DPW no longer lockstep

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DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:43 pm

DPW moving off pure lockstep to modified lockstep for the partners. Guess there was finally enough pressure from the rainmakers.

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:06 pm

Does that mean DPW associates now have more chances to make partner?

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Sackboy

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Sackboy » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:06 pm
Does that mean DPW associates now have more chances to make partner?
Theoretically, yes, if you're a specialist. If you're in Corp/Lit, your future is tied to if you're going to make it rain in the future. That's true under both lockstep and modified lockstep. Someone who is going to make it rain only a little/medium amount isn't getting in under both systems. DPW has too high of a PPP for that to happen. If you're a specialist and not generating your own business, there is a big incentive to keep you out of the lockstep model, because you're going to wind up to be very expensive, despite not generating business. In a modified lockstep model where the spread is greater between the highest and lowest earning partners, there is less of an incentive to lock out specialists from equity. In reality, this move just reallocates partner profits from specialists to the biggest rain makers at the firm. The math probably works out that the not super rain making Corp/Lit partners come out the same. The bar for entry into the partnership is pretty much the same if you're in a traditional business generating practice group like general Corp/Lit. The bar you have to jump over to make equity at DPW as a specialist was lowered from 8ft to 7ft 11in, and the bar is still only even put out to jump over if there is a succession planning need.

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:06 pm
Does that mean DPW associates now have more chances to make partner?
I echo what the next poster says. The real way associates have more chances to make “partner” is if they bring in an income tier (which STB apparently did a couple of years ago and Skadden has had for a while, among peer-ish firms). I think equity in those situations remains as much - or maybe more - of a crapshoot. It was theoretically possible to make equity partner in eight years at DPW until recently. If they start bringing in income partners, it becomes a way to extend careers without doling out real money.

Until then, the real effect is that the big hitters in M&A, lit, cap markets and restructuring can be paid extra to stick around when Kirkland or Paul Weiss come knocking with guarantees, first year partners are more deviations away from median partnership draws, and specialists can get screwed.

Curious to know what this means for pensions. Old-line lockstep firms kept people around when big immediate paychecks showed up by offering tidy figures until they died. I’m sure more senior partners keep those entitlements, but do younger folks do the same in this modified lockstep system?

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:01 pm

I’m at a peer firm of DPW that has a modified lockstep partner system. I’m coming up for equity partner and current partners have shared their insights with me about how the system works. Basically, for my firm, and I’m pretty sure for DPW as well, the vast majority of revenue comes from existing clients that have been with the firm for decades, in some cases. When it comes to promotion, they mainly seem to look for the people who have the best legal skills (of course), are good at managing up and down, and most importantly, can keep the existing clients happy. Minus a unicorn situation like someone’s dad being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (I’m just making up a scenario, have never heard of this happening), no junior partner is going to bring in a major enough client to materially impact the firm’s revenue. That’s what poaching rainmakers from other firms is for. Anyone who says differently has no idea what they’re talking about. The overall financial performance of your practice group and the clout of the partners you work with are also huge factors for promotion.

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Scallion

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Scallion » Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:01 pm
I’m at a peer firm of DPW that has a modified lockstep partner system. I’m coming up for equity partner and current partners have shared their insights with me about how the system works. Basically, for my firm, and I’m pretty sure for DPW as well, the vast majority of revenue comes from existing clients that have been with the firm for decades, in some cases. When it comes to promotion, they mainly seem to look for the people who have the best legal skills (of course), are good at managing up and down, and most importantly, can keep the existing clients happy. Minus a unicorn situation like someone’s dad being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (I’m just making up a scenario, have never heard of this happening), no junior partner is going to bring in a major enough client to materially impact the firm’s revenue. That’s what poaching rainmakers from other firms is for. Anyone who says differently has no idea what they’re talking about. The overall financial performance of your practice group and the clout of the partners you work with are also huge factors for promotion.
This sounds highly accurate.

Not to be cynical, but unless a biglaw associate is groomed from birth with solid connections and wealth, the idea of an associate curating enough major clients/a big enough book of business to warrant becoming a partner seems unrealistic. Most of the large institutions and wealthy clients already established relationships with their go-to lawyers before most of us even started law school. The idea that we're supposed to just upend those relationships and have clients to bring to the firm seems absurd.

When I read OP's thread title, I thought OP might be suggesting the end of lockstep for associates. I hope that does not become a thing.

RaceJudicata

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by RaceJudicata » Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:12 pm

Scallion wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:32 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 10:01 pm
I’m at a peer firm of DPW that has a modified lockstep partner system. I’m coming up for equity partner and current partners have shared their insights with me about how the system works. Basically, for my firm, and I’m pretty sure for DPW as well, the vast majority of revenue comes from existing clients that have been with the firm for decades, in some cases. When it comes to promotion, they mainly seem to look for the people who have the best legal skills (of course), are good at managing up and down, and most importantly, can keep the existing clients happy. Minus a unicorn situation like someone’s dad being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (I’m just making up a scenario, have never heard of this happening), no junior partner is going to bring in a major enough client to materially impact the firm’s revenue. That’s what poaching rainmakers from other firms is for. Anyone who says differently has no idea what they’re talking about. The overall financial performance of your practice group and the clout of the partners you work with are also huge factors for promotion.
This sounds highly accurate.

Not to be cynical, but unless a biglaw associate is groomed from birth with solid connections and wealth, the idea of an associate curating enough major clients/a big enough book of business to warrant becoming a partner seems unrealistic. Most of the large institutions and wealthy clients already established relationships with their go-to lawyers before most of us even started law school. The idea that we're supposed to just upend those relationships and have clients to bring to the firm seems absurd.

When I read OP's thread title, I thought OP might be suggesting the end of lockstep for associates. I hope that does not become a thing.
The point about making existing clients happy is the key. Agree that very few junior partners are able to bring in many new, high dollar clients. But there is a big difference between the senior associate up for partner who just has technical skills and thea associate who has the technical skills and is the person existing clients call on / request to be on their matters. In the partners' eyes, the latter associate has the ability to secure new clients in the future, and to the other poster's point, keep current clients happy.

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 am

There are a couple of ways for senior associates to bring in clients / get client credit IMO. I am on the business side for a large investment fund that runs up 100m+ in legal bills a year where we sit down with our in house counsel every 1-2 years to review counsel.

There are certain firms, where we have expanded our relationship with them from 1-2m a few years ago to 10-15m because a senior associate that basically "grew-up" working on our deals is that good, understands our work product, deadlines, and what we care about We actually stayed with the firm after the "relationship" partner who originally brought us in left. In this case, this has communicated to the head of the firm / group, and we fully expect the senior associate to make partner in close to the minimum amount of time. I note that while the senior associate is really good, based on some of the timesheets I have seen, their junior associates do not seem to have the best work life balance. Same issue with working with rainmakers - you become a rainmaker because your client service is impeccable which usually grinds their juniors / senior associates to get that service.

On on an organic sourcing note, I've been pinged by a couple of friends in the industry about good lender counsel / restructuring counsel. Every single time, I ping them over to a couple of senior associates at different firms that I respect and can trust to run through the process of pitching / onboarding and not making me look bad. Only one recommendation was hired but enough of those "looks" / reach outs where the senior associate brings in a potential client to their lead partner for a pitch I would hope can really grease the wheels to get them promoted.

Note this is for heavily transactional business lines (Credit / M&A), probably doesn't apply as much to public company work.

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 am
There are a couple of ways for senior associates to bring in clients / get client credit IMO. I am on the business side for a large investment fund that runs up 100m+ in legal bills a year where we sit down with our in house counsel every 1-2 years to review counsel.

There are certain firms, where we have expanded our relationship with them from 1-2m a few years ago to 10-15m because a senior associate that basically "grew-up" working on our deals is that good, understands our work product, deadlines, and what we care about We actually stayed with the firm after the "relationship" partner who originally brought us in left. In this case, this has communicated to the head of the firm / group, and we fully expect the senior associate to make partner in close to the minimum amount of time. I note that while the senior associate is really good, based on some of the timesheets I have seen, their junior associates do not seem to have the best work life balance. Same issue with working with rainmakers - you become a rainmaker because your client service is impeccable which usually grinds their juniors / senior associates to get that service.

On on an organic sourcing note, I've been pinged by a couple of friends in the industry about good lender counsel / restructuring counsel. Every single time, I ping them over to a couple of senior associates at different firms that I respect and can trust to run through the process of pitching / onboarding and not making me look bad. Only one recommendation was hired but enough of those "looks" / reach outs where the senior associate brings in a potential client to their lead partner for a pitch I would hope can really grease the wheels to get them promoted.

Note this is for heavily transactional business lines (Credit / M&A), probably doesn't apply as much to public company work.
May I ask you about your career path? I am thinking of biglaw > PE fund route so it would be immensely helpful if you went through the similar path. Did you move to the fund first as an in-house counsel then jump to the business side?

OP, sorry for hijacking your thread.

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Anonymous User
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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:45 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 am
There are a couple of ways for senior associates to bring in clients / get client credit IMO. I am on the business side for a large investment fund that runs up 100m+ in legal bills a year where we sit down with our in house counsel every 1-2 years to review counsel.

There are certain firms, where we have expanded our relationship with them from 1-2m a few years ago to 10-15m because a senior associate that basically "grew-up" working on our deals is that good, understands our work product, deadlines, and what we care about We actually stayed with the firm after the "relationship" partner who originally brought us in left. In this case, this has communicated to the head of the firm / group, and we fully expect the senior associate to make partner in close to the minimum amount of time. I note that while the senior associate is really good, based on some of the timesheets I have seen, their junior associates do not seem to have the best work life balance. Same issue with working with rainmakers - you become a rainmaker because your client service is impeccable which usually grinds their juniors / senior associates to get that service.

On on an organic sourcing note, I've been pinged by a couple of friends in the industry about good lender counsel / restructuring counsel. Every single time, I ping them over to a couple of senior associates at different firms that I respect and can trust to run through the process of pitching / onboarding and not making me look bad. Only one recommendation was hired but enough of those "looks" / reach outs where the senior associate brings in a potential client to their lead partner for a pitch I would hope can really grease the wheels to get them promoted.

Note this is for heavily transactional business lines (Credit / M&A), probably doesn't apply as much to public company work.
May I ask you about your career path? I am thinking of biglaw > PE fund route so it would be immensely helpful if you went through the similar path. Did you move to the fund first as an in-house counsel then jump to the business side?

OP, sorry for hijacking your thread.
Did biglaw -> in house -> investment seat.

Extremely hard and realistically only really happens at very senior levels, I got extremely lucky and probably could have been fired when applying. My firm of c. 400+ investment professionals has 4 ex lawyers in investment seats that I can think of and the only ones who did it before y8 after law school was myself. A couple of transitions post MBA as well but I don't count those.

I'd do biglaw -> IBD / MC -> PE which is still pretty hard.

soft blue

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Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by soft blue » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 am
There are a couple of ways for senior associates to bring in clients / get client credit IMO. I am on the business side for a large investment fund that runs up 100m+ in legal bills a year where we sit down with our in house counsel every 1-2 years to review counsel.

There are certain firms, where we have expanded our relationship with them from 1-2m a few years ago to 10-15m because a senior associate that basically "grew-up" working on our deals is that good, understands our work product, deadlines, and what we care about We actually stayed with the firm after the "relationship" partner who originally brought us in left. In this case, this has communicated to the head of the firm / group, and we fully expect the senior associate to make partner in close to the minimum amount of time. I note that while the senior associate is really good, based on some of the timesheets I have seen, their junior associates do not seem to have the best work life balance. Same issue with working with rainmakers - you become a rainmaker because your client service is impeccable which usually grinds their juniors / senior associates to get that service.

On on an organic sourcing note, I've been pinged by a couple of friends in the industry about good lender counsel / restructuring counsel. Every single time, I ping them over to a couple of senior associates at different firms that I respect and can trust to run through the process of pitching / onboarding and not making me look bad. Only one recommendation was hired but enough of those "looks" / reach outs where the senior associate brings in a potential client to their lead partner for a pitch I would hope can really grease the wheels to get them promoted.

Note this is for heavily transactional business lines (Credit / M&A), probably doesn't apply as much to public company work.
PM me? Lawyer in this world (represent lenders in distress / restructuring situations) and would love to chat with someone who actually pays for my services.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350597
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: DPW no longer lockstep

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Sep 18, 2020 1:42 pm

soft blue wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:41 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:54 am
There are a couple of ways for senior associates to bring in clients / get client credit IMO. I am on the business side for a large investment fund that runs up 100m+ in legal bills a year where we sit down with our in house counsel every 1-2 years to review counsel.

There are certain firms, where we have expanded our relationship with them from 1-2m a few years ago to 10-15m because a senior associate that basically "grew-up" working on our deals is that good, understands our work product, deadlines, and what we care about We actually stayed with the firm after the "relationship" partner who originally brought us in left. In this case, this has communicated to the head of the firm / group, and we fully expect the senior associate to make partner in close to the minimum amount of time. I note that while the senior associate is really good, based on some of the timesheets I have seen, their junior associates do not seem to have the best work life balance. Same issue with working with rainmakers - you become a rainmaker because your client service is impeccable which usually grinds their juniors / senior associates to get that service.

On on an organic sourcing note, I've been pinged by a couple of friends in the industry about good lender counsel / restructuring counsel. Every single time, I ping them over to a couple of senior associates at different firms that I respect and can trust to run through the process of pitching / onboarding and not making me look bad. Only one recommendation was hired but enough of those "looks" / reach outs where the senior associate brings in a potential client to their lead partner for a pitch I would hope can really grease the wheels to get them promoted.

Note this is for heavily transactional business lines (Credit / M&A), probably doesn't apply as much to public company work.
PM me? Lawyer in this world (represent lenders in distress / restructuring situations) and would love to chat with someone who actually pays for my services.
My profile is pretty outing so would prefer to stay anon but feel free to comment questions here.

I'll note we don't tend to scrutinize your bills too heavily unless the raw numbers are really high and destroy value and prefer flat fee arrangements.

Since myself and the senior guy I work with are both lawyers who worked for large firms, we can be extremely pointed on bills so they tend to come over reasonable. Can't say the same about the bills received by our normal buyouts team.

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