A Letter To Prospective Associates
Dear Prospective Associate,
Thank you for considering Lawvex as part of your professional legal journey. I’m Gary Winter, the founder and CEO at Lawvex. We have built Lawvex on a few key principles that guide who we hire and how we treat our clients, attorneys and staff. I like to say that Lawvex is “mission-driven“. Our mission is to take the frustration out of law for our clients, staff *and our attorneys*, which includes associates.
How we carry out our mission is by living out our values of compassion, education, transparency in billing, efficiency, value and speed. Before you apply for an associate position with us, or even read below to learn about us, you need to start by reading The Lawvex Difference and specifically, the part about our values. Here, we don’t just hang vague corporate platitudes like “client-centered” and “professional” that nobody really understands or knows how to implement. We have specifically chosen each of our values because they each address a specific pain-point for our clients.
If these values don’t resonate with you – we don’t care if you’re summa cum laude from Harvard law, we’re not interested in you. If you can’t embrace these values and incorporate them into your practice, then let me save you (and me) some time, don’t even bother applying. If you identify with the old adage “the practice of law would be great if we didn’t have to deal with clients” then you are not a fit for us. Because the practice of law is not about you (or me), it is all. about. clients.
On the other hand, if what I’m saying inspires you, then read on as I share about how we built the Associate Attorney Program based on addressing the pain points we had all experienced as we started out in the practice of law. Because, we were all associates at one time.
I remember my first day as a clerk and there was no onboarding at all other than signing employment paperwork. I didn’t know any of the history of the firm, I wasn’t taught the firm’s mission, vision or values and had no understanding of the culture. Partners stopped by my office and would drop files on my desk and say “I need ___, here’s the file.” I would reply “you know I’ve never done a ____ before?” and they would reply back “There’s the library, go figure it out!” No mentoring, no teaching, just on-the-job training. I had no idea what the criteria for partnership was or what I was working towards. I heard rumors that there were some 12 steps to partnership but nobody discussed it with me. I also witnessed associates that were dismissed after 7 years with a firm – not because of poor performance, but because one of the named partners didn’t like them! There was no discussion about work/life balance, financial goals or quality of life goals. Everyone’s goal was the same: 2,000 hours billable minimum just to be bonus-eligible at the end of the year. What was the bonus metric? Nobody knew. It was completely discretionary. No clue.
At Lawvex, instead of mystery, we believe in transparency. Take a look at our contrasting approach to the traditional pain points of being an associate:
|Onboarding||none – get to work!||Robust introduction to firm history, mission, vision, values, culture with no billing expectations until onboarding is complete.|
|Mentoring||none – figure it out!||Associates work under the supervision of a Managing Attorney that provides initial training and work product guidance.|
|Training||none – use the library!||Partners, associates and staff all have online access to detailed workflows and processes describing step-by-step, with screenshots, videos and other helpful tools, how to accomplish small things like a proof of service, all the way up to big things like our Family Wealth Planning process for estate plans.|
|Compensation||$100,000 – $130,000 for 2,000+ billable hours||Scaled based on mutual firm and associate understanding and agreement of associate’s financial and quality of life goals and firm profitability: e.g. approximately $90,000 for 1,500 billable minimum (130/month); $100,000 for 1,700 billable minimum (140/month); $110,000 for 1,800 billable minimum (150/month). Billables over goal receive production bonus.|
|Bonus||Discretionary bonus – annual, a mystery||Clear black and white production bonuses paid out monthly based on exceeding billable hour goals, typically about 33% of hourly rate for every billable hour over goal.|
|Work From Home||Covid is over, get back to the office!||Associates start out full time in-person for onboarding. After demonstrating competency with firm culture, values, systems and productivity, associates can blend in remote work, typically within the first year.|
|Work/Life Balance||none – 2,000 billable hours +||Intentional and mutual dialogue about financial goals and quality of life goals and matched compensation to minimum billables with bonus based on production.|
|Partner Track||12 steps to partnership – a mystery||Associates must have between 3 to 5 years experience in practice area, demonstrate independent case authority and be approved by the Board of Directors to be a partner.|
|Up or Out Policy||7 years as an associate and fired because a partner doesn’t like you||Once an associate meets the experience requirement, and is approved by the Board and eligible, the timing to shift into partnership is a mutual decision based on financial and quality of life goals, not a mandatory thing.|
You’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy into your law degree and passing the Bar exam. Your early experiences in the law are formative and will shape your view of the profession for years to come. If you’re looking for a place to work where there is unity of mission, clarity of purpose and clarity of expectations, that is exactly what we are trying to provide. If you want a clear path to grow into a partnership role where you can set your own rate, take cases you want and reject cases you don’t, get paid for originating new cases, get paid based on the income you generate, work remotely, work great cases across multiple counties in a collegial, high-expertise and high-tech environment, then this is the place for you.
If you are looking for a quick stop to get some experience before you move on to some other position, I’m not interested. When we hire an attorney, we hire the attorney and we invest a lot of time, money and energy into molding that attorney professionally. Our intention is that you will stay and be a partner. The fact that they are an associate simply has to do with their experience level. Once an associate has appropriate experience and can work independently without supervision, then our expectation is that associate will be invited to be a partner unless the associate wants to remain salaried. We are one of the fastest growing law firms in California. We have doubled our team size in the past 18 months. We expect to double again in the next 18 months. Growth means opportunity. We prefer to develop leadership and promote from within. Maybe you would like to be responsible for an office location, or maybe you would like to be a practice group leader. These opportunities are coming as we continue to grow.
If what I have shared inspires you, then I invite you to send your resume and cover letter to Tisha English, Office Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will send you a link to a short 5-minute online behavioral assessment. We also do an online cognitive assessment and then an initial phone interview. After the phone interview, an in-person interview will be scheduled and it is not uncommon for us to do more than one interview. Good luck, I look forward to meeting you.
Gary L. Winter
Founder and Managing Attorney