Associate Bonus Watch 2010, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Spring Bonuses At Gibson Dunn? Are They Happening? Only In New York? Is This Some Kind of Joke?

Well, Gibson Dunn, it’s come to this. You’ve made your associates so desperate and confused that they don’t know where the sun even rises anymore.

They want a spring bonus. They’ve read about spring bonuses at Latham and O’Melveny and think that they should be making as much as their colleagues at peer firms. Gibson Dunn may not like it, but their associates can read. They can read not just about the bonuses at peer firms, they can also read about Gibson Dunn’s record-setting profits for 2010.

And you know how it goes: “Record setting profits with below market bonuses makes Jack a dull boy.”

Well, now news is trickling out that Gibson will finally be getting into the spring bonus market. Except even if that’s true, it could be that GDC associates in California are left out in the cold. Some of our tipsters report that only New York associates will get a spring bonus.

I’ll pause so LAPD can go put on their riot gear…

Most of the information we’ve heard suggests that Gibson Dunn announced it would be paying a Cravath-level spring bonus to New York associates on April 29th. The announcement was not made via email, but during a New York associates’ meeting.

Some tipsters claim that the New York “announcement” was even more informal than that. They claim that the New York office managing partner told New Yorkers in passing that they’d be getting a spring bonus.

What we’re not hearing is anybody in the California offices of Gibson saying they’ve been told they are getting a spring bonus. We haven’t heard anybody at Gibson D.C. talking about a spring bonus. In fact, we’ve heard that one of the reasons the New York announcement is so hush-hush is specifically because GDC doesn’t intend to pay a spring bonus to people outside of New York.

Of course, just because GDC hasn’t said anything to California associates doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Clearly, Gibson was hoping to get through this whole bonus season without being forced into spring bonuses, but market forces are pushing against them. Now that other major firms based in California have paid spring bonuses to their California associates, it could be that Gibson is in the process of changing plans and doing what is necessary to match the market for total compensation.

But perhaps you don’t make record profits without occasionally screwing over your own employees. Gibson partners made a ton of money last year. They’d be remiss if they didn’t at least try to keep every last cent of it.

GDC associates, keep us posted as to how this plays out. There are a lot of people looking at how Gibson shares its significant profits.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bonuses

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