2020 has been quite the year. Its has been a hard year. Many days are as painful as watching a New York Giants football game. The 4th quarter is here and thankfully the end is in sight of this peach. Not only is it football season, it is comp season for lawyers. This is the time of year that your contributions will be analyzed. Depending on how that goes, your compensation for next year will be determined. Also, depending on your law firm, a determination will be made on your 2020 bonus. Lawyers, the 4th quarter is here, will you score a touchdown or get sacked?
Prepare Your Game Plan
Have you put together your game plan for comp season? Do you know all your statistics? Get reports that include your hours, collections, originations, and realization rates. Use this information to determine how profitable you are to the firm. Also, get your non-billable statistics. These items may include marketing efforts, firm contributions, pro bono work, and the like. From all of this data, create reasonable expectations for yourself. I say reasonable because too many attorneys do not understand their value to the firm. Nor do they understand the firm’s compensation model. That said, some firms do not want the lawyers to understand the compensation model. In these cases, just do your best. For those at firms with a formulaic compensation model, learn it so you can have reasonable expectations.
The big day is here – did you win? Was the score close? Is your compensation in line with your expectations? Did they show you the money? If yes, that is great! If not, make a call to the replay booth. Find out why you did not get paid for your hard work and contributions. More importantly, learn what you can do better. Do you need to bill more hours? Do you need to develop more skills? Were your originations and collections too low? Does the feedback make sense to you?
Also, use this time to tell the firm what you need to be successful. Perhaps you need more support, more resources, or training in a particular area. If possible, get a commitment so that your needs will be met by the firm. Without such a commitment, can you ever reach your desired compensation?
The key word here is plan. This is a great time and chance to create a 2021 marketing plan. This holds true whether you stay with your team or decide to test the free agency market. The plan is for your benefit. So, if you are happy with your compensation and your current firm supports you, still plan to maximize your success in 2021. If you want to test the free agency market, any new law firm will want to see a business/marketing plan. So, make one. As our friend Jennifer Gillman, President of Gillman Strategic Group, says, “There is an active market right now for lateral partners. For these laterals, law firms want to know that the lawyer has a plan and the ambition to grow his or her practice.”
So lawyers, the 4th quarter is here. What are you going to do? Will you get sacked, score a TD, test free agency? Whatever you do, don’t take a delay of game penalty. Make your plan for 2021 to be a winning season.