Just interviewed with a firm and it seems great. I was told that although associates are given an annual billing requirement, the firm focuses more on your “receipts” rather than hours billed. I understood that to mean that the firm is more focused on whether or not your client pays your invoice. Has anyone worked for a firm like this?

likeupliftinghelpful
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When you say you were told this, who told you? Just one attorney in an interview, or was this described as a firm policy? The reason I ask is because as you get more senior, what you bring in counts more than your hours. I think you’ll find that’s the case at most firms. Some firms offer more senior attorneys extra compensation for higher receipts, as well. Personally, I like that approach much better.

For what it’s worth, $300k seems like a really low bar if you’re talking big law hourly rates.

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If you do want it, do your due dilligence. My team is great about collecting fees and the clients are great about paying. Even so, there are really annoying stresses about the collections model — you have to make sure you make very solid hours between December and August (billable year ends in November) because that's the last that will get collected for the year. You cannot come back with solid months in September-November.

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I have friends that are firms like this and you should run. You don’t want your performance metrics to be at the mercy of a partner cutting your time or a client refusing to pay.

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Echoing this. My large full service regional firm just switched to a bonus structure that is tied solely to collections instead of hours. I’m in a practice area with billing rates that are significantly lower than that of most, and the new structure completely screws me over. On my way out and i’m literally fantasizing about giving my notice daily.

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That wouldn’t work for me. I wouldn’t risk partners writing off my time or reducing the invoice or clients just not paying/disputing the invoice. To me one of the benefits or working at a firm is not having to worry about that stuff as an associate. You get credit for what you bill and that’s your only job.

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That was my thinking as well. Oof 😓

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Don’t do it 😭 here now and partners cut 80+ hours every month which means I’m always behind

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80+??? That’s not just behind, that’s dead and buried. That’s impossible to make any sort of billing target with that much being cut.

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Nelson Mullins is like this.

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Can confirm this is true at Nelson Mullins. I’ve worked for two firms like this (one being Nelson Mullins). At Nelson Mullins I’ve had a pretty good experience with it (i.e., good bonuses every year) because my collections have been strong, however, some associates have gotten screwed by this system. At my other “eat what you kill” firm, I experienced and witnessed partners frequently abusing the system by writing off a ton of associate time/AR while collecting 100% of their (the partner’s) own time/AR on the same matter - then the associate gets shafted on raise/bonus at the end of the year. Overall, even though it’s generally worked out fine for me, I do completely disagree with basing associate comp on the collections metric - too susceptible to abuse by partners and too many variables beyond an associate’s control that can affect their comp IMHO.

likehelpful

Turn around and walk the other way.

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I worked in a firm that did this as a junior associate my first 2+ years. There is nothing more frustrating on earth than seeing your time written off as an associate for no reasoning at all (confirmed multiple times it was not because the work was done inefficiently) other than to cut the bill down for a stingy client and that directly affecting your bonus. It’s an absurd structure that simply gives the partners yet another tool to screw associates out of compensation they would otherwise be entitled to. One of many reasons I left such firm.

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Run. I’m at a firm like this right now and can’t wait to get away. I do commercial transactions and we typically get paid at closing (which may not happen for months). When we close the books in December there’s a distinct possibility that I won’t get credit for work that I do in August, and I can virtually guarantee that nothing from October on will go toward my goal for this year. It feels like you’re being set up for failure.

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Agreed - I’m a transactional associate too and am always fearful of some big transaction closings getting pushed to after our fiscal year end and coming up short. Fortunately, it’s never happened to me, but has happened to some of my colleagues and they missed their goal solely because of it (which, at our firm, means a $0 bonus, no exceptions - and our comp structure is already very bonus heavy, so no bonus is truly a massive loss). Plus, our firm’s fiscal year end November 30 - of course, many clients want to wait to pay until the end of the calendar year, so that can always cause issues too. I don’t know if that’s a tactic the firm uses intentionally to increase the chances of associates missing goal, but you should ask about the firm’s fiscal year end (especially if you’re in a transactional practice) before accepting the position because it could impact your ability to meet your annual collection goal. Also, ask if you’re eligible for any bonus (pro rated or otherwise) if you miss goal.

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Nelson Mullins?

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Ahh it must be Melson Nullins then

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If a smaller firm this should be ok. The partner you work for would be just as motivated as you to bill your hours and you’ll get in the practice of doing actually billable work rather than frittering away on tasks where you don’t care how long it takes as long as you get hours in the system. I believe but don’t know that this would be untenable and unusual in biglaw or even midsized firms

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Before I went in-house I interviewed with Nelson Mullins and turned down the offer because of the collections-dependent bonus structure.

smarthelpful

Nope- get out

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Following.

helpful

I’ve heard Fisher Phillips is essentially like this. Hours that are cut from a bill will still count towards the billable hour requirement, but the bonus is based on what is collected. Haven’t heard from anyone who works there about how the bonus works out in practice under this structure though.

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A11: Can you say whether you are in a larger or smaller market at FP? I’m a 3rd year closing in on negotiations with them in a smaller/midsize market.

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This is pretty much how it works anyway at a lot of firms, regardless of whether they are being honest with you about it or not.

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I wouldn’t do it. Partners cut my time frequently to meet stingy clients’ budgets

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There’s a firm in Dallas that does this. Run, don’t walk, away

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Very common. Eat what you kill. Like the fox on the beach in property for posession, a miss does not put the rabbit in the pot.

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