Associate Bonus Watch 2008

Associate Bonus Watch: S&C Announces Half-Skadden Bonuses (But May Pay More Come Spring)

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgSources at Sullivan & Cromwell confirm that the firm is going to pay (deep breath) the New York market rate on 2008 associate bonuses.

We haven’t gotten our hands on an actual memo yet, but our sources are unhappy enough that we believe it to be true. From one S&C associate: “Either the firm is in piss poor shape & Rodge [Cohen] is a liar or we are lemmings and do what Cravath does. Bonus = total BS. People are PISSED.”

Half-Skadden wins. Partners win. Cravath defenders win.

NYC associates lose. Manhattan real estate brokers lose (again). Top billers lose.

Update (6:20 PM): Am Law Daily reports that the firm promised supplemental bonuses in the spring — this time for all classes, not just senior associates — depending on market conditions:

[The S&C] memos also said the firm intends to issue all associates another check in April. The spring distribution, or supplemental bonus, will be based on the firm’s overall financial performance. The firm also issued supplemental bonuses last year, though the circumstances were somewhat different since it was the height of the dealmaking boom.

This past April, S&C’s supplemental bonus was paltry. We reported:

[W]e have confirmed with sources at the firm that S&C paid out its special “senior associate bonuses” last week. We don’t know the numbers for all years, but word on the street is that current fifth-years received around $2,500.

So maybe, if everything goes right, a senior S&C associate will get a little more of a bonus than a first year at Skadden.

So that’s positive, right?

Update (8:02 PM): After the jump, read the full version of S&C’s bonus memo.

BREAKING: Sullivan & Cromwell Bonuses Cut, But No Freeze on Pay [AmLaw Daily]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses

Associate Bonus Watch: Sullivan & Cromwell’s Super-Special Bonuses


FROM: H. Rodgin Cohen; Joseph C. Shenker


We are writing to inform you that as of January 1, 2009, your annual base salary will increase to [market salary]. On December 30, 2008, you will be receiving a direct deposit of [Half-Skadden], less tax and withholdings, representing supplemental compensation for 2008. As we did for 2007/2008, we will be paying an additional bonus in the Spring of 2009. This bonus will be determined based on the firm’s financial performance and activity levels and will be paid to regular associates in good standing next Spring. Also, we expect to expand the scope of our Spring bonus for 2009 to include all classes of associates.

On behalf of all the partners of the Firm, we would like to thank you for your efforts and wish you and your loved ones happy holidays.



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