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February 02, 2016 Practice Points

Tips for Getting Origination Credit, from an Expert

By Kristen Birdsall

In her essay “Origination credit—Getting credit where credit is due,” Marianne Trost finds that while women in private practice are succeeding at obtaining business and generating work, they are still having a difficult time getting credit for their efforts and successes. She argues that getting origination credit, in addition to generating your own business, is important for creating self-determination in private practice.

The article states that origination credit is a measure of an attorney’s “added value” to the firm, in addition to an attorney’s talents and billable hours. Origination credit is one way that the firm measures and tracks the additional contributions that attorneys make to the economic success of the firm. Generally speaking, origination credit has a positive impact on compensation, the ability to achieve leadership positions in the firm and the opportunities for achieving equity partnership.

Trost suggests that women can ensure that they get the credit they are due by taking steps early on. She recommends becoming more familiar with your firm’s origination credit policies, understanding how the policy works and being aware of how the policy is applied. She also suggests that it is important to begin documenting your efforts and statistics early, even if you’re an associate at a firm that does not award origination credit to associates. Trost emphasizes that laying the groundwork early by starting a conversation about origination credit will significantly increase your chances of getting your fair share when the time comes. In connection with starting the conversation early, Trost suggests speaking up and letting people know about the role you have played in originations. To facilitate the success of those discussions, she recommends engaging in negotiations where appropriate and using facts and figures to back up your claim. If you find that the discussion has gone off track or the discussion is becoming difficult to manage, she suggests referring back to the originations credit policy and seeking the support or advice of a more senior attorney.

Finally, Trost lists ways in which women can help their firm develop or refine originations policies and practices that are more equitable. She suggests that challenging a policy that has been place for a long time or that is integrated in the culture of the firm can be difficult to change on your own. Trost recommends approaching firm management as a group of attorneys. She also suggests that placing more women on the compensation committee can have a net positive impact for both women’s compensation in general and originations credit policies specifically. Lastly she recommends encouraging your firm to identify an ombudsmen to resolve origination credit disputes.

Trost closes by stating that as a result of “closing the origination gap” women will be able to obtain greater power, leverage, and influence that can be used to narrow the compensation gap, access equity partnership, and attain leadership positions in their firm.