October 23, 2012

The Manager Next Door

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September 2007 Issue | Volume 33 Number 6 | Page 7

The Manager Next Door

Tracking compensation trends for managing partners and administrators.

What do the top jobs pay in most law firms? Do managers have similar roles, priorities and problems? Has strategic planning taken hold? Altman Weil’s latest Senior Leadership Survey for Law Firms provides valuable benchmarking data for firms of all sizes. For example, the median total compensation package for managing partners in 2006 was $500,000, but pay increases with firm size. MPs in firms with 130 or more lawyers pulled in $725,000. And while non-lawyer managers received total annual compensation worth a median $155,000, those in the 130-plus lawyer category received $450,000. In firms with 25 or more lawyers, top administrator compensation fell between that of the lowest paid partner and the average partner; in smaller firms the administrator earned less than the lowest paid partner. Of course, money isn’t all that matters. When asked about their greatest source of job satisfaction, MPs valued their role in the success of the firm, while administrators most valued authority and autonomy. Both groups agreed, however, that lack of cooperation from lawyers was their greatest source of job dissatisfaction. The survey covers both lawyer and non-lawyer management positions and is based on data collected from 267 law firms from November 2006 through January 2007.

Firm Managers' Top Three Priorities


All Lawyer Managers

  1. Profitability
  2. Organization
  3. Strategic planning

Lawyer-Managers in Firms of 130+ Lawyers:

  1. Mergers and acquisitions
  2. Geographic expansion
  3. Profitability

Non-Lawyer Managers (Executive Directors, Administrators, COOs):

  1. Personnel management
  2. Facilities/equipment management
  3. Office technology management

Percentage of managers who reported having a business plan or strategic plan in place in their firm.

  • 55%  -   All firms responding
  • 93%  -   Firms with 130+ lawyers

Profitability was ranked as the number one responsibility among all lawyer-managers, but M&A and expansion took the top spots for larger firms.