Small firm associates turned partners, at what point were you able to inquire about the firm’s financials?

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If you are a shareholder, you have a right to see the books upon reasonable notice. It may also be spelled out in your partnership or shareholder agreement. If you are being offered shareholder status, it’s reasonable to ask to see the books before finalizing your decision — though that may make your firm look askance at you (ie, “what, you are not grateful just to have been asked? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth kid.”).

I’m an associate at a ~50 attorney firm and every attorney has access to this information for purposes of accountability and transparency. We receive monthly reports on every attorneys billable hours (monthly, ytd, comparison against same time last year), billable rate, effective billable rate, realization rate, firm collections and revenue, etc. Attorneys are paid a fixed percentage of their fees collected, so baseline attorney earnings can be calculated with this public info. We also receive separate reports on business generation by each attorney. Associates don’t have access to the firm’s balance sheet or P&L statement, so can’t gauge partnership distributions. To your question, it feels weird you wouldn’t already have access to substantial financial info at a smaller firm to gauge whether partnership is worth it.

Hopefully before signing on as equity partner. Why would you agree to take on a business obligation before seeing the financial health of the firm?

Haha this I know. I really meant like how early on can I try to find this information out.

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