Until Cravath proves me wrong, I’m going to keep on believing that associate bonuses will be better this year than last. But this early indication from the notoriously secretive firm of Jones Day doesn’t bode well for my prediction.

Today Jones Day communicated to its administrative staff that it wouldn’t be paying them a bonus this year.

Actually, it’s worse than that for staff at Jones Day. Not only will they not be getting bonuses this year, but the firm’s entire “Year End Payment Program” has been terminated. Jones Day says that now it will only pay its staff based on “performance.”

Let’s take a look at the memo to staff, and shudder to think about what this might mean for Jones Day associates…

The memo was sent out to administrative and support personnel from Hugh Whiting, the Jones Day partner in charge of the staff. It’s really terrible news for staff, but it’s difficult to know if it means anything for Jones Day associates (click to enlarge):

We know how Jones Day works. Total black box, nobody knows what the guy down the hall is making. Instead of openness and transparency, JD prefers to keep their attorneys alone and in the dark. That’s just how they roll.

But, historically at least, Jones Day associates get some kind of bonus. I don’t think that this language about making annual compensation “align with performance” will result in no bonus for Jones Day associates.

Still, if Jones Day is going to treat its own staff like this cheaply, it’s not a good sign for associates at the firm. When the JD bonus drops, send us a text (646-820-TIPS). We know JD likes to keep things secret, but if you’re getting a $0 bonus, there are a lot of recruits who would like to know.


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