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A&M assisted senior management of a U.S. law firm with 100+ equity partners and 500+ staff that has offices in several major metropolitan areas. Firm earnings lagged that of its competitors and there had been several key partner defections. Management believed that decisions regarding associate and support staff compensation were haphazard.

Many partners viewed the method of allocating firm earnings as arbitrary and unfair. In addition, the firm had made little progress in developing a coherent and manageable partner retirement program.

Our solution:
Using in insights enabled by the IAFM, and based on discussions with management and extensive review, we:

  1. Recommended a new and fairer approach for allocating firm earnings.
  2. Helped the firm benchmark compensation and benefits for every position, considering geographic location, competitive norms, and the firm’s business profile. This helped the firm build a rational compensation policy and structure. We also tested for potential discrimination issues based on factors including gender, age, and ethnic background.
  3. Assessed the financial impact of each of the firm’s existing partner retirement plans and suggested modifications to achieve a comprehensive, coordinated retirement program. We suggested a plan to systematically accumulate funds for the nonqualified benefits that was: (1) cost effective, (2) tax-efficient, and (3) secure from firm creditors.

Results:

  • Firm partners now have more equitable method for allocating firm earnings
  • Management’s ability to recruit top legal talent, both at the partner and associate levels, had been enhanced.
  • Support staff is more efficient, more productive, and operates more profitably. This has noticeably improved realization rates and firm profitability.
  • Partners enjoy a better coordinated retirement program and have the assurance that funds will be available to meet the firm’s retirement obligations.