Judging Bonuses

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on managing the paralegal’s relationships with the attorneys with whom they work, although there is a whole category on the topic with more than 90 posts and it comprises an entire chapter of The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient, and Professional. This post is prompted by a response to a question posted on the Paralegal Group’s LinkedIn discussion board by Joanna Bila:

Question to all my fellow paralegals. If your firm offers bonuses to paralegals, what structure does your firm use? Do any firm offer bonuses based on billable hours and if so, how do they calculate?

One response indicated that in six years she had never received a bonus, a response that is all two common. I have commented here often criticizing firms who do not recognize the contribution of their legal staff to their firm’s success. But the response that prompted this post was this one:

I’m new at my firm so I didn’t get a bonus this year. From what I understand it’s based on years of service, which is a joke as far as I’m concerned. I am the only paralegal in the firm that supports two attorneys. The other paralegals are one on one and a couple of the attorneys have more than one assistant.

Here is my reply. Let me know what you think:

Judging your firm’s policies this early in your tenure with the firm, especially when naming the firm on a public board, does not bode well for the future at that firm. At this stage the best policy is to figure out what the bonus structure is for the position you were offered and accepted. Then judge the fairness of the bonus by how well it recognizes your work based on the firm’s standards for that position. Keep in mind that the paralegals with the firm have their own “deal” based on the positions they were offered and accepted and that they apparently have a longer relationship with the firms and the attorneys for whom they work than you do.

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One Comment

  • Danny Atterbury says:

    I have a feeling my comment will NOT be posted because it is not politically correct, but our fellow human beings are being made aware of the truth. Please come out of denial and admit the present ostensible legal system was gradually contorted, perverted, and fashioned by lawyers for lawyers over the years and is no longer a system by the people or for the people. This is not what the framers of the Constitution envisioned. I have personally witnessed many lawyers over the years ignore the California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3-500 (Communication) and the CA State Bar Association and state and federal courts condone and affirm this reprehensible behavior. This has caused much disdain for the system and enabled lawyers without integrity to figuratively steal the food from their clients mouths. The various State bar disciplinary procedures and processes need to be changed to meaningful from a worthless exercise in futility for aggrieved clients. I earned my papers at UC Berkeley and ethics was not a big part of the program and I bet ethics aren’t popular at other institutions of education. Danny Atterbury

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