When compensation is primarily (or solely) based on a lawyer’s billable hours, there is the natural tendency to hoard work by partners to the detriment of associates’ hours – and clients since partners cost more – and legal marketing.

Thanks to Dennis Kennedy for the post over at Between Lawyers that calls attention to Tom Collins’ post “Why Law Partners Hoard Work?” in mid-sized law firms. If partners are hoarding work that could/should go to associates, then there is less time available for the partner to market the law firm.

I like Tom’s suggestions on what a compensation system should take into account (in addition to marketing):

  1. Partner’s Personal work productivity (presumably not just billable hours, but collections and profitable work),
  2. New work brought in,
  3. Associates’ billings on client work under partner’s control, and
  4. Other contributions to the law firm, including recruiting, administrative duties, mentoring, PR, client satisfaction surveys, etc.

Good stuff there, Tom. Thanks. 

What is your compensation system based on? Does it reward for the overall contribution to the firm, including lawyer marketing?