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Money talks. Mostly.

As we discussed, only 17% of associates are in it for the money alone. The rest want career building skills and substantive matters for the longer-term pay off.

But law firms have to match market pay rates. Consider this money the ante. And, more money can’t hurt either — especially if they are not expecting it.

BTI research shows not too many associates were expecting this latest round of bonuses. It breaks down like this:

  • 37% thought it would not happen at all
  • 35% had no expectations of more money
  • 24% were doubtful
  • 5% believed they absolutely would get another bonus before the year was over

Paul, Weiss and Mintz stepped in with bonuses against low expectations. It’s almost like associates got a double bonus — the delight of the unexpected surprise and the money itself.

Who will be the next to reset associate expectations upwards? As the war for associates heats up, branding with associates will be increasingly important and influential. The law firms who can introduce new and unexpected pay along with career builders will build a new frontier for defining law firm’s approach to not only retaining their associates — but keeping them happy.

This research is based on 369 online interviews ending September 2021.


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