Associate Bonus Watch 2010, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Weil Will Match

The latest firm to announce that it’s matching the market — which, at the current time, is embodied in the Cravath bonus scale — is Weil Gotshal. According to the memo, from executive partner Barry Wolf, Weil associates “will be paid 2010 bonuses that are commensurate with bonuses paid by peer firms.”

We assume this is Weil-speak for Cravath bonuses — or higher, if another “peer firm” decides to best Cravath. The Weil bonuses will be paid on December 23.

The full memo — available after the jump, along with reactions from Weil sources — contains good news, and bad news….

Let’s start with the good news. As noted by one Weil source, the firm has moved up the timing of payment, from January-February to late December. The earlier payment will surely be welcomed by WGM associates as they do their holiday shopping.

Here’s the bad news, from the memo:

[T]he Management Committee has determined that starting in 2011, there will no longer be a Distinguished bonus, which is a bonus in excess of bonuses paid by peer firms.

In the past, a few high-performing Weil associates received “Distinguished” bonuses — market-rate bonuses, with some extra cash sprinkled on top. Apparently this won’t be happening going forward (in 2011 and beyond). But one Weil associate isn’t too troubled:

It’s my understanding that the extra bonus was given out sort of arbitrarily and was no more than 10k, so it’s not a huge deal. So overall, no surprises, and one plus, we get the bonus before Christmas.

Looking back at the 2009 Weil bonus announcement, that’s essentially correct. Last year, the “distinguished” bonus was an extra $10,000 (except for the most senior “distinguished” associates, who received an extra $15,000 for their distinction).

A second source is less pleased by the Weil bonus news:

I know a lot of associates have been fuming since Cravath announced its bonus scale. We’ll see if any of that anger shows in the litigation section meeting tomorrow when they ask the anonymous questions submitted by associates.

For ease of reference, here’s the Cravath bonus scale for 2010 that everyone keeps complaining about:

Class of 2009 – $7,500
Class of 2008 — $10,000
Class of 2007 — $15,000
Class of 2006 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $25,000
Class of 2004 — $30,000
Class of 2003 — $35,000

And here’s the complete Weil memorandum, for your reading pleasure.

WEIL GOTSHAL & MANGES — MEMORANDUM — 2010 ASSOCIATE BONUSES

From: Wolf, Barry
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2010
To: US Associates
Subject: Associate Bonuses

The Management Committee has decided that Associate bonuses will be paid on December 23, 2010. The firm remains committed to compensating Associates at market rates. Accordingly, Associates will be paid 2010 bonuses that are commensurate with bonuses paid by peer firms. Evaluation meetings will take place in December 2010. The Management Committee will re-evaluate the timing of bonus payments next year.

Additionally, the Management Committee has determined that starting in 2011, there will no longer be a Distinguished bonus, which is a bonus in excess of bonuses paid by peer firms.

The Firm recognizes the importance of the Associate evaluation process. We will continue to focus on providing associates with timely and thorough feedback and providing a culture where all Associates have opportunities for professional development.

Barry M. Wolf
Executive Partner
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2010
Associate Bonus Watch: Weil Pays ‘Distinguished’ Bonuses

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