| EDGE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW
EDGE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW | 57
By Ger y Riskin
the problem lies with the ways in which the
compensation process plays out, including expecta-
tions of partner behavior and the communication
of the process by which a figure is reached.
e result is that if you ask any individual partner to describe the compensation system,
you will get a unique interpretation that will diﬀer in some way from that of any other part-ner in the ﬁrm.is diversity of perception creates the fodder for unresolvable circuitous dis-cussions (debates, really) about the compensation system.
compensation system. Sometimes, they’ll indicate that it’s
HOW ARE COMPENSATION DECISIONS COMMUNICATED?
simply part of the strategic review. After peeling back the
layers and determining what they really want, however, it is
mountains of data and then engage in debate and discussion about what is fair, what
often apparent that the compensation system is just ﬁne “as
behaviors the firm is trying to encourage or discourage, and how everyone else affected
is.” It is the deployment of the compensation process that
would feel about any particular decision.
After the committee completes this onerous (and typically thankless) task, the numbers are
In this article, I will explore why so many partners may be griping about
communicated to those aﬀected without any detailed explanation. As a result, a partner re-
a compensation system that, in fact, is just ﬁne.
ceiving his or her “number” is left to speculate how the number was determined, usually at-tributing more to billable hours and receipts than the compensation committee did. is in
WHAT THE HECK IS THE COMPENSATION SYSTEM?
turn leads to the conclusion that nothing really matters except numbers — or worse, even the
numbers are not assessed uniformly or equitably, but rather are covered in a cloak of bias.
intervention (a rarity, to say the least), all too often there is a sense of mys-
All this could have been avoided if the number had come with an explanation of the
tery about what the compensation system is and how it is applied. Subjective
factors that affected that partner’s compensation and how. The explanation need not be
factors are often listed somewhere, and in fairness, are usually properly consid-
extremely specific, but it must at least touch on the factors that were considered most rel-
ered. However, this is a well-kept secret from those aﬀected by the system.
evant in assessing that partner’s number.
| EDGE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW
EDGE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW | 59
THE HIDDEN PROBLEM: WHAT’S THE PLOT?
WHAT IF THE COMPENSATION SYSTEM IS FLAWED?
quires that the partner know what the ﬁrm expects of her or him and
behaviors that the ﬁrm expects from its lawyers. ere are many ﬁrms in
the ﬁrm’s assessment of how performance relates to those expectations. In
which the lawyers will nevertheless tend toward the desired behaviors out of
most ﬁrms, those expectations are not clear in the ﬁrst place, but that does
loyalty and respect for good leadership.
not stop the compensation committee from considering what they ought to
If, however, the dissonance between the compensation system and the de-
sired behaviors is great enough, then it will be necessary to at least ﬁne-tune
If a partner is unaware of what the firm expects, communicating the
the system, and signiﬁcant changes might well be necessary. It is my hope
dissonance between the expectations of the firm and the performance of
that this article will discourage many ﬁrms from prematurely reaching the
the partner will fall on deaf ears. Perhaps instinctively knowing that, most
conclusion that the compensation system must be changed.
compensation committees are reluctant to have the dissonance discus-
One last thought: Some of the ﬁnest ﬁrms in the world have secret sys-
tems in which no partner knows what any other partner earns. is process
So if we ﬁnd the plot — that is, ensure the partners know what is expected
all but eliminates the jealousy and aggravation that comparisons can cause.
of them, not just at compensation time but throughout the year — then the
I appreciate the challenge of getting the horses back in the barn; neverthe-
compensation committee can apply subjective factors with more conﬁdence
less, I think that senior management ought to consider the possibility of
and communicate better to those aﬀected. Communicating the outcome re-
going to such a process if at all practical. •
At least two individuals from the compensation committee must agree upon
the precise message that is to be delivered to each partner and create a bul-
let-point outline. e points must connect the deliberations of the compen-
sation committee to the individual partner’s plan and performance. is
requires at least a consultation with the partner’s practice group leader (if
this is not already integrated into the compensation process).
2. The Meeting
Those two individuals and the partner should block off at least 30 minutes,
Your preferred future
even if the meeting takes only 10. The objective of this meeting is to de-liver a clear message that contains encouragement and appreciation for thecontributions of that partner and, if applicable, precise areas for improve-ment with a process to help the partner achieve it. That process might in-
volve an internal or external coach, a course or program, or some other
competing for clients, Gerry Riskin's years as a managing
customized solution. The options should be discussed with the partner,
partner of an international firm and his 28 years of consulting since
who should participate in selecting what he or she believes to be the most
co-founding Edge qualify him to participate with you in an initial dis-
cussion about the future you desire for your firm and some
options for breathing life into those aspirations.
3. Fol ow-Up
Email: [email protected]
e compensation process is endless. e process whereby partners receive
feedback on their performance in the normal course of events must be inte-grated with the compensation committee’s future deliberations.
http://www.tribunalconstitucional.es/es/jurisprudencia/Paginas/Auto.aspx?cod=23743 TRIBUNAL CONSTITUTIONAL DE ESPANA Sala Segunda. Auto 151/2013, de 8 de julio de 2013. BOE núm. 183, de 1 de agosto de 2013. Volver al listadoAuto:151/2013Fecha:08/07/2013Sala:Sala SegundaMagistrados:Excms. Srs. doña Adela Asua Batarrita, don Francisco José Hernando Santiago, donFernando Valdés Dal-Ré, don
To the Staff and our Clients at Southampton Health Services regarding two “new” appetite suppressants;The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved two “new” weight-loss drugs , Belviq and Qsymia . It was done, not because these medications are particularly unique or more effective, but because the FDA has not approved anything in the past 13 years to help decrease our na