Washington partners are among the best paid in the country and are among the happiest with the compensation they receive, according to a partner compensation survey released by recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa today. That said, the nation’s capital still lags behind New York, Los Angeles and Houston, judging by most metrics the survey examined.
The survey received a total of 1,873 responses from partners across the country, including 200 in Washington. It asked partners about a range of issues, among them how transparent the firm’s compensation figures were, the type of partnership the firm has, and how happy responders were with their compensation.
According to the survey, Washington partners receive $702,000 on average, ranking the nation’s capital fourth in the country behind New York, Los Angeles and Houston. The survey found that 83% of Washington partners were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their compensation. Just 3% said they were “not at all satisfied.”
But one of the most interesting findings of the survey is that partners who hail from firms with an open compensation—that is, one where all of the partners know how much all of the other partners are making—said they were happier on average than those from firms with closed compensation systems.
According to the survey, 79% of responders from across the country whose firms have an open compensation structure said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their compensation. Seventy-eight percent of responders from firms with partially open compensation structures said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied.” Compare that to the 68% of responders who said they were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” at firms with a closed compensation structure.
Jeffrey Lowe, managing partner of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Washington office, said that the disparity may come from the fact that partners in a closed system don’t have a reference point to which they can compare their salary.
“In a closed system, all you know is your number, which is fine if you’re happy with that number. But if you aren’t, you have no idea of what other people are making. That makes it difficult to make comparisons,” Lowe said.
In Washington, partners also fared well regarding the amount of work that originated in D.C. According to the survey, average originations in Washington and Northern Virginia were $2.14 million. That figure put Washington behind New York and Houston.
Washington tied with Los Angeles for the No. 2 spot on the question asking about average billable hours. Both D.C. and L.A. reported averages of 1,700, coming just short of Dallas, which reported an average of 1,770 hours.
As for billing rates, Washington partners reported an average billing rate of $608, second only to New York, which reported an average of $700 dollars.
Looking at the numbers reported by Washington partners, Lowe said, “Overall, Washington did very well when compared to the rest of the country. Partners here in D.C. seem to be paid well and are satisfied with the amount that they are paid.”