{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I'm planning to have a serious discussion about compensation with my boss during EOY reviews. No raises since joining 3 years ago & am trying to get a realistic idea of what to ask for. Context: Class of 2016 at boutique business lit firm in HCOL SoCal; 86k salary; 1500 hours; no 401k; no remote. I handle my own caseload & supervise associates. Firm does not give annual raises. Quality of work isn't an issue. I like my firm/boss & would prefer not to leave if possible. Appreciate any insight!\n", "post_id": "61a56b68b4331c002593d29f", "reply_count": 32, "vote_count": 4, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law" }

I'm planning to have a serious discussion about compensation with my boss during EOY reviews. No raises since joining 3 years ago & am trying to get a realistic idea of what to ask for. Context: Class of 2016 at boutique business lit firm in HCOL SoCal; 86k salary; 1500 hours; no 401k; no remote. I handle my own caseload & supervise associates. Firm does not give annual raises. Quality of work isn't an issue. I like my firm/boss & would prefer not to leave if possible. Appreciate any insight!

likesmart
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I’ve been on the other side of this conversation for 17 years. Consideration for your compensation should be tied to the value you bring to your firm, which includes the owners as well as the non-owners, and your clients. The comment about your total compensation being 1/3 of your revenue is accurate in some places and warrants quick explanation. “Deserved” is not necessarily an accurate word nor will it set you up for the right frame of mind when you talk to your boss. Think about it in terms of what agreement you have with the firm/your boss. If it is no longer appropriate, ask for a new agreement. Consider that your compensation includes employer contribution to payroll taxes, etc. In SoCal that is going to be in excess of an additional 13% of your gross pay. Also, your revenue is not what you bill but what you collect. Probably at a small firm you know this. If your boss is great, ask to talk about what you make, articulate your relationship and feelings you mentioned in your post about the boss/firm/work, make a well reasoned mathematical request related to increasing your compensation and increasing the value you add to the firm and your clients, and request that be your new agreement.

likehelpful

The general advice about being well reasoned, thoughtful, and mature in this negotiation makes total sense. However, the general comments that even mildly indicate that L1 thinks your current salary is/was reasonable is insane. The 13% for payroll taxes, while true, is also insane. Firms are paying double or triple your salary AND not flagging their payroll tax expenses as something you should be grateful for. L1 has been an owner for too long. You are getting swindled OP. You can negotiate for scraps or you can leave and make double. You are worth double. Owners love for you to twist and turn to explain and justify your worth for a meager increase. Even 20% which would be insanely good in normal times would not put you at market value because you are so low. Take charge. This is an associate’s market. Own it! Have some courage and search for other opportunities. You seem smart and hard working. No doubt you would be successful!

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We are in California and our 4th/5th years are making a lot more than that. For context, we are 1850 hours, 401k contributions based on firm profits, other benefits, discretionary bonuses that are roughly $85 an hour for each hour over 1850 hours billed, and I think we are $130 to $140 at your level. Hope this helps. I should mention we are strongly considering a dingo isn’t compensation revision in the next year or two because other firms are outpacing us.

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What does dingo isn’t compensation mean?

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Your salary is insanely low. I’m class of 2019. Business lit boutique. HCOL SoCal. $120k, bonus, 401k matching and hybrid office/remote. This isn’t insurance defense, you should not be getting paid so little.

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It's painfully low given the HCOL. I know you know. Thanks for your numbers; this is helpful.

likehelpful

Class of 2021 High cost of living, 150k corporate non big law in house.

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A dream

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Yikes. There are a lot of red flags in there that make me worried for you long term. How many attorneys?

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They are very kind because you are a cash cow at your current comp. This is not to say that they would otherwise be a rude person, but the incentive to simply be kind and keep you content is very much there.

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You are being used. I graduated in 2016 and started at $125k at a small firm in Chicago doing the same work. When the firm decided not to give me an annual raise in 2018, I left.

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Thank you everyone for your numbers, input, and perspectives. My takeaway is that I really need to strap on a pair and explore my options elsewhere. Good news is, I'm not in a rush to escape a toxic work environment so I can take my time. I truly do appreciate all your help & tough love!

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How do I get one of these 1500 hour jobs though?

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What is your billable rate? What type of cases do you work on? Do you know what others make?

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At 1500, you’re breaking even or maybe kicking back a little profit (unless your only paid 86k in which case your kicking off good profit). If you’re at a firm that needs that work to keep the clients happy and partners sane, then that firm will keep you around even at 1500 if you’re doing good work. Firms want you at 1800 because it is attainable and profitable. You want to work less, then you need to be strategic about where you are looking. That usually means smaller firms with partners with too much work and not a deep bench at your level.

I did some napkin math and it isn’t unfair based on the billable rate, hour requirement, and assuming small firm, but it is not much for SoCal. You are also definitely due for a raise after 3 years. You could offer to work more hours if there is enough work.

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Humor us all with that napkin math.

likesmart

Your pay should be about double…making reasonable assumptions that you don’t have a ton of overhead (office rental space, IT, assistant, etc…). Alternatively, your salary should be between 1/3 and 1/2 of whatever collections you are bringing in to the firm.

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