekismyhero
Ultramar vistas wrote:
LHand1993 wrote:
Ultramar vistas wrote:
objctnyrhnr wrote:Anybody want to explain this Kirkland setup that everybody’s talking about?

I’m in the dark on that.
Eat what you kill?

Like I say, not really Kirkland specific anymore, but essentially historically law firms paid everybody in each class year the same, from first years to partners. This model is called “lockstep”. People liked it back in the day because law firms saw themselves as operating differently to normal businesses, and thought the lockstep concept kept everyone collegial and from stepping on other people’s toes. A first year partner could be the biggest rain making rockstar and he or she would still be making the same as every other first year (and significantly less than a senior partner at the end of his or her career).

This lockstep model obviously still applies to almost every V30 law firm at the associate level; they all pay the same at each class year and it’s all very open and public. But some law firms realized that as much as “lockstep” made partners “collegial” with each other, it also bred resentment and did not appropriately incentivize business development and the expansion of the firm’s footprint.

Much like Soviet Russia, lockstep partners were expected to do everything they could for the good of the firm as a whole, knowing that one day, when they’re too old to actually enjoy their Ferrari, they too would be paid a lot more money.

Eat what you kill firms looked at this model like good, red blooded, capitalist Americans and said, this model sucks. And they started paying partners based on a whole mix of factors depending on the firm, but usually based in large part on the size of a partner’s book of business.

Unsurprisingly, young rainmakers are generally keen to get compensated for what they are worth as early as possible, and lockstep firms get quite prickly and defensive about the whole thing. But that’s America, you know? Gotta play the game.
You’re missing a key downside of eat what you kill comp: it sets up incentives that are counter to a client’s best interest. The idea of lockstep is that the partner(s) best suited to tackle a client’s matter will be brought in to work on that matter, without a partner feeling the financial pressure of having given up work. Eat what you kill incentivizes the partner who currently has the matter to be less collaborative and the final work product may suffer because of this.

I’m not saying this always happens, but the incentives are certainly set up counter to client interest under eat what you kill.
Yeah except that in reality, this isn’t how it works under any EWYK system I know of? Maybe at some super small firms with very simplistic models but that isn’t really what we’re talking about.

You get credit for origination and managing the relationship, not for hoarding work. If anything, partners that generate collaborative opportunities for other partners are rewarded more highly for spreading billable hours around. Rainmakers are not incentivized to hoard their work under an intelligently managed EWYK system, they are incentivized to bring it in and spread it around, and that’s what I see every day at work. Often the original relationship partner is completely invisible on the deal, they just intro the beginning and check in occasionally.

The practice of law isn’t some kind of special, unique diamond; it’s just client services. Usually, whatever system incentivizes the associates/partners the most is going to be “good” for the client too. And let’s be clear - at EWYK firms there are plenty of equity partners buoyed by the success of the firm but who are not rainmakers in themselves; they serve institutional clients or have particular skills and experience. There is just flexibility in the system to make sure the folks bringing in the whales don’t go elsewhere. AKA a normal business model that for some reason the senior folks at Cravath resent (I wonder why that could be?).
Exactly right. EWYK is the model at the vast majority of firms besides Cravath. My old firm had a few really big rainmakers and they were on like half the deals they brought in. They delegated to other partners and associates. They always brought in the sector experts to get the job done for the clients cause as you said it is a client service business. Partners get paid the most by origination credit so they aren't incentivized to not bring in other attorneys. Now sometimes they don't want to share proliferation credit (or however other firms call it) but that impacts internal firm politics, not the service to the clients.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:17 pm
by cavalier1138
2013 wrote:Kirkland is clearly doing something right. High RPL, PPP, PPL. I think some of this has to do with the non-equity “partner” title it gives to hundreds of senior associates that other firms don’t seem to follow (or can’t follow) for some reason.
Other firms do that. They just don't pretend that those lawyers are actually partners; they call them "of counsel" or a similar title.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:35 pm
by QContinuum
cavalier1138 wrote:
2013 wrote:Kirkland is clearly doing something right. High RPL, PPP, PPL. I think some of this has to do with the non-equity “partner” title it gives to hundreds of senior associates that other firms don’t seem to follow (or can’t follow) for some reason.
Other firms do that. They just don't pretend that those lawyers are actually partners; they call them "of counsel" or a similar title.
I don't actually think Kirkland's peer firms elevate associates to counsel at year 6. Counsel's usually more of an "optional" post-year-8 title. Some go directly to equity partner without ever becoming counsel. Others get promoted to counsel first before being promoted again to partner. Still others get promoted to counsel and never get promoted to partner.

At Kirkland, in contrast, every associate who makes it to year 6 gets the "partner" tag. Every. Single. One. With no exceptions. It's both earlier than any other firm promotes associates to counsel, and, as noted above, at other firms associates don't automatically get the "counsel" tag based on seniority.

(Other note: "Of counsel" usually refers to retired partners who're still hanging around on some kind of part-time basis, and maintain an office at the firm. I imagine there's some firm politics involved in whether a retired partner gets to transition to "of counsel", or gets offboarded entirely.)

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:45 pm
by Ultramar vistas
QContinuum wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
2013 wrote:Kirkland is clearly doing something right. High RPL, PPP, PPL. I think some of this has to do with the non-equity “partner” title it gives to hundreds of senior associates that other firms don’t seem to follow (or can’t follow) for some reason.
Other firms do that. They just don't pretend that those lawyers are actually partners; they call them "of counsel" or a similar title.
I don't actually think Kirkland's peer firms elevate associates to counsel at year 6. Counsel's usually more of an "optional" post-year-8 title. Some go directly to equity partner without ever becoming counsel. Others get promoted to counsel first before being promoted again to partner. Still others get promoted to counsel and never get promoted to partner.

At Kirkland, in contrast, every associate who makes it to year 6 gets the "partner" tag. Every. Single. One. With no exceptions. It's both earlier than any other firm promotes associates to counsel, and, as noted above, at other firms associates don't automatically get the "counsel" tag based on seniority.

(Other note: "Of counsel" usually refers to retired partners who're still hanging around on some kind of part-time basis, and maintain an office at the firm. I imagine there's some firm politics involved in whether a retired partner gets to transition to "of counsel", or gets offboarded entirely.)
Agree, it’s not at all like of-counsel as that term was traditionally used. Although the poster is correct that some firms (Weil, I think, recently?) are starting to use counsel as an express stepping stone to Partner.

I’ll also again push back on the notion that K&E is unique here. The only uniqueness is that they were early to the practice of making NSPs, and aren’t ashamed to advertise it. An enormous number, possibly a majority, of the AmLaw 100 now have a non equity track. For some reason many of them don’t want to admit it, but they do.

Also, K&E associates get the NSP title at the beginning of year 7, and it’s by no means automatic. I’ve seen more than a few associates get held back a year, or be told during their year 5 review that NSP is likely not on the cards for them. The title is not handed out to people they think haven’t earned it. It’s obviously a lower bar than equity though.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:50 pm
by QContinuum
Ultramar vistas wrote:Also, K&E associates get the NSP title at the beginning of year 7, and it’s by no means automatic. I’ve seen more than a few associates get held back a year, or be told during their year 5 review that NSP is likely not on the cards for them. The title is not handed out to people they think haven’t earned it. It’s obviously a lower bar than equity though.
Yes, sorry I misspoke about the year 6 thing - should've said after year 6. Still, that's earlier than other firms promote to counsel, as far as I know.

As for associates being told "NSP is likely not on the cards," though, how is that really different from other firms pushing out midlevels/seniors who're unlikely to make (equity) partner? Once you get to the end of year 5 that's prime pushing-out time. I don't think there's a unique post-year-6 cull at Kirkland - it's not like other firms allow just anyone to make it to year 7/year 8 associate.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:52 pm
by 2013
Ultramar vistas wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
2013 wrote:Kirkland is clearly doing something right. High RPL, PPP, PPL. I think some of this has to do with the non-equity “partner” title it gives to hundreds of senior associates that other firms don’t seem to follow (or can’t follow) for some reason.
Other firms do that. They just don't pretend that those lawyers are actually partners; they call them "of counsel" or a similar title.
I don't actually think Kirkland's peer firms elevate associates to counsel at year 6. Counsel's usually more of an "optional" post-year-8 title. Some go directly to equity partner without ever becoming counsel. Others get promoted to counsel first before being promoted again to partner. Still others get promoted to counsel and never get promoted to partner.

At Kirkland, in contrast, every associate who makes it to year 6 gets the "partner" tag. Every. Single. One. With no exceptions. It's both earlier than any other firm promotes associates to counsel, and, as noted above, at other firms associates don't automatically get the "counsel" tag based on seniority.

(Other note: "Of counsel" usually refers to retired partners who're still hanging around on some kind of part-time basis, and maintain an office at the firm. I imagine there's some firm politics involved in whether a retired partner gets to transition to "of counsel", or gets offboarded entirely.)
Agree, it’s not at all like of-counsel as that term was traditionally used. Although the poster is correct that some firms (Weil, I think, recently?) are starting to use counsel as an express stepping stone to Partner.

I’ll also again push back on the notion that K&E is unique here. The only uniqueness is that they were early to the practice of making NSPs, and aren’t ashamed to advertise it. An enormous number, possibly a majority, of the AmLaw 100 now have a non equity track. For some reason many of them don’t want to admit it, but they do.

Also, K&E associates get the NSP title at the beginning of year 7, and it’s by no means automatic. I’ve seen more than a few associates get held back a year, or be told during their year 5 review that NSP is likely not on the cards for them. The title is not handed out to people they think haven’t earned it. It’s obviously a lower bar than equity though.
I don’t think the NSP is different, but promoting associates to that role two years before everyone else does is unique.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:29 pm
by Ultramar vistas
QContinuum wrote:
Ultramar vistas wrote:Also, K&E associates get the NSP title at the beginning of year 7, and it’s by no means automatic. I’ve seen more than a few associates get held back a year, or be told during their year 5 review that NSP is likely not on the cards for them. The title is not handed out to people they think haven’t earned it. It’s obviously a lower bar than equity though.
Yes, sorry I misspoke about the year 6 thing - should've said after year 6. Still, that's earlier than other firms promote to counsel, as far as I know.

As for associates being told "NSP is likely not on the cards," though, how is that really different from other firms pushing out midlevels/seniors who're unlikely to make (equity) partner? Once you get to the end of year 5 that's prime pushing-out time. I don't think there's a unique post-year-6 cull at Kirkland - it's not like other firms allow just anyone to make it to year 7/year 8 associate.
No I totally agree, I just think when you say that every single associate gets promoted to NSP, it makes it sound as though you can just chill and get partner.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:37 pm
by objctnyrhnr
So does anybody know the other firms’ rationales for not having a non equity partner designation for senior-ish associates through which they can also get origination credit?

Makes tons of sense to me, but is not something my firm does. Origination credit for associates who bring in business is some sort of black box case by case thing that goes into bonus.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:05 pm
by trebekismyhero
objctnyrhnr wrote:So does anybody know the other firms’ rationales for not having a non equity partner designation for senior-ish associates through which they can also get origination credit?

Makes tons of sense to me, but is not something my firm does. Origination credit for associates who bring in business is some sort of black box case by case thing that goes into bonus.
I am not sure why more firms don't do it, cause the pluses are you can bill higher rates (although I think most clients know what NSPs at Kirkland are now) and more importantly you probably can hold onto talent longer. My old firm is like yours except it was clear that associates don't get any origination and we were one tier partnership. I had good reviews as a mid-level, but was getting a little burned out. If I only had to wait 2 more years for even "fake" partner instead of like 7-8 more years for a chance at real partnership I probably would have stuck around.

I am not sure what the negatives are especially if you already have a non-equity partnership level.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 7:44 pm
by Sangamon
Kirkland would argue, and I think plausibly, that six years at Kirkland equals eight years at not-Kirkland. They might not say this out loud but I think that's part of the thinking. It makes sense. If you are making it to year 6 at Kirkland, you probably billed more than someone your year at another firm. Figure you bill 200 more hours a year, that's 1,200 hours over the course of that period - very close to another year of work. The pace is also very fast so you get more thrown at you sooner than you might elsewhere.

So now Kirkland gets to bill an NSP out at a higher rate that clients clearly pay. Those NSP's are also now partners and more marketable if they leave (which, btw, Kirkland will assist with in many cases because, if in house, those former NSP's will be more likely to hire Kirkland). Now Kirkland can bill more for their associates because the scale has slid up a bit - what one firm might think of as a midlevel associate is a senior associate at Kirkland.

It's part of the reason that firm grew so strong so quickly relative to others. I suspect more firms would do it if they could pull off the above trick but few others are capable of it.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:31 pm
by 2013
Sangamon wrote:Kirkland would argue, and I think plausibly, that six years at Kirkland equals eight years at not-Kirkland. They might not say this out loud but I think that's part of the thinking. It makes sense. If you are making it to year 6 at Kirkland, you probably billed more than someone your year at another firm. Figure you bill 200 more hours a year, that's 1,200 hours over the course of that period - very close to another year of work. The pace is also very fast so you get more thrown at you sooner than you might elsewhere.

So now Kirkland gets to bill an NSP out at a higher rate that clients clearly pay. Those NSP's are also now partners and more marketable if they leave (which, btw, Kirkland will assist with in many cases because, if in house, those former NSP's will be more likely to hire Kirkland). Now Kirkland can bill more for their associates because the scale has slid up a bit - what one firm might think of as a midlevel associate is a senior associate at Kirkland.

It's part of the reason that firm grew so strong so quickly relative to others. I suspect more firms would do it if they could pull off the above trick but few others are capable of it.
Your math is way off if you think 1200 is “very close” to a year’s worth of billable hours.

Also, do you think people at Kirkland’s peer firms (Latham, Weil, etc.) bill under 1800 hours regularly? I know that people who make NSP at Kirkland probably bill a significant number of hours. But peers at peer firms who are really on partnership track are probably billing just as much.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:43 pm
by Sackboy
2013 wrote:
Also, do you think people at Kirkland’s peer firms (Latham, Weil, etc.) bill under 1800 hours regularly? I know that people who make NSP at Kirkland probably bill a significant number of hours. But peers at peer firms who are really on partnership track are probably billing just as much.
Yeah, I think if you look at a firm and they have roughly similar RPL, then you can assume their associates are working just as hard. I'm sure Kirkland NSPs have high billing rates, but I'm not necessarily sure a 7th or 8th year at Weil or Latham would have much, if any lower.

A co-worker did inform me that Chambers came out today. Apparently, Kirkland has climbed into Band 1 M&A with Wachtell and Cravath, so they're doing something right. I highly doubt Kirkland could have accomplished that feat if not for their EWYK and aggressive "guaranteed" compensation.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:36 pm
by Anonymous User
Anon because I work at Kirkland.

I think average at firm is like 2200 a year. People obviously work more and less than that, so average is not necessarily determinative. I think at other firms, average is closer to 1800 or less. Assuming that math is right, 400 extra hours a year is obviously going to be relevant for development.

That said, Kirkland's hours aren't any different than its peer firms, and firms like Watchell are probably billing higher than that (also practice group dependent).

In terms of NSP, I do think it has its benefits. They get introduced to clients as a partner like any other. Yes, it's a glorified senior associate position, but I do think it has benefits for the person notwithstanding most people understand it as such.

Tl/dr version, Kirkland is pretty typical top firm, NSP might be marginal benefit.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:11 am
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:Anon because I work at Kirkland.

I think average at firm is like 2200 a year. People obviously work more and less than that, so average is not necessarily determinative. I think at other firms, average is closer to 1800 or less. Assuming that math is right, 400 extra hours a year is obviously going to be relevant for development.

That said, Kirkland's hours aren't any different than its peer firms, and firms like Watchell are probably billing higher than that (also practice group dependent).

In terms of NSP, I do think it has its benefits. They get introduced to clients as a partner like any other. Yes, it's a glorified senior associate position, but I do think it has benefits for the person notwithstanding most people understand it as such.

Tl/dr version, Kirkland is pretty typical top firm, NSP might be marginal benefit.
Equity partner at Kirkland here. The average associate billed around 1920 hours last year. When I say last year, I am referring to the K&E associate review year which goes from Sept 1 - Aug 31, so the numbers calculated as of today may differ.

There's also a lot of misunderstanding about NSP billing rates here. There's no "fake partner" bump in billing rates for a newly minted NSP. It goes up by the same incremental amount as you would expect going from year 5 to 6. So a 1st year NSP would be billed out the same as a 7th year associate at a peer firm.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:32 am
by Sackboy
Anonymous User wrote:
Equity partner at Kirkland here. The average associate billed around 1920 hours last year. When I say last year, I am referring to the K&E associate review year which goes from Sept 1 - Aug 31, so the numbers calculated as of today may differ.

There's also a lot of misunderstanding about NSP billing rates here. There's no "fake partner" bump in billing rates for a newly minted NSP. It goes up by the same incremental amount as you would expect going from year 5 to 6. So a 1st year NSP would be billed out the same as a 7th year associate at a peer firm.
Thanks for the clarifications.

The hours billed is far lower than I expected, but the math makes a lot of sense; if the average hour billed were $800, 1920 hours would get us to (roughly) Kirkland's RPL. If you don't mind sharing. What's the typical clip for someone gunning for equity? 2200-2400?

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 2:53 am
by Anonymous User
Sackboy wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Equity partner at Kirkland here. The average associate billed around 1920 hours last year. When I say last year, I am referring to the K&E associate review year which goes from Sept 1 - Aug 31, so the numbers calculated as of today may differ.

There's also a lot of misunderstanding about NSP billing rates here. There's no "fake partner" bump in billing rates for a newly minted NSP. It goes up by the same incremental amount as you would expect going from year 5 to 6. So a 1st year NSP would be billed out the same as a 7th year associate at a peer firm.
Thanks for the clarifications.

The hours billed is far lower than I expected, but the math makes a lot of sense; if the average hour billed were $800, 1920 hours would get us to (roughly) Kirkland's RPL. If you don't mind sharing. What's the typical clip for someone gunning for equity? 2200-2400?
There's no hours formula for getting to equity. The best associates/NSPs are always in high demand so naturally they bill more and develop faster as a result of the experience. Obtaining shares is a result of having the right mix of talent and desire, staffing on important clients and strong political backing. It is somewhat of a black box and thus can be frustrating for young lawyers.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 11:20 pm
by Anonymous User
2013 wrote:
Sangamon wrote:Kirkland would argue, and I think plausibly, that six years at Kirkland equals eight years at not-Kirkland. They might not say this out loud but I think that's part of the thinking. It makes sense. If you are making it to year 6 at Kirkland, you probably billed more than someone your year at another firm. Figure you bill 200 more hours a year, that's 1,200 hours over the course of that period - very close to another year of work. The pace is also very fast so you get more thrown at you sooner than you might elsewhere.

So now Kirkland gets to bill an NSP out at a higher rate that clients clearly pay. Those NSP's are also now partners and more marketable if they leave (which, btw, Kirkland will assist with in many cases because, if in house, those former NSP's will be more likely to hire Kirkland). Now Kirkland can bill more for their associates because the scale has slid up a bit - what one firm might think of as a midlevel associate is a senior associate at Kirkland.

It's part of the reason that firm grew so strong so quickly relative to others. I suspect more firms would do it if they could pull off the above trick but few others are capable of it.
Your math is way off if you think 1200 is “very close” to a year’s worth of billable hours.

Also, do you think people at Kirkland’s peer firms (Latham, Weil, etc.) bill under 1800 hours regularly? I know that people who make NSP at Kirkland probably bill a significant number of hours. But peers at peer firms who are really on partnership track are probably billing just as much.
Weil’s corporate group has been ~1800 hours average for the last several years, litigation has been a bit higher, and restructuring has been ~2300+.

Re: 2020 Amlaw 100

Posted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:57 am
by Sackboy
Anonymous User wrote:
Weil’s corporate group has been ~1800 hours average for the last several years, litigation has been a bit higher, and restructuring has been ~2300+.
I'm genuinely pretty shocked about both Weil's and Kirkland's hours averages. I don't work considerably north of Kirkland's, but I do work north of it and my annual billable hours always start with a 2. I thought I was lucky, hearing all these horror stories on here of people billing like 2600. I feel like I'm not slacking enough now, lol.

RIP to restructuring folks. You really have to love it to grind out 2300+ years on end. Is that the official number given at an associate/firm town hall?