A successful Biglaw firm that goes without billing or origination credits for partners? Could it be?
Covington & Burling — a firm that brought in $1,523,994,000 gross revenue in 2022, putting it at No. 28 in the most recent Am Law 100 — recently made headlines for doing just that. According to firm chair Doug Gibson, Covington bases its partner compensation on “their overall contributions to the firm.”
The National Law Journal has the details on Covington’s “unusual” compensation methodology for partners:
“It’s a subjective standard, and we take into account all the different ways in which partners contribute. It, of course, includes efforts and successes in developing client relationships and generating work,” said Gibson. “But it also includes other contributions such as working as members of teams to do great creative work for clients, pro bono efforts and assisting on firm committee work.”
Some industry observers say the lack of origination credits may carry risks, such as relying on perceptions instead of hard data in setting pay. But Covington leadership and partnership argue the pay model is at the heart of the firm’s team-based approach in working on client matters. They also assert that the compensation system has, at times, provided them an edge with lateral hiring against its peer firms.
Thanks to the firm’s team-based approach, partners work together to make sure all matters are appropriately staffed. “If clients are going to get the full benefit of our expertise, we need our partners to work well together,” Gibson said, adding, “Our compensation model creates that atmosphere.”
Although Covington’s compensation model is quite different than those employed by most other top Biglaw firms, Gibson says there’s no need for change — and with profits per partner at $2,328,000, he may be right.
No Origination Credits in Partner Pay? Covington Sees Advantages [National Law Journal]
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.