I am the managing partner of a 16 attorney insurance defense firm in Chicago Southwest Suburbs. We have 4 partners and the balance of our attorneys are associates - many of which have been with us for several years. We are on a growth spree and needing to hire more associates to handle client assignments. Associate hiring, mentoring, and training has always been a challenge for us and our clients are restricting us in the way we use associates on their files. I would appreciate your thoughts.
Attorney staffing/growth models include:
- Grow Your Own Associate Staffing
- Lateral Associate Staffing
- Contract - Staff Associate Staffing
- Lateral Partners (Equity or Non-Equity)
- Of Counsel (Various Approaches and Purposes)
- Mergers (Or Small Firm Acquisitions)
I will address the pros and cons of each model/approach in upcoming postings. I will begin by addressing the first one.
The traditional staffing model for insurance defense firms has been Grow Your Own Associate Staffing.
- Large available supply of new lawyers.
- Lower salary than experienced lawyers.
- Better odds of integrating them into the firm's existing culture.
- Takes time training, mentoring, getting them ramped up.
- May take 2-3 years before they are profitable.
- Once they become profitable you may lose them to another firm.
- No business comes with them so you must have enough work to keep they busy.
- Clients may be unwilling to allow you to use them or dictate how you use them.
- Clients may be unwilling to allow them to train on their dime.
- Will have to bill them out at lower billing rates than lateral associates or lateral partners.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC