Compensation: Is it all about the money?

Is it all about the money? 
Money changes everything. Carefully consider all the aspects of the offer before sealing the deal. Make sure the law firm is financially sound and is poised for growth. 

Look beyond the salary negotiations and focus on the opportunity itself. Evaluate the non-monetary aspects of each situation, especially career growth and business development potential. 

Things change, you may need to create more balance in your life. Find a firm that will help you make the transitions necessary for a balanced lifestyle. 

Why are you making the move? 
Any career move must demonstrate what you bring to the table, your ability to attract and service new clients is critical. Partners with portable business would want to consider the following prior to making a move:

  • Joining forces with another firm to take advantage of economies of scale, shared expenses and streamlined administration. That way you can focus on making it rain.
  • Marketing and cross-selling beyond compensation are important factors to consider when making a lateral partner move. 
  • Joining a firm who has expertise outside your area of law can help retain existing accounts as well as bring in new business. Clients often like one-stop shopping.


Lawyers want to understand the rules of the road when making a move. In this talent market, it’s more important than ever. Make sure you understand all parts of the offer and how they work. 

It is important to understand how your prospective employer’s compensation system works. 

Most firms consider some combination of business origination, hours billed, business development and cross-marketing efforts, mentoring, firm management, and pro bono work.

Signing bonuses, profit sharing, a percentage of business generation, stock options/employee stock purchase plans etc..

Insurance (health, life, long- and short-term disability, vision, dental and dependents coverage), 401(k) or other retirement plans and employer matching programs, paid vacation or personal days, continuing education or other professional training expenses, relocation plans, and loans/forgivable loans.

Business development allowances, bar and other professional organization dues, country club/health club memberships, travel expenses, marketing budgets, cars or transportation allowances, cell phones, laptop computers, particulars about an office, etc.

Other considerations
Title, timing of partnership consideration, start date, flex time/telecommuting, billable hours requirements, compensation reviews, duties/responsibilities, assurances that you will be working on particular types of matters, or with certain partners or clients, office size and location, etc.

Get it right
Work with a legal recruiter, get it straight from those who knows the in’s and out’s of the legal landscape. Look at the total picture. Does the firm you want to join align with your career goals. It is NOT only about the money!

About On Balance Search
On Balance offers great insight and industry intelligence. Shari Davidson, president of On Balance Search Consultants, advises experienced attorneys at every stage of their career to take them to the next level. From making the lateral partner move to succession planning.

Shari takes a proactive approach to advising law firms on how to take a firm to the next level and helps rising talent make the transition to the right law firm. On Balance Search identifies opportunities that exist today, not down the road.

Contact us today. Call 516.731.3400 or visit our website at

Please note that the content of this blog does not constitute legal advice and is only intended for the educational purpose of the reader. Please consult your legal counsel for specifics regarding your specific circumstances and the laws in your states pertaining to social media and any legal restrictions regarding the law.