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Jun 16, 2021
Implementing a Non-Equity or Income Partner Tier in a Small Law Firm
I am the sole owner of a five lawyer firm in Indianapolis, Indiana. The other lawyers are associates. Our firm focuses entirely on estate planning and probate and trust administration as well as elder law. I am 60 and do not plan on retiring for another ten years. Two of my associates have been with me for 8-10 years and are vital to my practice as well as my eventual succession and exit strategy. I do not want to lose them so I am considering making them non-equity partners and giving them the title of partner. I am not ready to have any equity partners at this time. I have a production bonus system in place for the associates so I don’t plan on changing their compensation or the system under which they are compensated. How can I make their promotion to partner meaningful?
Here are some things you might consider:
- Really build up their promotion to partner.
- Press releases announcing their promotion to partner to the local media.
- Mail out announcements announcing their promotion to partner to clients, past clients, other lawyers and law firms, judges, referral sources, and family and friends of the new partners.
- List them as partners on the firm’s website, letterhead, and other promotional materials. (Some firms have even listed them in the firm name – I don’t agree with this)
- Include them in firm management and at least begin sharing some, even if limited, financial information with them.
- Consider providing them with additional perks.
- If your present bonus system is based on working attorney collections, provide a delegation component for fee collections/receipts from other attorneys or paralegals on matters that the partner is responsible for and is managing.
- Additional life insurance.
- Country or other club membership.
- Firm paid automobile.
- Gas card.
- Firm credit card.
The title of partner in itself is more important than you might think but it requires that a big a buildup. If you only do one thing – do the buildup announcement and secondly include them more in firm management.
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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
Posted at 09:43 AM in