There’s lots of good news these days over at Dechert. For example, as we mentioned last week, the firm is launching a new Los Angeles office, built around a group of lateral partners lured over from Orrick.

This morning brings good news for Dechert associates and counsel as well. The firm just announced Cravath-level spring bonuses, to be paid to qualifying associates. We discuss the qualifications and reprint the full memo below.

Although Dechert is now a major international firm, it’s still associated in many people’s minds with Philadelphia, where it got its start. Does Dechert’s spring bonus announcement place pressure on firms that are headquarted in Philly or have significant presences in the City of Brotherly Love?

By the way, it appears that we never reported on Dechert’s 2010 year-end bonuses, which were announced in early February 2011. We discuss them as well, after the jump.

The spring bonus memo of Dechert appears below. The numbers are on the Cravath scale, and the bonuses will be paid in the first May paycheck. Here’s the key language as to eligibility:

We are pleased to announce that we will be paying supplemental bonuses to all US associates and Counsel who received a full scale bonus or greater in 2010 and whose annualized productivity was equal or greater to 1900 billable, pro-bono and other firm-credited hours during 2010.

This seems reasonable enough.

As for Dechert’s 2010 year-end bonus, the firm employed a “reasonably busy” standard that is described in detail in the memo (also reprinted below). One happy Dechert associate offered this analysis (note that it was sent our way before this morning’s spring bonus announcement):

I never saw Dechert’s bonus memo posted so thought I would pass it along to help complete the ATL collection. Bonuses were announced on February 2. As most of us expected, the firm matched the market for year-end bonuses, with some associates receiving amounts “above the grid” for high performance. I billed 2200+ hours and was paid [over 50%] above the “standard” bonus for my class.

No word or even rumors regarding spring bonuses, but my year-end bonus ended up being only slightly less than S&C’s combined year-end + spring bonus scales. Still, it would be nice if the firm paid a spring bonus as I realize that I may not be as well-compensated next year. Might even make it easier to hang up on the headhunters that are calling with openings at bigger-bonus firms.

It looks like this tipster got his or her wish. Congrats to the Dechert folks on their spring bonuses.

DECHERT — MEMORANDUM — SPRING BONUSES

From: Daniel O’Donnell
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 9:47 AM
Subject: Spring Bonuses

MESSAGE FROM BARTON WINOKUR and DANIEL O’DONNELL

We are pleased to announce that we will be paying supplemental bonuses to all US associates and Counsel who received a full scale bonus or greater in 2010 and whose annualized productivity was equal or greater to 1900 billable, pro-bono and other firm-credited hours during 2010. Associates in the Class of 2010 will be paid a supplemental bonus, without regard to hours. These bonuses will be paid in accordance with the following schedule:

Class of 2010: $2500
Class of 2009: $7500
Class of 2008: $10000
Class of 2007: $15000
Class of 2006 and higher: $20000

The supplemental bonuses will be pro-rated on the same bases as they were for the calendar year bonuses and will be paid with the first salary check in May. We thank all of our associates for their continued commitment and effort on behalf of the firm’s clients.

G. Daniel O’Donnell
Dechert LLP

DECHERT — MEMORANDUM — 2010 YEAR-END BONUSES

From: Barton Winokur
Date: February 2, 2011
Subject: 2010 US Associate Bonuses

We are pleased to announce our U.S. associate bonuses for 2010. Bonuses will be paid in February to all U.S. associates who were reasonably busy during 2010 and who were evaluated as performing in the manner we expect of lawyers at their level and progressing in accordance with the firm’s expectations, based on the following scale:

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 and more senior: $35,000

In applying a “reasonably busy” standard, we emphasize again that we do not want our associates working to a specific number of hours. Accordingly, we did not award bonuses based on a sharp cut-off of a particular number of hours. We also are aware that hours are not the only way to measure intensity of effort, quality of performance, and level of responsibility. Having said this, we believe that an associate who is reasonably busy would normally be performing legal work for clients, both billable and pro bono, in the range of 1,950 annualized hours. In addition, we expect all of our attorneys to contribute meaningfully to the firm on important projects such as marketing initiatives, recruiting, writing articles, and training. Thus, in determining bonuses, we spent a considerable amount of time reviewing not only how much time each associate recorded, but also how each spent his or her time, taking into consideration such factors as the balance among billable, pro bono and firm-related hours, firm citizenship, and whether the associate complied with the firm’s policies and procedures, including timely recording of time and the firm’s pro bono requirements.

In determining whether and to what extent the associate was “performing in the manner we expect of lawyers at their level and progressing in accordance with the firm’s expectations,” we considered not only individual and overall ratings, but also how senior the associate is relative to his or her level.

As a result of this merit-driven review, we awarded full class bonuses to almost every associate who was reasonably busy, including many who had well below 1,950 billable and pro bono hours. Moreover, we are paying bonuses substantially above the grid – and, in a number of instances, up to twice the grid – to a significant number of associates. Finally, as we did last year, we have expanded the bonus pool to provide partial bonuses to many associates who fell short of the reasonably busy standard, but whose overall contributions, we felt, merited some recognition.

As in the past, we pro-rated bonuses for associates who did not work a full year or did not work full-time and we made relatively small deductions for repeated late time entries and for failure to meet pro bono requirements. These deductions were made from only a small number of bonuses.

We are immensely proud of our associates and are happy to show them our appreciation for their hard work and high performance with our bonus program. Associates who are receiving bonuses will be informed of the amount by the end of this week. Questions should be directed to practice group leaders, Craig Godshall or Molly Peckman.

Barton J. Winokur
Dechert LLP


comments sponsored by

43 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments