Associate Bonus Watch 2010, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis & Bockius

This week brought annual reviews and individual bonus news for associates at Morgan Lewis & Bockius. Today (Friday) is payday, so everyone at MLB should know their bonus by now (or fairly soon).

Back in November, firm chairman Francis M. Milone stated that 2010 bonuses would be “substantially larger” than last year. So that set expectations fairly high.

Did the MLB bonuses live up to the hype?

Like a growing number of firms, Morgan Lewis pays individualized bonuses, so we unfortunately can’t just give you a neat table. Feel free to use this post as an open thread for MLB bonuses — you can compare amounts anonymously, in the comments.

Here are some data points we’ve obtained from a few Morgan Lewis sources:

  • a second-year received approximately $20K (Cravath scale: $10k)
  • another second-year received between $20K and $25K (Cravath scale: $10k)
  • a third-year received approximately $30K (Cravath scale: $15k)
  • a fourth-year received 2010 bonuses totaling over $40K (Cravath scale: $20k)

One Morgan Lewis source summarized word on the street as follows: “The consistent thing I have heard from those that have been reviewed is that their bonus was double the Cravath level.” The data points provided above support this assessment.

But is the Cravath scale still the lodestar for Biglaw bonuses?

Last week, Sullivan & Cromwell announced generous springtime bonuses, which could be viewed as essentially “supplemental” bonuses for 2010 (since S&C will presumably announce and pay 2011 bonuses near the end of the year). The S&C spring bonuses were matched in short order by Simpson Thacher and Cleary Gottlieb.

Fran Milone & Co. probably budgeted for bonuses that would beat Cravath, thinking that such bonuses would make everyone more than happy. But “beating Cravath” might not be the accomplishment that it once was.

Earlier: Morgan Lewis: Anticipates Large Bonus Pool and Not Moving Towards Merit-Based Compensation

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