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Old 16-06-2020, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Most small firm lawyers pivot to a profit sharing model once they hit 4-5pqe.

That's my experience anyway, and why you'll sometimes (SOMETIMES) hear of these peeps earning more than their bigger firm counterparts do. How much you earn at this stage really depends on the type and volume of work you do. Doing only a bunch of uncontested divorces isn't going to make you a millionare - no shade to fam lawyers. Just that you'll need to handle a good number of contested matters to earn the big bucks.

You can expect the following (small firm)

Nq 3,000-4,5000
1pqe 4,500- 5,500
2pqe 5,500 -6,000
3pqe 6,000-6,500
4pqe 8,000-8,500

You should expect a pay bump from assoc to senior asssoc (3-4pqe). I'd say 1,500 - 2000.

Mid size, slap on an additional 1,000 - 1,500 at each level.

At 3-4 pqe is where your fate is really decided.

If your firm doesnt intend to promote/prepare you for partnership, you will no longer get pay increases and large bonuses. If the firm is nice, they will tell you to your face they have no intention of offering you partnership (or to profit share). This is usually the case for firms that specialise in bulk work... This is not limited to small firms - think about mid size debt collection or family law practices (i can name you 4 off the top of my head). Once you hit a certain pay, you are no profitable to keep on staff. It will be easier for the firm to hire a new nq assoc (or trainee).

This is also the stage you can start negotiating for a cut of your files or a cut of firm profits... Or at least start dropping hints that you do not intend to be a slave forever. The downside with this strategy is that you have to be ready to face an answer you don't like and prepare to move on.

The good news is that if you've spent the last 3 years making a name for yourself... You can pivot into roles in bigger firms (albeit taking a cut to your pqe - but you'll still get paid more). I've seen it done before.

If you haven't, you now have the statutorily mandated years of experience to start up on your own. I've similarly seen this done before.

The bad news is that apart from these options the only other option would be to jump from small/mid size law firm to law firm until one is willing to offer you partnership track. This means working your way from bottom up again. It is a painful process. If i had to do this, i'd go in house instead.
This was by far the most illuminating post we've seen on this forum in months. When do firms usually announce increments? Is there any room for negotiation?

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