Associate Bonus Watch 2010, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Goodwin Procter’s ‘Special’ Bonuses

The law firm of Cromwell & Goodwin might be fake, but the law firm of Goodwin Procter is very real. As is the news of spring bonuses at the firm.

Whoops, sorry — make that “special bonuses.” That’s the terminology used by Goodwin Procter to refer to the supplemental payments.

Let’s look at the memo to see why….

You can check out the full memo — from dorky-cute partner Scott Webster (is that a bowtie?), chair of the attorney review committee (ARC) — below. The bonuses follow the Cravath spring bonus scale.

They’re not being paid out until June 25, so it makes sense to call them “special bonuses” rather than “spring bonuses.” Announcing “summer bonuses” just calls attention to the late payment (relative to most other firms, which are paying at the end of April).

One Goodwin tipster was less-than-thrilled by the eligibility requirements:

Although they are emphasizing the “firm’s commitment to providing competitive compensation,” I note that they are tying the 1950 hours requirement to a new window (May 2010 through end of this month), which means that many of us will be struggling to meet the requirement and now have less than a month to do so. Not cool, and they no doubt did this in order to lower the total number of bonus-eligible associates. Why couldn’t they just tie this to the FY2010 numbers, like most of their “peer” firms did?

Well, it’s really not surprising, given their insincere 2010 bonus memo, which claimed to be paying market scale bonuses but failed to mention that more than half of the associates who met their hours still did not get their full class bonus.

These are fair points, which a second source echoed:

Seems to me like many associates will miss out on this bonus because of the billing requirement and the general slowness of the market during the past year. But overall I’m happy with it, and I understand Goodwin’s objective in limiting the reward to those who produced.

It would be interesting to know the % of associates who made the cut… but I guess that would be asking for a bit too much
transparency (from the firm’s perspective).

Let’s look on the bright side: at least Goodwin Procter is paying spring (or special) bonuses, unlike many other major firms. The economic recovery is still fragile and unemployment remains high, but law firms are doling out midyear bounty like it’s 2006. This is something to be celebrated, even if the rewards are not universally distributed.

Many of the top firms with major presences in Boston have announced special bonuses of some sort or another — e.g., Ropes & Gray, WilmerHale, Bingham McCutchen, and now Goodwin Procter. Which firm might be next to join the club?

Earlier: Springtime Bonus Watch 2011

GOODWIN PROCTER — MEMORANDUM — SPECIAL BONUSES

On behalf of the partners, I would like to thank you for your ongoing
efforts on behalf of our clients and your many contributions to the
firm. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, we have continued to
make progress in the first half of FY 2011, despite the continuing
challenges presented by the worldwide economy.

I am very pleased to announce that, in keeping with the firm’s
commitment to providing competitive compensation, special one-time
bonuses will be paid this year to eligible associates and professional
track attorneys. Associates who joined the firm before January 1,
2011 and who meet the 1,950 hour threshold during the period from May
1, 2010 through April 30, 2011, through billable work, pro bono work
(up to 150 hours) and legal advice to the firm, will receive the
special bonus.

Special bonuses will be paid on June 25 and will be based on the class
scale listed below. Special bonuses for professional track attorneys
will be individually communicated. As in the past, bonuses will be
pro-rated for leaves of absence and part-time schedules during the
period from May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011. Special bonuses for
members of the Class of 2010 will not be pro-rated.

All eligible associates will receive the special one-time award listed below.

2011 Special Bonus Scale

Class Special Bonus

2010 $2,500

2009 $7,500

2008 $10,000

2007 $15,000

2006+ $20,000

Our normal year-end bonuses will continue to be individually
determined as part of our annual performance review process, based on
factors including legal excellence, efficiency and overall
productivity, commitment to professional development and investment
time, as well as billable work, pro bono work (up to 150 hours) and
legal advice to the firm.

Again, thank you for your hard work and many contributions to the firm.

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