law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgWe have been waiting a long time to get a look at the Morgan Lewis & Bockius bonus structure. The firm announced way back on October 30th that it would be delaying their bonus decision until the market settles.

Since then, the firm has found time to institute a salary freeze and fire maybe as many as 50 associates.

Now that the bonus information is finally in, the results are somewhat anticlimactic. Individual memos are out at Half-Skadden levels.

But the real news from MLB is contained in this little memo that went out on Friday night:

Most of counsel and associates have had discussions by now with respect to annual evaluations, so this is a good time to remind lawyers of our policy with respect to taking late time-recording into account when we determine bonus amounts. For the year just ended, there were 55 lawyers whose bonuses were affected by their unexcused late time entries. The impact was larger for repeat offenders.

Ouch. I supposed this is a “good time” to remind lawyers about how late time keeping can affect the year end bonus. Let’s hope that Morgan Lewis also reminded people at the much, much better time — which would have been before people lost money for being tardy with accounting.

Tipsters weigh in and the full Morgan Lewis email after the jump.


Morgan Lewis.JPGJust so everybody is clear: it is okay for Morgan Lewis to delay associate bonus announcements longer than they ever have before. It is okay for Morgan Lewis to delay a salary increase that they promised twice (once arguably when people were hired and saw the “pay scale,” a second time back in October). But it is not okay for associates to be late entering their time.

Entering your time on-time is critical, especially in a market where firms are desperately trying to collect from delinquent clients. But does the punishment here fit the crime? Our tipsters don’t seem to think so:

Considering that a lot of associates didn’t make their hours and thus received no bonus, 55 is a pretty high number of associates to have their bonuses docked for late time entries.

Some of the associates we talked to that had their bonuses docked claimed that they missed the monthly time entry deadline by an hour or so a couple of months out of the last year.

How much did this epidemic of late time entry cost MLB? And how much did the firm save from associate bonuses?

Read the full firm email below.

MORGAN LEWIS & BOCKIUS — MEMO — TIME ENTRY

Most of counsel and associates have had discussions by now with respect to annual evaluations, so this is a good time to remind lawyers of our policy with respect to taking late time-recording into account when we determine bonus amounts. For the year just ended, there were 55 lawyers whose bonuses were affected by their unexcused late time entries. The impact was larger for repeat offenders.

I won’t reiterate all of the reasons why it is important to record your time in accordance with our policy. However, as we start a new calendar year, I thought it was important to remind you that failure to comply with the policy can affect your bonus eligibility.

Also, remember that Monday, February 2, is not only Groundhog Day but also the deadline for recording all January time (first business day after the end of a month). Please get your time in by the end of that day.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Morgan Lewis Lays Off Associates. Numbers Could Reach 50

Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses


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