Associate Bonus Watch 2009

Sullivan & Cromwell Spring Bonus
(And: The 2009 Summer Associate Budget)

law firm associate bonus watch 2008 biglaw bonuses.jpgLast week, we reported on stealth layoffs at Sullivan & Cromwell. We mentioned that 15 to 20 associates were laid off (although subsequent reports we’ve received indicate the number may be closer to 30).
We also observed that S&C’s promised spring bonus would be an excellent opportunity to see if the layoffs were motivated by the economy, or by poor performance from the firm’s attorneys. Last week, I wrote:

This provides Sullivan with a rare opportunity to prove that its layoffs are performance based. If everything is fine, if the economy is not a factor, if the firm has really just laid off 15 to 20 “bad lawyers,” then maybe S&C will reward the good lawyers still at the firm?

Well, news is now trickling in about the special bonus S&C paid out late last week. Last year, the spring bonus was as much as $30,000 for eighth-year associates.
This year, sources report that eighth-year associates topped out at $8,500. For first-year associates, the spring bonus was $500.
No, I didn’t miss a zero.
One tipster reports general dissatisfaction with the bonus:

People here are mostly furious. We view it as extremely insulting to our intelligence that the firm would tell us this is about economic problems despite having sky-high PPP — almost a million above Skadden. Morale is terrible, both because of the stealth layoffs and the shameful bonuses. People are talking about leaving when the economy picks up.

It doesn’t sound like things are looking much better for summer associates. More details after the jump.

Sullivan Cromwell LLP new logo Sullcrom.jpgOn Friday, Simpson Thacher released its new Summer Associate Meal policy. STB is limiting summers and full-time associates to one lunch per week, with a hard cap of $65 per lunch.
Sullivan doesn’t seem to have any limit on the number of lunches summers or associates are allowed to take. Instead, the firm has a hard cap of $500 per summer associate over the course of the summer. Within that limit, people are allowed to spend $80 for dinner and $60 for lunch.
Tipsters report that in past years, the summer budget has been essentially unlimited.
Another (disgruntled) tipster puts it this way:

No one seems concerned about the firm’s actual economic health, but criticism of partners’ greed is very common.

Welcome to the recession, summers who were lucky enough to get a summer associate position in the first place. Remember, Above the Law is here to provide free entertainment all summer long!
Earlier: Stealth Layoff Watch: Sullivan & Cromwell Has A Very Special Spring Bonus
Associate Bonus Watch: Sullivan & Cromwell’s Super-Special Bonuses
Simpson Thacher Dishes Out Summer Associate Meal Policies

(hidden for your protection)

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