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Taft Switches to Single-Tier Partnership Structure to Attract Talent, Encourage Fresh Voices

Marilyn Odendahl TheIndianaLawyer.com

To fill its roster with the best attorneys at a time when the legal profession is struggling to keep pace with changes in technology and the marketplace, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP has turned to an old idea. The firm announced a revamped partnership structure in January. It abandoned the two-tier format that divided the partners into being either equity or non-equity in favor of a single-tier, equity-only structure. In conjunction with the switch, more than 100 non-equity partners were promoted to equity.

Jeff Liebster, partner at the international legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa, is seeing more firms go in the same direction as Taft but calling it a two-tier structure. They are accepting lower capital contributions from junior partners because of the robust market for laterals.

“When a high-performing attorney joins a new firm, he or she is usually accompanied by a team of junior lawyers. These team members do not always have sizable books of business that would qualify them for equity status and the requirement for a full equity investment may result in a financial burden,” Liebster said. “It is in the lateral and the firm’s best interests to bring these lawyers in with the title of ‘partner’ in order to facilitate the attraction of clients and the building of a practice. The non-equity tier gives the lateral the status, without the expense.”

Jeff Liebster is a Partner with our Partner Practice Group in New York. He is a zealous advocate for both candidates and firms, which is evident in his track record of successful partner placements with many of the top law firms in the world.

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