Biglaw, Clerkships, Money, Skaddenfreude

Skaddenfreude: A Special Report on Clerkship Bonuses

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGLast week, we asked you for information about the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We also made a few phone calls and sent out a few emails, to obtain information from the law firms themselves.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) There was a rumor about Paul Weiss matching S&C, but no one has confirmed it to us.

(b) We aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

Update: As this commenter notes, if you have two years of clerkship experience, then Weil is where it’s at: $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

2. As one Biglaw partner pointed out to us, it’s early to be thinking about clerkship bonuses, because we’re not yet at the point in the year when law clerks change over (typically in the summer or fall). So hopefully some firms will match S&C before it’s all over.

3. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

Firm by firm details, after the jump.

Some explanations, caveats, and qualifications:

1. These are only our preliminary findings. As you can see, we’re missing several firms — including some biggies. We’ll do a follow-up report later.

Update: That follow-up report, with updated and correct information, is available here.

2. If you see any errors, or if you have additional information to add, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”).

3. The source for the information is indicated parenthetically or with links.

4. It’s safest to assume that these clerkship bonuses are “flat” — i.e., a flat bonus for any qualifying clerkship experience, but without increases for the number of clerkships or duration — unless otherwise indicated. If you have multiple clerkships or years of clerking experience under your belt, you would be wise to make specific inquiries to each firm you have an offer from.

5. Firms differ, but generally not by much, in what constitutes a “qualifying” clerkship experience. Federal district or circuit clerkships, and state supreme court clerkships, are usually qualifying experiences.

(We didn’t get into the nitty gritty of this — e.g., federal magistrate clerkships, bankruptcy court clerkships, clerkships with lower state courts, etc. If you’re serious enough about a firm to be curious about this, you should call them yourself, and not rely upon what you read on a random blog.)

6. Obviously, U.S. Supreme Court clerkships are a different kettle of fish. The kind of fish you eat at Masa.

Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft: “To learn more about our summer associate program, please visit” (recruiting).
(Uh, thanks… The benefits section of the CWT website says nothing about a clerkship bonus.)
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton: $15,000 per year of clerkship (recruiting).
Cooley Godward: $25,000 (tipster w/offers).
Covington & Burling: $35,000 in Washington and San Francisco. In New York, $15,000.
Cravath Swaine & Moore: $15,000 (firm website; see this comment for navigation info)
Davis Polk: $15,000 (tipster w/offers).
DLA Piper: $10,000 for a federal district court clerkship; $35,000 for a federal circuit court clerkship.
Fried Frank: $15,000 (tipster w/offers).
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher: $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Greenberg Traurig (Atlanta): none (tipster w/offers).
Hogan & Hartson (New York): $25,000 (recruiting).
Jenner & Block (Chicago): $20,000 (tipster w/offers), but with multiple bonuses for multiple clerkships:

“At Jenner & Block, clerkship bonuses are 20k each, payable by check on your first day – two clerkships is 40k and so forth. It’s sort of ‘contingent’ upon your staying with the firm for at least a year.”

Kilpatrick Stockton (Atlanta): $5,000 (tipster w/offers).
King & Spalding (Atlanta): $10,000 (tipster w/offers).
Latham & Watkins (national): $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Mayer Brown (Chicago, D.C.): $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
McDermott Will & Emery (Chicago): $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy: $15,000 per year of a one or two year clerkship (recruiting).
Morgan Lewis & Bockius: $20,000 (tipster w/offers).
Morrison & Foerster: $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Munger Tolles & Olson: $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
O’Melveny & Myers (national): $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Paul Hastings: $35,000 (firm website).
Paul Weiss: There was a rumor that they had matched S&C. Can someone confirm?
Quinn Emanuel: $35,000 (tipster w/offers).
Ropes & Gray: From the firm website:

Lawyers who do federal appellate or district court or state supreme court clerkships immediately following law school and who then join Ropes & Gray are treated as members of their law school class for purposes of seniority and compensation, and they receive a bonus of $20,000 for each year that they clerked. Approximately 20% of the entry-level associates who joined the firm in the last three years did so after having clerked for one or two years.

Shearman & Sterling: $15,000 (recruiting).
Sidley Austin (Chicago): $35,000, for all federal and state supreme court clerkships (tipster w/offers).
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: $15,000 (commenter).
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom: “We provide a competitive bonus” (recruiting). Umm, thanks.
Smith Gambrell (Atlanta): none (tipster w/offers).
Sutherland Asbill: $10,000 (tipster w/offers).
Wachtell Lipton: none (but with compensation like this, don’t get greedy).
Weil Gotshal & Manges: According to a firm spokesman:

“Weil offers 35K for a one-year clerkship and 70K for a two-year bonus.”

Wiley Rein & Fielding: $25,000 (tipster w/offers).
Williams & Connolly: $25,000 (tipster w/offers).
Willkie Farr & Gallagher: $15,000 (recruiting).
Winston & Strawn: $15,000 (tipster w/offers).
We repeat: these are preliminary findings. If you see mistakes, or if you have additional information to add, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks!
Update: A follow-up report, with updated and correct information, is available here.
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Clerkship Bonus Information, Please

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