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becoming a biglaw partner

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Hi,

I have a few questions regarding becoming a partner in a biglaw firm:

1) how long does it take on average? I know firms list their partnership tracks as 6-8 years usually but i assume thats the minimum

2) what percentage (approximately) of associates (who don't leave biglaw) become partners? 

3) what percentage of partners make above 750k and what age are most by the time they attain that level of compensation

thanks

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My understanding/experience is:

  1. This can vary quite substantially by firm, and also can vary by whether the firm offers non-equity partnership. Are you asking about equity or non-equity partnership? I.e. do you care about owning part of the firm, or are you also interested in just the prestige of the title?
  2. I've very rarely come across very senior associates - the end game, as far as a firm is concerned, is partnership. If you've been around for a long time and don't seem like a viable option for partnership, it's more likely that you'd be pushed (or "gently suggested") out, unless the firm offers some kind of counsel or other non-partnership track option through which you could continue adding value. So your question is framed a bit oddly - if an associate doesn't choose to leave biglaw, then in most cases, they will (a) become partner, (b) move into a non-partnership track position, or (c) leave the firm. It's not like the U.S. where people can stay associates forever, and partnership is relatively less common.
  3. This one I can't answer, as I'm not a partner and don't have access to that kind of compensation information. I expect your question won't produce meaningful responses unless you specify particular practice areas, though.
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At my firm/as far as I know:

1. 7-8 years and sometimes more for income partnership, then an additional 1-3 years and sometimes more to move from income to equity.

2. Almost all of them - but to put it another way, very few lawyers who don't make partner stay long term. The firms are trying to change this now, offering more counsel and in house/in firm/business stream positions for senior lawyers, but it's still a relatively uncommon path.

3. I don't know, and I don't think anyone other than partners would really know, but my sense is that earning $750k per year is not the norm. Sounds high.

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1 hour ago, KOMODO said:

3. I don't know, and I don't think anyone other than partners would really know, but my sense is that earning $750k per year is not the norm. Sounds high.

Am Law puts out some data, but you need a subscription to access it. Data from 2016 (https://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/canadian-law-firms-hold-their-own-when-it-comes-to-making-money) says Osler PPP at $1.045m, Blakes at 985k, Faskens at 795k (which kind of surprising to me).

Depending on where you look, I've seen Gowlings at 500k-700k.

Heenan was at 350k-400k when it went under I think.

 

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4 minutes ago, besmackin said:

Am Law puts out some data, but you need a subscription to access it. Data from 2016 (https://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/canadian-law-firms-hold-their-own-when-it-comes-to-making-money) says Osler PPP at $1.045m, Blakes at 985k, Faskens at 795k (which kind of surprising to me).

Depending on where you look, I've seen Gowlings at 500k-700k.

Heenan was at 350k-400k when it went under I think.

 

Doesn’t surprise me. 
 

Litigation isn’t as lucrative, is it? 

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4 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Doesn’t surprise me. 
 

Litigation isn’t as lucrative, is it? 

Article says Fasken was 3rd most profitable big firm in Canada, I would have pegged them lower tbh. 

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2 minutes ago, besmackin said:

Article says Fasken was 3rd most profitable big firm in Canada, I would have pegged them lower tbh. 

I would have ball parked average compensation at nationals at maybe $800K/ 

based on rumour and conjecture 

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15 minutes ago, besmackin said:

Am Law puts out some data, but you need a subscription to access it. Data from 2016 (https://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/canadian-law-firms-hold-their-own-when-it-comes-to-making-money) says Osler PPP at $1.045m, Blakes at 985k, Faskens at 795k (which kind of surprising to me).

Depending on where you look, I've seen Gowlings at 500k-700k.

Heenan was at 350k-400k when it went under I think.

 

I think this is an important caveat from that article?

"After this item was first published on Monday, Osler spokesperson Judy Stein-Korte contacted Legal Post to note that firm does not provide data to the U.S. publisher: “Osler has never participated in any survey in which we are asked for financial data including the recently published Global 100 List. Numbers attributed to Osler are entirely speculative.”

Those numbers all sound high to me to be 2016 averages, but again, I'm just an associate and don't actually know. But my guess is that Am Law might not actually know either.

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1 minute ago, KOMODO said:

I think this is an important caveat from that article?

"After this item was first published on Monday, Osler spokesperson Judy Stein-Korte contacted Legal Post to note that firm does not provide data to the U.S. publisher: “Osler has never participated in any survey in which we are asked for financial data including the recently published Global 100 List. Numbers attributed to Osler are entirely speculative.”

Those numbers all sound high to me to be 2016 averages, but again, I'm just an associate and don't actually know. But my guess is that Am Law might not actually know either.

That's definitely fair, people seem to treat the Am Law #s for US firms as gospel, no idea how accurate they are for Canadian firms. 

 

4 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

I would have ball parked average compensation at nationals at maybe $800K/ 

based on rumour and conjecture 

I would have guessed around $800k too for the top 10ish big firms. I would have thought Davies/McCarthys/Stikes would have better numbers. But maybe that speaks to the (in)accuracy of the survey more than anything else, so who knows.

All of which is to say, I don't think there is any reliable figures out there. But thought I'd share some numbers since I know students love this stuff 

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35 minutes ago, besmackin said:

Article says Fasken was 3rd most profitable big firm in Canada, I would have pegged them lower tbh. 

FWIW I've heard from people at several different firms in Vancouver that Fasken has the highest profit per partner in the city, and that the Vancouver office is the most profitable office nationwide. Not sure what the source of that info is though. They do have a reputation (at least in Vancouver) for high billable targets and aggressive cost-cutting, so it seems believable to me at first glance.

Edited by hitman9172

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26 minutes ago, hitman9172 said:

FWIW I've heard from people at several different firms in Vancouver that Fasken has the highest profit per partner in the city, and that the Vancouver office is the most profitable office nationwide. Not sure what the source of that info is though. They do have a reputation (at least in Vancouver) for high billable targets and aggressive cost-cutting, so it seems believable to me at first glance.

How can this be possible when Fasken isn't a seven sister firm /s

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1 hour ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

I would have ball parked average compensation at nationals at maybe $800K/ 

based on rumour and conjecture 

I'm sure the numbers from Morgan's pull the average up...

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1 hour ago, pzabbythesecond said:

What does someone do with 800k a year??

Don't worry theres entire industries devoted to taking money away from those people, like international first class plane tickets, Italian sports cars and the garages to collect them in

https://thevaults.ca/

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3 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

What does someone do with 800k a year??

At least In the case of one big firm partner I met: pay SS and CS to 2 exes, move into a bachelor condo, and worry about money. 
 

 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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3 hours ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

I would have ball parked average compensation at nationals at maybe $800K/ 

based on rumour and conjecture 

I could believe 800k, but I would expect  (as a know-nothing junior associate not working at a big firm) it would consist of lots of partner making 600k or so and a few making boatloads of money who drag the average up.

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1 hour ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

Don't worry theres entire industries devoted to taking money away from those people, like international first class plane tickets, Italian sports cars and the garages to collect them in

https://thevaults.ca/

Don’t forgot you also need to pay money to protect money! Cameras, concierges, alarms, various insurances...and maybe counsel, if your brother tries to skim a little off the parents’ estate, your ex wants part of the home, or your neighbour wants to build a fence/plant a tree.

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33 minutes ago, Coolname said:

I could believe 800k, but I would expect  (as a know-nothing junior associate not working at a big firm) it would consist of lots of partner making 600k or so and a few making boatloads of money who drag the average up.

I used to work in a job years ago that provided access to salaries and partner compensation at some of the big national firms, and your thoughts are generally accurate. A few heavy-hitters skew the averages upward. I'll also say that the numbers for one of the firms mentioned in that 2016 Financial Post article quoted above are pretty accurate.

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