Associate Bonus Watch 2010

Associate Bonus Watch: Cahill Gordon DESTROYS the Cravath Bonus

Hey now, this is just coming into our tips box, but we’ve now got two sources reporting that Cahill Gordon will be giving between $15,000 and $20,000 in bonuses to all associate classes this month.

And then giving bonuses according to the standard 2010 Cravath scale in January — “at least” the Cravath scale, according to our tipsters.

UPDATE: We’re up to more sources than I can count. This is solid; Cahill is blowing up the bonus market.

So, some Cahill Gordon associates are going to take home total bonus money that’s $20,000 $35,000 (see the UPDATES after the jump) more than Cravath associates and associates at firms that blindly followed Cravath.

Cahill Gordon, the new definition of competitive market salary in New York City!

But wait, there’s more. Because of the mid-year bonuses that Cahill associates already received, they’re actually making even more money than most of their Biglaw peers (there are UPDATES after the jump)…

Regular readers of Above the Law were already on notice that this could happen. Last week we reported that Cahill might break the Cravath bonus market. Our sources told us that Cahill had a very strong year and was prepared to offer a multiplier of the Cravath bonus, over two payments. Now it looks like those sources were correct.

After we published last week’s Cahill post, a number of people commented and emailed saying that Cahill also paid a bonus to its associates sometime over the summer, of about $10K. So if you add that together with today’s bonus news, that’s as much as $30K more than the Cravath scale.

UPDATE: The Cahill mid-year bonuses ranged from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on seniority. See our prior post.

To put that in some context, remember that the very top of the Cravath scale is $35,000 for the most senior associates (click here to see the full Cravath scale). And Cahill will be playing the Cravath bonus on top of the numbers being bandied about today.

So let’s say you’re in the class of 2007 at Cahill. You got a $10,000 bonus this summer, and another $20,000 announced today. After Cahill makes the $15,000 Cravath payment in January, you’ll take home $45,000 in total bonus cash. That’s $30,000 more than a class of 2007 member at Cravath — and $10,000 more than a person who’s at Cravath in the class of 2003!


It was one thing when Skadden doubled the Cravath bonus two years ago while Cravath led the rest of the market into the cheap zone. But now Cahill is out-compensating Cravath associates? That’s got to be embarrassing for CSM.

And enriching for Cahill associates. Congratulations guys. The firm had a good year, and it looks like partners were happy to spread the wealth around.

UPDATE (5:41 PM): Multiple sources are now confirming that at the top end of the scale, for people in the class of 2004 and more senior, the maximum bonus from today’s announcement will be $25,000 (as opposed to $20,000). That’s still in addition to (1) the bonus people got over the summer and (2) the Cravath-scale bonus they’ll get in January. So the most senior Cahill associates should end up with at least an extra $35,000 in bonuses — i.e., double the Cravath scale.

Honestly, has there been this kind of unmitigated good news about associate compensation since Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008? Does anybody else feel like cranking up some tunes and singing?

It ain’t much I’m asking if you want the truth
Here’s to the future, for the dreams of youth
I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want It now

Earlier: Associate Bonus Speculation: Will Cahill Double the Market In Secret?
Associate Bonus Watch: Cahill Gordon Gives Out Mid-Year Bonuses
Associate Bonus Watch 2010

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