Lawyers practice a difficult and demanding profession. They expect to be well compensated. In thinking about what that means, it can help to consider the basic question, “Why do we work?” Samuel Johnson supplied an obvious answer when he famously observed, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” But I am not being paid to write this article, and instead of labeling myself a blockhead, let me refer to the insight of eminent psychologist Theodor Reik: “Work and love — these are the basics. Without them there is neurosis.”
Why do we work? For money, but also for sanity. We expect and need to be compensated in nonmonetary ways. Noneconomic compensation matters to top-flight lawyers — otherwise, they would have long ago fled to investment banks. Law firms that want to recruit and retain the best (and the sanest) must compensate not only in dollars but also in psychic gratification. Accordingly, managers of elite firms need to think consciously about what lawyers are looking for beyond money. Here are some key noneconomic elements of compensation.
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