Apparently Sullivan & Cromwell is no longer the only Biglaw shop paying a $50,000 clerkship bonus. According to multiple sources, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — which in January kicked off the latest round of base salary increases for associates — has followed suit.
If S&C were the only member of the $50K club, competitor firms could afford not to follow suit. We agree with what this tipster had to say (prior to the Simpson Thacher match):
“What I gather from this general reluctance on the part of NY firms to match S&C’s $50K clerkship bonus is that there’s an emerging view within the legal market that S&C’s decision to ‘surge’ their bonus rate is, in some sense, an anticipation that they’re going to have a tough recruiting season this fall.”
“This clerkship bonus craze has nothing to do with clerks — and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. What firms do care about is a bunch of newbie 2Ls (who are a month or so away from wrapping up 1L year right now), with nothing more than a pedestrian understanding on how Firm A differs from Firm B, going to S&C’s website and seeing that they offer $50K and then going to, say, Davis Polk’s and seeing that they offer less than a third of that.”
“My hunch is that if one more top firm matches S&C, then the rest will soon follow. The big question is who moves first — and when.”
We concur in this analysis. Now that Simpson has joined Sullivan & Cromwell, resisting the clerkship bonus trend will prove more difficult (at least for other top ten New York firms). Expect places like Cravath, Davis Polk, and Cleary Gottlieb to fall into line.
Have you heard of anyone else matching? Please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report