Nothing can create more tension and controversy in a law firm than partner compensation. At their best, compensation systems leave some partners feeling shortchanged. At their worst, they misallocate financial resources, cause severe infighting, and set the stage for destabilizing defections.

Although consultants admonish firms to use their compensation systems to further their strategic ends, only a few firms have clearly managed to do so. But given the current degree of upheaval in the legal profession, no firm can afford not to link compensation closely with strategy. The challenge is determining how best to accomplish that goal.

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