Associate Bonus Watch 2010, Biglaw, Bonuses, Gay, Gay Marriage, Money, Perks / Fringe Benefits, Tax Law

Associate Bonus Watch: Linklaters Matches Cravath
(But at least it has the gay gross-up.)

Here’s some very belated bonus news. Earlier this month, the New York office of Linklaters announced bonuses that matched the Cravath scale.

As usual at Linklaters, there was no hours requirement. The news was communicated via individual memo.

A Cravath match, especially in a bonus season when some firms are paying significantly more, kinda sucks isn’t that exciting. A Cravath bonus won’t get a Linklaters associate a pad as palatial as that of Linklaters partner Michael Bassett. Heck, $35K — the top of the Cravath scale — probably won’t even cover the cost of Bassett’s wallpaper.

But we’ll point out two nice things about Linklaters, both relating to tax issues….

First, although bonuses are usually paid in January, Linklaters allowed associates to elect payment in December or in January, due to uncertainty at the time over tax rates. This uncertainty was subsequently dispelled — Linklaters announced its bonuses before the recent extension of the Bush tax cuts — but it was certainly a thoughtful touch.

Second, also related to tax considerations, Linklaters has the gay gross-up (and apparently has had it for a while now).

What’s the gay gross-up? As we’ve previously explained:

If you’re a gay employee and have a domestic partner who receives health benefits through your employer, you have to pay more in federal income tax — about $1,000 a year, on average. This is because federal law, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, the feds treat employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners as a form of taxable income (if the partner is not considered a dependent).

But some law firms are, to their credit, reimbursing gay employees for this tax liability. We recently reported on Morrison & Foerster, but there are others.

The New York Law Journal wrote about this issue and mentioned several law firms that now provide this perk. They include McDermott Will & Emery, Cadwalader, MoFo — and, yes, Linklaters. Interestingly enough, Linklaters offers this gross-up to “all of its employees in the United States, whether in a same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partnership.”

It seems that Linklaters, a member of the Magic Circle, can pull off the neat trick of making smiles appear on associates’ faces.

Firms Roll Out Perk to Employees in Same-Sex Domestic Partnerships [New York Law Journal]

Earlier: Biglaw Perk Watch: MoFo Takes a Stand for Fairness
Associate Bonus Watch 2010

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