How are personal injury associates compensated? Forum

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Mencken1

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How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by Mencken1 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:00 pm

Hello all,

I understand that personal injury firms work on a contingency basis, typically at about 1/3 of the settlement.

But my question is, how much of that, if any, would an associate who worked on the case see?

Let's say there is a small firm of 5 attorneys, two of whom are partners, and three of whom are associates. On a particular case, there is 1 partner and 1 associate working on it exclusively. They win the case and with it a large settlement. Does the associate see any of that settlement money (in the form of a eg a bonus) or does the associate carry on making only his salary (probably $60k at a small firm) while the PPP just increased tremendously?

Thanks,
Mencken

Mencken1

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by Mencken1 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:00 pm

Fuck me am i right

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cavalier1138

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by cavalier1138 » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:15 pm

I mean, you're asking a question that likely has a very specific answer at every PI firm with associates, and most of the lawyers who post in these forums aren't PI lawyers.

Additionally, you're asking lawyers to do math.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Wed Jun 24, 2020 5:58 pm

Yeah, this depends entirely on firm. There's no Cravath Scale-style orthodoxy in Plaintiffland.

Generally speaking, no, associates and other non-equityholders don't get much of a big windfall when a blockbuster case pays out. That's how capitalism works. If the partners want to keep their associates happy then they'll pay out extra bonuses at year-end or buy everyone new office furniture or something but they're strongly incentivized to 1) compensate themselves and 2) shore up the firm's financial state so it can last through leaner times.

JS623

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by JS623 » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:38 pm

Adding a data point after working at two very similar PI shops to what was described (under 10 attorneys) and about to start at a third this second half of summer. It varies like the others have said.

Firm one, it was basically salary only with MAYBE a bonus if there was a particularly huge case. This struck me as pretty egregious given there was only one associate, so the cost of rewarding their efforts would not have been that significant... I also understand that associate was not making much in the way of salary either.

Firm two, it seemed to be a much more generous and equitable arrangement. Partners each get X percent of recovered fees from their cases, associates received a smaller Y percent of fees from their cases, and Z percent, whatever is leftover, goes to "the firm." The firm then also pays out bonuses on an individual basis, although my understanding was that it was often based largely upon the fees your cases earned as well as extra if the firm had a good year overall.

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decimalsanddollars

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:54 pm

I've worked at a smallish firm that did some P's work and have friends at these types of firms. Most are more like JS263's Firm One. As an associate at firms like these, your fate is controlled by your partners, not any pervasive market force like a cravath scale (as an above poster mentioned).

wolfintally

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by wolfintally » Wed Jan 04, 2023 3:49 pm

Most PI firms (at least in Southeast) will pay you some kind of base 75-150k then the will pay you a % of fees either after a minimum amount of fees are reached or immediately.

Example
100k base + 18% with a 600k minimum/threshold. So total for that year if you did one mil in fees would be 100k base plus 72k in fees

Example
100k base and flat 10% of fees with no threshold. For 1 million fee year would equal 100k in base and 100k in commission.

At the firms I worked at most pi attorneys bring in 600k to 6 million in fees per year with the vast majority around 1 mil.

bokampers

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by bokampers » Wed Jan 04, 2023 5:12 pm

wolfintally wrote:
Wed Jan 04, 2023 3:49 pm
Most PI firms (at least in Southeast) will pay you some kind of base 75-150k then the will pay you a % of fees either after a minimum amount of fees are reached or immediately.

Example
100k base + 18% with a 600k minimum/threshold. So total for that year if you did one mil in fees would be 100k base plus 72k in fees

Example
100k base and flat 10% of fees with no threshold. For 1 million fee year would equal 100k in base and 100k in commission.

At the firms I worked at most pi attorneys bring in 600k to 6 million in fees per year with the vast majority around 1 mil.
Not OP, but thanks for the helpful information. Is it common in your experience for a PI firm to only pay commission on cases that you bring in yourself? Or do PI firms more traditionally pay commission even on cases that were firm-originated?

wolfintally

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Re: How are personal injury associates compensated?

Post by wolfintally » Wed Jan 04, 2023 10:34 pm

I’ve only worked at mass marketers so I don’t know with like super small shops but I don’t know a mass marketer firm in the southeast that only pays commission on personal referral cases. I work at a large mass marketer firm and they really don’t encourage people to market they would rather you just use their cases. But generally if you bring in a case you normally get a higher commission off those.

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