Our firm is a 8 attorney firm in Fort Worth, Texas. We have two partners – myself and my partner. Our approach to compensation has been based upon our ownership interest percentages which have been adjusted over time based upon working attorney (personal) collections. We have been discussing implementing a formula using working attorney collections and also bringing client origination credit into the equation has well – weighing each equally. Our ownership percentages would be adjusted based upon the fee credit ratio between the two of us. I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
My first thought is whether you are trying to build a firm-first firm or a group of separate practitioners. How will you incorporate other factors such as firm management, business development, mentoring and training associates, etc? If both of you are making roughly equal contributions in these areas your approach might have merit but be careful that you do not head down the path of separate practices – and become a lone ranger firm. My other concern is with client origination – this often gets tricky. With only two partners you don't have anyone to serve in the capacity of attribution police when and if there are disagreements as to origination credit. (attribution committee) So you will have to be able to discuss this subject openly and hopefully upfront. Share origination credit when appropriate, allocate to firm when it appears that a client came to the firm based upon firm brand or name recognition, and consider a 5 year sunset provision whereby the credit reverts to firm or responsible attorneys.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC