Associate Bonus Watch 2009, Bonuses, Partner Issues

Associate Bonus Watch: Quinn Emanuel
(Plus an analysis of their new partners.)

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGYesterday was a big news day over at Quinn Emanuel. In the morning, the firm announced its new partners; in the afternoon, the firm announced its associate bonuses.
Let’s start with the bonuses. Here are the criteria, from the firm-wide email sent by Richard Schirtzer (described in his bio as “one of the most successful big-case lawyers in California”):

Associates who have been with us since mid-August 2009, or before, and who either billed or were on target to bill at least 2000 hours for the year will receive a bonus. In calculating hours, full credit was given to time spent on collection and E & O matters, and up to 100 hours of credit was given for time spent on pro bono and/or AAIT matters.

For associates who started between January and mid-August, your hours were annualized and you will receive a pro-rated bonus based on the hours milestone you would have reached had you worked at that pace for a full year. The schedule we used to calculate bonuses is set forth below.

The bonus schedule — plus the Quinn Emanuel new partner announcement, and analysis thereof — after the jump.


Here’s the Quinn Emanuel bonus schedule:
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate bonus 2009 bonus structure table chart.jpg
Quinn’s a hard-working firm. First, to access the Cravath scale of bonuses, you need to hit 2100 hours. Second, the firm has bonus schedules for 2600-2800 hours and 2800+ hours (which, while somewhat frightening, is probably a good thing; people who bill at those levels deserve special rewards).
This year’s bonus schedule is a little less generous than the 2008 Quinn bonus schedule, which paid bonuses as high as $65,000. But that was then, and this is now.
On to the new partner announcement:

The firm is very pleased to announce that Adam Abensohn, Anthony Alden, Richard Erwine, James Glass, Joseph Minias, John Pierce and Eric Wall will be joining us as partners starting January 1. Please take the opportunity to congratulate our new partners.

A few observations:
1. Are we witnessing a shift in power away from Los Angeles, where the firm started, and towards New York? Four of the new partners — Adam Abensohn, Richard Erwine, James Glass, and Joseph Minias — are from the NYC office, which has been growing at a rapid clip. We understand that this office has been benefiting from Quinn’s ability to take on big-ticket litigation adverse to banks and other financial institutions (which QE can do, since it lacks a corporate practice; most other big New York firms run into conflicts problems).
2. Three of the new partners — Messrs. Abensohn, Erwine, and Glass — were “of counsel.” In recent years, the “of counsel” title has been bestowed upon those who either were partners at a former firm or who have a high expectation of partnership at QE. This could be viewed as bad news for current / homegrown Quinn associates aspiring to partnership, insofar as they are competing with former partners from other firms becoming QE partners.
3. A notable absence: no women partners. Whatever happened to “Ivy”?
4. Another notable absence: no new Silicon Valley partners. Is intellectual property litigation, a traditional mainstay for Quinn, becoming relatively less important (perhaps due to the ascendancy of financial institutions work out of New York)?
UPDATE: Maybe the answer to this question is “no.” As noted in the comments, two of the new partners out of New York are IP litigators.
5. One Quinn tipster offered this speculation:

[A]ssociates at the firm understand that this signals a shift in the implicit bargain — or delusion, if you prefer — under which associates have labored. “Do good work and bill insane hours” is no longer any guarantee of partnership. There are associates who are uniformly praised, and who routinely bill 2600 plus hours, but were not even considered for partnership. The emerging model of the firm and the new economy simply demands fewer “service” partners, no matter how good or hard working they are.

If this is true, it’s not a development unique to Quinn. The world belongs to lawyers who have their own clients — especially in a down economy, where there’s less work to go around. CHECK YOU RAINMAKING.
But let’s end on a happy note. Congratulations to the new Quinn partners, as well as all the QE associates who received bonuses. During the Great Recession, it’s good to be at a litigation powerhouse. See also Boies Schiller.
The full memos appear below.
QUINN EMANUEL URQUHART OLIVER & HEDGES — MEMORANDUM — 2009 BONUSES
From: Richard Schirtzer
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 4:39 PM
To: Associates
Cc: Partners
Subject: RE: 2009 BONUSES
The firm is pleased to announce that bonus checks for all qualifying associates will be distributed tomorrow. Associates who have been with us since mid-August 2009, or before, and who either billed or were on target to bill at least 2000 hours for the year will receive a bonus. In calculating hours, full credit was given to time spent on collection and E & O matters, and up to 100 hours of credit was given for time spent on pro bono and/or AAIT matters. For associates who started between January and mid-August, your hours were annualized and you will receive a pro-rated bonus based on the hours milestone you would have reached had you worked at that pace for a full year. The schedule we used to calculate bonuses is set forth below.
The firm wants to thank those receiving bonuses for their hard work and their contributions to the firm’s continued success, and we wish you all happy holidays.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver Hedges associate bonus 2009 bonus structure table chart.jpg
QUINN EMANUEL URQUHART OLIVER & HEDGES — MEMORANDUM — NEW PARTNERS
From: Richard Schirtzer
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 11:04 AM
To: All Personnel
Subject: CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEW PARTNERS
The firm is very pleased to announce that Adam Abensohn, Anthony Alden, Richard Erwine, James Glass, Joseph Minias, John Pierce and Eric Wall will be joining us as partners starting January 1. Please take the opportunity to congratulate our new partners.

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