{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I’m starting to wonder whether I’m being underpaid or treated fairly, considering the current climate. I’m a 2nd year associate who finished his 1st year last month earning 65k at a very small IP boutique firm (4 lawyers total) in DC working around 50-70 hours. The firm has a billable hour bonus structure but it’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to break into it due to write offs, and having to cover for a senior paralegal whose on leave. Should I think of leaving or sticking around?", "post_id": "5f909b548d99130026b49eb6", "reply_count": 6, "vote_count": 1, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law", "feed_type": "crowd" }

I’m starting to wonder whether I’m being underpaid or treated fairly, considering the current climate. I’m a 2nd year associate who finished his 1st year last month earning 65k at a very small IP boutique firm (4 lawyers total) in DC working around 50-70 hours. The firm has a billable hour bonus structure but it’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to break into it due to write offs, and having to cover for a senior paralegal whose on leave. Should I think of leaving or sticking around?

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Speaking from similar experience, depending on your skills and background, you’re probably better off staying for at least another year. I’ve been through a similar situation and you probably aren’t marketable to firms quite yet (again, depending on your qualifications and experiences). Keep grinding and building that resume and you’ll have better opportunities in a year or even 6 months

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For firms of this size, at your stage of your career, I don't think your options are limited to staying at a low salary or leaving. Small firms take risks on entry level attorneys at low salaries. You haven't mentioned whether you like your firm, whether you have good mentors, etc. So I have to assume your only issue is salary. If you have demonstrated that you can be profitable (especially if you can be profitable with limited oversight), then try to ballpark what you are worth and request a raise. i.e., if you have billed ~$450K over your first year, then walk in to their office and thank them for taking a chance on a young attorney, and frame it as now that you have demonstrated your ability and potential, you would like to discuss getting your salary in line with that value. My experience was that I joined a small IP firm at $80K my first year, then at the end of the first year, I negotiated a raise to $120K for year two.

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This information on your billing gives important context. A typical formulation is that for your total billing 1/3 goes to the associate, 1/3 goes to the partner, and 1/3 goes to overhead. Based on that, you aren't underpaid, but if your firm is short on work, then your potential may be capped. On the other hand, if you are they type that can be entrepreneurial, you may be in a good place to try to bring in your own clients (and work out a bonus on that basis).

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Look on glass door, but I'm expecting that you're being slightly under-compensated.

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What is your technical background?

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