3 Reasons Income Partners (Non-Equity Partners) Are So Unhappy

We recently released our 2019 Lawyer Happiness Survey Results and one thing that clearly stands out in both 2018 and 2019 is how unhappy Income Partners (also known as non-equity partners) are. Get your FREE copy of the results HERE. There are many reasons why Income Partners are so unhappy but here are 3 reasons we think Income Partners are so unhappy:

  1. The Partner Pay Spread is Widening. The difference in pay between the “haves” (the Equity Partners) and the “have nots” (the Income Partners) is trending larger at law firms. According to a recent post entitled “What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Partnership” on Above the Law, the partner pay spread ratio when including Income Partners at Kirkland and Ellis is 43 to 1!

  2. The “Partner” Title Creates Golden Handcuffs. A “partner” title creates expectations in the job marketplace and for those Income Partners that make a pretty good living, it can be hard to move to a new firm due to a lack of a book of business and a large compensation package (perceived or accurate). Not to mention your friends and family may believe you are an equity partner when you are not and that might become clear if you move to a new job. For more on this, check out “Repeat After Me, Partnership Without Equity is Not a Partnership” on Above the Law.

  3. Income Partners Feel They Have Limited Career Advancement Opportunities. In our 2019 Lawyer Happiness Survey Results, a whopping 71% of Income Partners reported they are unhappy with their career advancement opportunities. That number was 70% in 2018. That’s an incredibly high number of unhappy lawyers and makes sense to us given #1 and #2 above.

It’s not all bad being an Income Partner but watching Equity Partners compensation grow at a much faster rate, not being able to leave the firm, and a feeling of little ability to advance your career can leave any one unhappy. It’s no wonder “Don’t Be Lawyer” was #5 on a recent list of tips for being happy on CNBC.com.