Consider three partners with the 2018 performance metrics shown in Table 1. Which one contributed most to firm profit? Partner A is a tax partner who worked hard serving clients willing to pay for the time billed; Partner B is a deal lawyer whose major client did no major deals last year; and Partner C is a junior litigator who discounted heavily to win a big case that then settled early.

Partner compensation committees throughout Big Law will grapple with this kind of question in the coming weeks. Many will incline to believe that Partner A (who kept busy on high realization work) contributed robustly to firm profits, while Partner B (who struggled to get busy and had average realization) contributed a little, and Partner C (with soft hours and very low realization) probably didn’t contribute anything at all.

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