Our firm combines many of the best attributes of large and small firms. Our construction law and commercial real estate groups are nationally known and highly regarded and are larger than their counterparts at many of the Twin Cities’ largest firms. Yet we enjoy the advantages of a smaller firm, including an informal atmosphere and a minimum of bureaucracy.
We focus on serving leading entrepreneurs and business owners who seek our assistance with their principal business activities. Because we do not overstaff our clients’ matters, our associates can expect frequent direct client contact. The ability to develop client relationships affords our associates the opportunity to develop a thriving practice with dynamic clients.
We have a broad and diverse client base within our principal practice areas, which means we don’t rely on just a few clients. Therefore, our financial performance has been quite consistent over the years, without the booms and busts that some firms experience. We also have been very stable because we are fiscally conservative. For example, unlike some firms, we do not borrow to fund cases or pay salaries. Finally, we do not seek to grow simply for the sake of growth, preferring instead to grow in response to our clients’ demands.
Associate Salary and Benefits
Our annual base salary starts at $116,000 for first-year associates. Our associates are also eligible to receive discretionary annual performance and merit bonuses. Our benefits package also includes health, dental and disability insurance, and 401(k) retirement plan with a partial firm match. We also reimburse bar review and examination fees for admission to the Minnesota bar and pay for annual attorney licensing, state and local bar association memberships, and continuing legal education courses.Of course, our salary and benefits are subject to modification by the firm.
It may be tempting for a law student or recent graduate to assume that shareholder compensation at a firm is correlated to the starting salary the firm offers, or that the bigger a firm is, the more its shareholders earn. But being big does not guarantee that a law firm is highly profitable. Nor is it necessarily true that shareholders in smaller firms earn less than their big-firm counterparts. So, in deciding where to start your career, we encourage you to give substantial weight to your earning potential as a shareholder at the firms you are considering. Due to our sophisticated practice areas and sound financial management, we think our shareholders’ earning capacity compares favorably to any Twin Cities commercial firm.
Our firm was formed in 1981 by a group of partners who broke off from a major Twin Cities law firm. They wanted to escape big firm bureaucracy and inefficiency. We continue to this day to place a high value on knowing everybody in the firm well, and we keep committees, procedures, and meetings to a minimum. We also value openness about compensation and firm governance among shareholders and associates. Unlike many firms, every shareholder has access to the firm’s financial and compensation information. The benefits of an open small firm atmosphere may seem abstract, but we think our life style is much more pleasant than that found in a big firm.
No Second-Class Partners and No Buy-In
We have only one class of shareholder and we do not require new shareholders to “buy-in”. Some law firms have more than one class of partner or shareholder. In those firms, the “non-equity” partners or shareholders typically cannot vote on firm matters and they receive a salary rather than participating in firm profits. Some law firms also require new partners or shareholders to “buy-in” by making initial and continuing yearly cash contributions in exchange for their new partnership or shareholder interest. The buy-in amount can be quite substantial. We have avoided the need for a buy-in by being profitable.
Our objective is to attract and retain the very best attorneys. We strive to hire for the long term, and we hope that each associate we hire will become a shareholder. This is consistent with the nature of our practice. Because our clients demand experienced, top-quality representation, our practice is not based on assigning a large volume of routine or commodity work to junior associates. Instead, we focus on supervising and training our associates so that they can gain the trust of our clients. This means that the principal value of our associates to us is not what they can bill as a junior associate, but rather, what they can contribute as an experienced senior associate and shareholder. We invest heavily in our associates and view them as colleagues, not fungible commodities.
Summer Associate Program
We offer a summer associate program for second-year law students.
We are always interested in qualified lateral candidates. Our transparent compensation system rewards hard work and business generation.
We consider associates for shareholder status seven and a half years after graduation from law school.
If you are interested in applying for a lawyer position, please send a cover letter, resume, and copy of your law school transcript to:
Steven C. Cox
Matthew T. Collins
Fabyanske, Westra, Hart & Thomson, P.A.
800 LaSalle Avenue, Suite 1900
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: (612) 359-7600
Fax: (612) 359-7602