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2015LAW

Salary- First Year

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Hello Peers, 

I need your help.

I am almost at the end of my articling position and next week I am meeting with the partners to discuss my offer. Honestly, I have no clue what is the average salary and benefits package for a first-year associate in the Fraser Valley area (Surrey, Langley, Port moody, Abbotsford, Chilliwack etc.). I don't know what to expect and to negotiate on what grounds. Please advise. Some answers I am looking for are: Average salary, target billable hours, benefits, bonus, vacation days, and other considerations. 

Background information: I am working in a small to medium size firm in Abbotsford, BC. We focus on solicitor work and the firm is super busy. I was paid (Average $) during my articling position.

Thank you for your help :)

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You have probably done this, but you could:

(1) look at past and present job ads on the internet in your area.

(2) talk to any lawyer acquaintances you know in your area.

If I were in your shoes, I would just resign myself to getting paid what the tell you they want to pay you. It will be more than you got as an articling student.

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Posted (edited)

Hi - Below is the formula used in our firm (boutique practice in Metro Vancouver) to arrive at a ballpark annual salary. By no means am I suggesting that this is the standard formula across the industry. However, I know this formula has been spoken of on this forum before so its not rare/novel either. Even if this formula is not used in your firm, it should give you a good ballpark.

To use the formula, you will need to know two pieces of information (the info should be in your offer, if not ask your partners):

1) What will be your initial billing rate - I am assuming $160 

2) What is your billing target - I am assuming 1600 hours 

Your ballpark salary :

  • 1600 hours x $160 x 0.33 = $84,480

The 0.33 is based on a 1/3 arrangement. 1/3 of your total billings is your salary, 1/3 goes to overhead, remainder 1/3 to partners. This ratio may vary by firm.

Edited by BeetleGirl
Removed duplicate wording
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Posted (edited)
On 4/15/2021 at 4:26 PM, 2015LAW said:

Hello Peers, 

I need your help.

I am almost at the end of my articling position and next week I am meeting with the partners to discuss my offer. Honestly, I have no clue what is the average salary and benefits package for a first-year associate in the Fraser Valley area (Surrey, Langley, Port moody, Abbotsford, Chilliwack etc.). I don't know what to expect and to negotiate on what grounds. Please advise. Some answers I am looking for are: Average salary, target billable hours, benefits, bonus, vacation days, and other considerations. 

Background information: I am working in a small to medium size firm in Abbotsford, BC. We focus on solicitor work and the firm is super busy. I was paid (Average $) during my articling position.

Thank you for your help :)

Thanks for the mention @Starling.

I'm also finishing up articles in the Fraser Valley in the next few months and have been researching this question. I've asked some friends of mine who are first years in the Fraser Valley and the most consistent number I've seen is $80,000 + extended health (across a variety of practice areas). Lowest I've seen was $60,000 + commission (that person ultimately earned $90,000 in their first year).

Smith Legal Search's chart suggests $70,000 - $85,000 for small firms in BC:

https://www.smithlegalsearch.com/recruiting-solutions/salary-tool/

Edited by canuckfanatic
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2 hours ago, BeetleGirl said:

Hi - Below is the formula used in our firm (boutique practice in Metro Vancouver) to arrive at a ballpark annual salary. By no means am I suggesting that this is the standard formula across the industry. However, I know this formula has been spoken of on this forum before so its not rare/novel either. Even if this formula is not used in your firm, it should give you a good ballpark.

To use the formula, you will need to know two pieces of information (the info should be in your offer, if not ask your partners):

1) What will be your initial billing rate - I am assuming $160 

2) What is your billing target - I am assuming 1600 hours 

Your ballpark salary :

  • 1600 hours x $160 x 0.33 = $84,480

The 0.33 is based on a 1/3 arrangement. 1/3 of your total billings is your salary, 1/3 goes to overhead, remainder 1/3 to partners. This ratio may vary by firm.

I've seen this ratio used before but I'm curious how accurate it is with respect to overhead.  Is an Associate's overheard really that close to their take home pay in the normal course of things?  Is it practice area dependent?

My firm's salary structure can be roughly approximated by a formula but Associate pay is closer to half of billings.

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4 hours ago, BeetleGirl said:

1) What will be your initial billing rate - I am assuming $160

You sure about that rate, it seems like a really low rate for a first year associate

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10 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

You sure about that rate, it seems like a really low rate for a first year associate

$160 is simply a mathematical placeholder, for the user of the formula to replace with their own rate. 

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2 hours ago, Ruthenium said:

I've seen this ratio used before but I'm curious how accurate it is with respect to overhead.  Is an Associate's overheard really that close to their take home pay in the normal course of things?  Is it practice area dependent?

My firm's salary structure can be roughly approximated by a formula but Associate pay is closer to half of billings.

One of the major determining factors, in answering that question, is what is the ratio of support staff to lawyers in the firm? If we assume for the sake of argument that it's 1:1, which could either amount to a personal assistant for each lawyer or else a shared assistant and some staff that serve the office generally, then a big part of the overhead attributed to supporting that lawyer is paying the other staff. Then the whole rest of the firm's overhead, attributed to that lawyer, is the difference between the lawyer's pay and the staffer's.

Salary is a big part of overhead, but lawyers aren't the only people at a firm getting paid. They are just the only one's who imagine their billings are "theirs" in some rightful way. It always amuses me how often lawyers get caught up in worrying about whether they are being properly paid, to the point that they forget to account for how other people are paid.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

You sure about that rate, it seems like a really low rate for a first year associate

My hourly billable rate as a paralegal (set by the firm) was significantly higher, lol. But obviously it depends on the market and specialization and firm reputation, etc.

Edited by Turtles

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4 hours ago, Diplock said:

Salary is a big part of overhead, but lawyers aren't the only people at a firm getting paid. They are just the only one's who imagine their billings are "theirs" in some rightful way. It always amuses me how often lawyers get caught up in worrying about whether they are being properly paid, to the point that they forget to account for how other people are paid.

What's your problem,  man? 

I don't think I've ever met a lawyer this dense, yet you assume one out of whole cloth for -- what purpose exactly?

 

 

 

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