Associate Bonus Watch 2009, Associate Salaries, Chapman and Cutler

Chapman and Cutler Brings Next Year’s Bonus News Today

Chapman logo.jpgLate last week, Chicago based Chapman & Cutler released its 2009 bonus news. It’s not that impressive. But the firm also previewed what it will pay in bonuses for 2010. It’s … not that impressive. A tipster reports:

[T]his year the vast majority of associates did not receive any bonus whatsoever. So apples to apples, we fell way short of our competition (which management likes to tout as Mayer Brown but in reality is other second-tier Chicago firms). As an encore, they have already released next year’s bonus numbers and they’re still low for our peer group. They have the nerve to note they are meeting the 2008 bonuses like it’s a good thing, which is ridiculous as those bonuses too were low since they went out just after the economic crash. As upset as we are, I would be irate if I were a second year. Though it’s somewhat hidden in the memo, they have decided to completely eliminate all hours-based bonuses for second years.

Actually, screwing over second-years is not at all buried in the memo. Chapman makes it pretty clear….


Before Chapman gets to 2010, first the firm closes the loop on 2009. From the memo:
Chapman Bonus 1.jpg
Yeah, there’s no need to spend too much time on the 2009 bonus when you are giving out so little. It’s a better strategy to move on quickly to 2010:
Chapman Bonus 2.jpg
Chapman Bonus 3.jpg
Like I said, I don’t think any Chapman second year missed the announcement that they’d be shut out of the 2010 bonus pool.
But even the people who are getting bonus money aren’t very happy about the payout. Here’s the proposed 2010 bonus grid from Chapman:
Chapman Bonus 4.jpg
With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that Chapman wants its associates to know that it’s not all about the money:
Chapman Bonus 5.jpg
Good point. The problem is that Chapman associates agree that it’s not all about the money. It’s the way that Chapman is pushing through these pay cuts that have them pissed off:

These disappointing bonuses are on top of a 10% paycut which we associates voted for after given a choice between 10% paycuts or layoffs of 10% of associates. Management said they had to reduce associate costs 10% one way or another. The joke was on us! The firm reduced our salaries and then laid people off anyways.
We associates understand that the economy is bad and that perhaps the firm is hurting financially. Perhaps partners themselves took paycuts. We’ll never know because the partner representatives who were to supposed to discuss the decision at an associates committee meeting at 1:00 pm on Friday skipped to watch the Illinois basketball game at a nearby bar. The associate representatives were left to fume at a single HR employee. Our associate leader noted that morale is lower than it has ever been with virtually all associates considering quitting or planning to find jobs elsewhere. Even in this economy, we have seen people jumping ship to go in-house or lateral to other firms.
At this point it’s not about money since we pretty much expect the worst. It’s the principle. The first time, they tricked us with a fake “we’re all in this together” mentality and lied to us about not laying associates off if we would take a paycut. But with this latest blatant show of disrespect, a lot of us here are finally fed up.

We’ll see if Chapman associates can vote with their feet, or if “blatant show of disrespect” is still better than “unemployment.”

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