Associate Bonus Watch 2009, Associate Salaries

Vinson & Elkins Raises & Bonuses: New York Happy, Texas Sad

2009 Associate bonus watch above the law.JPGWe’ve got a tale of two states when it comes to the Vinson & Elkins bonus. The firm made true-up raises, putting their associates back at the top of the market for associate salaries. But the firm didn’t give out make-whole bonuses. For many associates, the money lost from a year of salary stasis is gone forever.
The surprising thing is that V&E New York associates seem to be much happier with the news than V&E Houston associates. Here’s what our New York sources tell us:

Vinson froze salaries at 2008 levels in May. But compensation memos were distributed this morning and salaries have been completely unfrozen. True-up, as you say. Added to that, we’re getting Cravath level bonuses.

Spokespeople for Vinson & Elkins confirmed the news: double-bump raises with Cravath bonuses.
But in Houston, that same story is playing out differently.

Vinson & Elkins logo.JPGIn Houston, we’re hearing a similar message, but with a distinctly different spin:

V&E bonuses were announced today. Associates are deeply unhappy. V&E had a deferred compensation comp structure that was amended mid-year, but with a promise that associates who hit their hours would be made whole at the end of the year. Didn’t happen, though all first and second years, who were told that they were not bonus-eligible, did get bonuses. Mid-levels are ticked.

Another Houston associate we spoke with was also annoyed that make-whole bonuses were not offered.
We asked Vinson & Elkins if there was any specific reason that V&E associates in Houston were less impressed than V&E associates in New York. Here’s what the firm told us:

The Firm has adopted a merit-based bonus system and bonus determinations are made at a firmwide practice group level. That system has no hard and fast hours requirements for bonuses in any office. Productivity is, of course, one of several components of the merit-based system.

Were Houston associates just less productive than their New York colleagues?
Perhaps our tipsters are not representative of the feelings of the respective offices? Let us know in the comments whether or not you were happy with the V&E bonus.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of associate bonuses

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