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17traderNJ
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IP Boutique Question
« on: Feb 5th, 2007, 10:18pm »
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I am currently weighing an offer from an IP boutique that has a minimum of 1400 billable hours (salary tied to that).  I will be paid for 50% of the work that I bill above those hours, however.  What exactly does this mean?  How does this differ from a lockstep compensation structure?
 
Thanks a lot...the advice given out in these forums is invaluable!
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Isaac
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Re: IP Boutique Question
« Reply #1 on: Feb 6th, 2007, 5:40am »
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on Feb 5th, 2007, 10:18pm, 17traderNJ wrote:
I am currently weighing an offer from an IP boutique that has a minimum of 1400 billable hours (salary tied to that). I will be paid for 50% of the work that I bill above those hours, however.

 
My guess is that if you bill 1500 hours, for the extra 100 you would receive an additional 50 hours of salary.  But if there is any doubt, you should get that cleared up by the person with the cash and the calculator.
 
Lockstep has to do with how your annual salary increases would be structured.
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Isaac
tonyp
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Re: IP Boutique Question
« Reply #2 on: Feb 6th, 2007, 3:38pm »
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I'd guess, slightly differently from Isaac, that you'd be paid 50% of your excess billings - thus, if you bill at $250/hr, you'd get paid $125/hr for each hour billed over 1400.
 
This is a fairly common incentive bonus structure in my experience.  A lot of traditionally leveraged firms pay relatively junior associates about a third of their billings in salary.  My firm pays a productivity bonus of 150% of salary for hours billed over the minimum - which, if salary is 1/3 of billings to start with, works out to something in the neighborhood of 50% of excess billings depending on how you do the math.
 
Even firms that do lockstep (in which every member of a given entering class of employees has the same base salary) often do productivity-based bonuses.
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smgsmc
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Re: IP Boutique Question
« Reply #3 on: Feb 10th, 2007, 8:03am »
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Hi,
 
Up to now, I've always worked in R&D, so the concept of billable hours is new to me.  I've heard all sorts of stories.  What is considered a base "reasonable" number of billable hours vs a "slave driver" number of hours.  For me "reasonable" is ~50 hr/week actual hours worked.  I know there will be peak times when extra hours are needed.  I know there is probably a wide range, but how many actual hours work would translate to one billable hour?  For a new inexperienced agent (engineering, no law school)?  After one year of training?
 
Not to stray too far off topic...here's a related question.  Do billable hours drive the social atmosphere in a law firm?  In two firms I'm familiar with, lawyers came into the office in the morn, maybe got some coffee, went to their desks, turned on the clock, and went straight to work.  Lunch was munching a sandwich at their desks for 10 min.  I'm not a proponent of yakking endlessly or 1+ hr lunch breaks.  But some social interaction would be good.  One guy told me, hey, if 1hr = $200, chatting with someone for 15 min costs $50.  Even for work-related issues, I was hesitant I have a friend who worked a couple of summers at a law firm (secretarial work).  She found the atmosphere stifling because no one ever talked to each other.  Is this the norm?  I realize that part of it is the nature of the work.  There are no group projects as such, unless you're doing litigation on a large case.  Otherwise, an attorney or agent works solo on each application.  I'd appreciate any insights here.
 
Thanks.
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exchange240sx
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Re: IP Boutique Question
« Reply #4 on: Feb 11th, 2007, 8:54am »
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I've worked both in an IP boutique as well as a general practice law firm and it seems that the billable hour is pretty close in both arenas.  I've been told by senior attorneys that for young/inexperienced attorneys, about 50%-60% of the actual time spent in the office will be billable.  One you get to be very proficient, that percentage will rise to be about 75% at most.  Anything more than that is rarely possible according to the advice from other attorneys.
 
That being the case, 1400 hours/year could require a new attorney up to 2800 hours of actual "in office" time (53 hours/week), which really isn't that bad.  
 
I would also point out that most "big" firms have an annual billable requirement of 2000 hours, with a productivity based bonus.
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