The Four Types of Attorneys Inside of Law Firms: Are You a Finder, Minder, Binder or Grinder?

 
 
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

My conversations with attorneys all day long are filled with short exchanges where they tell me exactly what sorts of roles they are fulfilling inside of law firms:
 
  • Partner with No Business. “I am on a lot of committees for associates and in charge of our associate satisfaction committee. A lot of our partners have always said I do very well helping associates and partners relate to one another.” This partner is what is known as a “binder.” A binder attorney makes sure the firm and various people inside of it (paralegals, associates, partners and others) all get along cohesively. Every firm has attorneys who excel at this.
  • Partner with Business. “I brought in $3.7 million in billings last year and originated work for 21 different attorneys in the firm. I am also working on a large matter that I anticipate will generate at least $1.3 million over the next 14 to 16 months.” This sort of attorney is what is known as a “finder” or someone who brings in the business. Finders bring in work that keeps other attorneys in the firm busy and gives work to others to do.
  • Associate with No Business. “I have been here for four years and am working extremely hard. I am starting to think that I need to find a job that is less demanding on my time. I rarely see my wife and am in the office every day.” This sort of attorney is what is known as a “grinder.” Grinders compose the majority of associates, service partners and counsel attorneys in most firms.
  • Managing Partner of a Law Firm. “It is difficult for me to keep up with the demands of being on several committees and being expected to bill and bring in a certain amount of work. I am constantly doing all sorts of administrative tasks, creating rules and so forth and it is difficult when I am not being compensated for all of the time I am spending on this. I would like to concentrate more on [generating clients, doing legal work, etc.].” This sort of attorney is what is known as a “minder.” Minders are, generally, those who create rules and procedures to make sure that grinders, binders, finders and other staff get along and the firm functions well.