So I just accidentally found out that the senior associate in our office makes almost 3x the amount I do per month. For background, we have 4 attorneys, the senior associate has about 9 years more experience than I do (I have 6). This person should be paid more than me, I have no problem with that. Is it normal for there to be that big of a difference in pay? I just want to know if I’m getting screwed.

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This person has 2.5x (6*2.5) more years of experience than you do. So, proportionally I wouldn't say it's out of whack.

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Time to ask for a raise?

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Why do you think you are getting screwed? Do you think you are underpaid? Do you think they are overpaid? There are all sorts of reasons that someone can be paid a lot more than someone else - especially if its originations based. For example, because clients often pay in lump sums, I have months when I get paid twice as much.

Perhaps you should just use this as motivation. The good news is that there is plenty of room to grow in your current office.

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What’s your contract say? What’s their contract say? How much are your receivables annually vs your salary? Does the SA generate business for the firm despite being an associate and not a partner? If so then they likely get a cut based on originated business. Lots of ways to get to 3x once you’re 15 years in.

Did you accidentally see their paystub? Or accidentally see a firm financial document?

If they get a cut of everything they originate, and are making 3x as you, it sounds like they do generate quite a lot of business for the firm. They’re getting a cut of that, possibly spread out over a quarter, which explains the check.

That said, you could work with the SA to learn how you can generate/originate business on your own in order to be more connected to your own financial benefit from working for this firm. Being fed work is nice and secure but on the small firm scale, you won’t get paid much to work work work with no business generation.

Work harder. Most associates get a % of what they originated— not a slice of the entire firm’s revenue, which is what partners get (with the risk of debt,too). It’s likely that your colleague is bringing in business and cranking out the hours, too.

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