Associate Bonus Watch 2009, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Irell & Manella Pays Twice S&C

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGCongratulations to the associates at Irell & Manella. The firm announced its 2009 bonuses last week, and they were good — very good.

Irell took the Sullivan & Cromwell bonus scale, which is effectively “market” for the top New York firms, and then DOUBLED IT. There was no memo — the information was communicated in an associate-wide meeting — but we have confirmed the following:

  • To associates who hit the billable hours target of 1900 hours, Irell paid bonuses that, in total, were double those paid by Sullivan & Cromwell and similar New York firms. Bonuses ranged from $15,000 for the class of 2008 to $70,000 for the class of 2002.
  • The bonuses were lockstep by seniority — i.e., not just paid to a handful of star performers or super-high billers. If you hit 1900 hours, you got the designated bonus for your class year.

The success of lockstep firms like Irell raises the question: Is lockstep the way to go? If you’ll be in Irell’s hometown of Los Angeles this Thursday, Elie and yours truly are doing two events, and one of them is a debate about lockstep. For information and RSVP details, see here.

The full Irell bonus table, plus additional information, after the jump.

Here’s what the Irell bonus table for 2009 looks like:

Class of 2008 — $15,000
Class of 2007 — $20,000
Class of 2006 — $30,000
Class of 2005 — $40,000
Class of 2004 — $50,000
Class of 2003 — $60,000
Class of 2002 — $70,000

That’s the good — nay, the great — news. The “bad” news, which really isn’t that bad, is that the billable hours requirement is going up to 2000 hours for 2010.

Not surprisingly, the Irell bonus news was extremely well-received. From one tipster:

Everyone I spoke with was very happy with this news, even if it is down from last year. In this market they probably could have gotten away with less, but at a cost of some good will.

In terms of firms that do lockstep (as opposed to individualized) bonuses, the Irell bonuses seem to be second only to Wachtell Lipton.

For Irell & Manella associates, the new year is happy indeed.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2009

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