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Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner has formally embraced the Orwellian view that not all partners are created equal. Earlier this month, Finnegan leaders held a firmwide associate meeting to inform the lower-class denizens that making equity partner would become less routine and more extraordinary. The firm also established formal guidelines for nonequity partners to be evaluated on their prospects for reaching the equity level. “We’ve clarified for those in the income partner position that we will consider you after two years and after four years for making equity partner,” says Richard Racine, the firm’s managing partner. “We do not view this as any kind of major change but rather more of a clarification. We’re reducing to writing what we’ve been doing the last few years.” In 2006, the 290-lawyer IP boutique had 82 equity partners and roughly 25 nonequity partners. News of the lengthened partnership track came with another caveat: The firm has reduced the number of votes it takes to strip a partner of equity status from an 80 percent supermajority to a simple 50 percent majority. Still, Racine offers reassurance: “We’ve never removed a partner and have no intent to remove a partner.”
Nathan Carlile can be contacted at [email protected].

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