Boston Lunch Recap: Shaping law firm compensation to align with business development initiatives


Paul Morton - Feb program.jpg
Paul R. Morton, Chief Operating Officer at Burns & Levinson

Describing himself as a "farmer who plants ideas," Paul R. Morton offered partly aspirational and partly actionable suggestions on how law firm compensation policies can be interwoven with business development and legal marketing initiatives. 

At the February 13 LMANE Boston lunch program – entitled "The Intersection of Compensation, Economics and Marketing" – Paul indicated that the increasing focus on collaboration in the workplace and with clients places a premium on using compensation strategies to help meet that overarching goal. 

A potential outcome is relying less on origination as the primary metric in determining compensation among partners, which some firms are increasingly doing, he said. 

Paul, Chief Operating Officer at Burns & Levinson, acknowledged the longstanding challenges to modifying compensation formulas at law firms. He offered a number of suggestions on how legal marketing professionals can help make the business case for collaborative work as a business development tool, such as: 

  • Understanding your firm's current compensation system and who is happy with it (and who is not) 
  • Determining whether your firm's current system supports collaborative behavior (preferably with tangible data) 
  • Understanding what competitor law firms are doing 
  • Assessing how changes are effectively implemented at your firm 

Legal marketers are better positioned to have meaningful conversations with law firm leaders "by having a better understanding of the different components of expenses, profitability, compensation strategies and business development," Paul indicated. 

The ultimate goal is to "align business development efforts and the law firm's reward system, usually seen as compensation. Far too often, there are inconsistencies between the two," he said. 

The February lunch program was hosted by Wilmer Hale with a full room of approximately 30 attendees. The next LMANE Boston event is the March 20 Spring Social at Papagayo. We hope to see you there!

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