I’ve been in recruiting now for a year. As of one year, I have made no cold calls (so if you want my help, you will have to contact me). I have placed lawyers only in firms I admire. As a result, I have passed several opportunities to make placements.

I was recently asked: What is my “sweet spot” for lawyer placements?

It is not the lawyer already generating millions in business unless I coached that lawyer when he or she was a young partner or associate.

I like working with the highly motivated young lawyers who in the right setting are capable of generating more business and feeling more fulfilled in their careers.

When I was coaching lawyers I worked with dozens of senior associates and junior partners in large law firms who now have some clients but could take control of their future and develop much more business in a more entrepreneurial law firm.


Over the last year, several of the young law firm partners who sought my help told me they did not feel they were being fairly compensated.

Some time ago while working out I was listening to Daniel Pink’s book Drive. One of the parts I listened to was a discussion of fair compensation both internally and externally.

It’s funny, I never thought about whether I was fairly compensated until I learned what my partners were being paid and when other firms offered me substantially more money to join their firm. They say that ignorance is bliss and that was surely true for me.

Even if your law firm strives to keep it secret, you will learn what your colleagues are making. One way or another you will also figure out what lawyers are making in other firms.

With that knowledge, you will then evaluate whether you are being fairly compensated.

In 2003, the year before I left my law firm, two huge international law firms made offers to me that were more than $200,000 than I was making at the time. You might ask why didn’t I join either of those firms. While the money was great, I believed I would be giving up control of my destiny.

In my year of recruiting, I have never placed a lawyer in a firm where I believed the lawyer would be giving up control of his or her destiny. If all you are looking for is the firm that will pay you the most money, don’t call on me. I don’t want to place any lawyer in a firm they will likely leave just a few years later.

Here are some things you might want to know about a firm you are considering:

  • Does the law firm adjust compensation every year?  If your potential firm adjusts compensation every year, you and several of your new partners will find a reason to feel they are not fairly compensated.
  • Does the law firm you are considering have significant intervals between the levels of partner compensation? If your potential firm’s intervals are as low as $5000-$10,000, you and your new partners might easily get upset about a colleague making $5000 more than you. It is harder to be upset when the difference is $50,000
  • Do you understand the criteria your potential firm is to establish compensation?
  • Is your compensation competitive with other firms that would like to have you?
  • Does your potential firm adequately compensate its junior partners? If not, you will have a problem finding lawyers to help you.).

Do you feel you are fairly compensated in your present law firm? Do you feel like you have the maximum opportunity to choose your destiny, take control of your future, and achieve what motivates you in your career?