{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I am a very newly minted partner with a small book of business (950k or so) that is very loyal to me alone. I could go anywhere and my current clients would follow me. I like my big firm but regional firms are offering me equity and all kinds of perks to come over and bring my book. My book is small for my firm so I get very few resources to support it. The regional firms are offering more money and all kinds of support. They will all likely have less conflicts than I currently deal with. WWYD?", "post_id": "628135eba88c7000323c9574", "reply_count": 11, "vote_count": 8, "bowl_id": "5df70ed2f7169f002b172d3f", "bowl_name": "Big Law", "feed_type": "bowl" }
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I am a very newly minted partner with a small book of business (950k or so) that is very loyal to me alone. I could go anywhere and my current clients would follow me. I like my big firm but regional firms are offering me equity and all kinds of perks to come over and bring my book. My book is small for my firm so I get very few resources to support it. The regional firms are offering more money and all kinds of support. They will all likely have less conflicts than I currently deal with. WWYD?

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Better to be first in Spain than second in Rome

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I would not call $950k small, especially if it’s business you organically grew, as opposed to inherited.

I’d go to the regional firm eight days out of seven, even if your take-home pay as an equity partner is the same (or perhaps even somewhat less) than the biglaw non-equity realm in the beginning, you will have far more control over your destiny. Your book will only continue to grow from there, especially since you can charge a more competitive rate.

It would be different if your current firm were supportive of you getting a seat at the table and you felt like you had upward momentum. But taking you for granted and treating you like a pissant? Fuck that noise.

Another alternative: you trade for a lower-ranked Vault or AmLaw firm where, perhaps, you can’t get equity just yet, but the culture is more entrepreneurial and supportive of business generation efforts.

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Big firms are focused on institutional relationships, that’s who makes them money. At least at my firm we are not v encouraged to bring in smaller clients/deals for exactly the reasons you state - creates conflicts with the big guys, pulls resources from the big guys. We are more encouraged to become relationship partners on the big institutional clients and if we bring in some smaller fish on our own that’s a nice bonus but they don’t care much. I wouldn’t be surprised/disappointed by that.

Are you entirely servicing your small book, or do you also do work for the big guys? Are you interested in working on the big guys on top of your small book and becoming a relationship partner on the big guys? Does your small book have the potential to get bigger (like are your clients sending you all their deals or only some? Are they only doing 2 big deals a year now but in the future they’ll grow and do 20 big deals a year?)

I don’t think there’s that much of a secret to “how” to make equity at your current firm - grow the book, either with your current smaller clients, building upon firm’s existing institutional clients or additional smaller clients. Whether that is attainable or what you want is a separate question. If you don’t want to deal with the big institutional guys and would rather be focused on your own book and receive more support for it now, sounds like smaller firm is the way. If you’re willing to wait it out and keep grinding for big institutional clients in the meantime, sounds like equity will come your way at the current firm with probably more money in the long run, but nothing wrong with going to a smaller firm for the reasons you stated.

Keep in mind quality/dedication of associates/resources like after hours staff and word processing etc may not be the same also. The associates who kill themselves for the job lateral away to Cravath scale, which your regional firms probably don’t pay. Associates also may be less willing to work with you when you have no reputation at the new firm, but maybe doesn’t matter if it’s not free market.

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I don’t think $950k book is small at all for a young partner. I have a number of friends at top firms as junior partners - equity and non equity - with zero transferable book. I’m not in as good a place to offer advice here but I would stick with current firm because it seems like equity should be possible quickly for you. Do you have any recently made equity partners at your current firm that can offer guidance? Market?

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I feel this. Seems like many senior partners don’t care at all about young partners actually building things. I would stick it out though and see if you can make equity. You are on a good path.

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There is no set path to equity at current firm. Like being an associate, young partners are motivated with "you could be making as much as me someday" talks from the equity partners.

I guess I should clarify that I have the biggest book of anyone around my class year. The issue is really that I worked my butt off to get clients as an associate thinking it would be boon to me as a partner. But my compensation doesn't really match what I control. The firm itself is hyper focused on serving some very large clients controlled by the firm's dozen or so big rainmakers. They say they really want associates and young partners to focus on business development but the compensation system doesn't reward for it and the resources are all very focused on keeping the biggest rainmakers happy. I could give a dozen examples of how I am denied things I need (e.g. staff coverage, associates, conflict waivers) but it is mostly about feeling like a prop. They tout me as a success but also hold me down.

following, fascinating perspectives

Similar situation over here (in terms of book size, client loyalty and ability to jump, etc) but I jumped from a big firm to a boutique. Biggest benefit IMO is complete autonomy and lack of bureaucracy. Much lower billables is another huge plus. Flexibility to change rates on the fly and discretion to offer different fee arrangements is also nice. Depending on the regional firm and their willingness to help you grow your practice, you might enjoy similar benefits. Mind if I ask what other types of perks are being offered?

I would look into smaller/regional firms if I were you. The challenge is to find a smaller/regional firm that wants you (and will give you equity and support) and one that is also well-managed. In my own (admittedly anecdotal) experience, there are lots of excellent smaller/regional firms with excellent lawyers, and that do value client development (as opposed to servicing massive institutional clients), but few are truly well managed. It is possible, of course, to find a well managed smaller firm; it’s just that there are more big law firms that are well managed.

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