Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Skadden Matches Cravath

No surprises here: Skadden has matched the 2011 Cravath bonus scale. Given the sheer size of Skadden, in terms of attorney headcount, this announcement directly affects the pocketbooks of more lawyers than the Cravath news (although the indirect effects of Cravath as market leader are, of course, huge).

So we won’t have a repeat of 2008, when Skadden paid twice as much as Cravath (aka Half-Skadden). Firms are essentially recycling last year’s bonus schedules. Hence our snazzy “recycling money” image, which will be the logo for Associate Bonus Watch 2011.

Let’s look at the memo, along with reactions from SASMF associates….

As you may recall, Skadden sends out separate bonus memos for each class. Here is the wording of the short and sweet form memo, from executive partner Eric J. Friedman:

We are pleased to announce that we will be paying a discretionary bonus this year. The discretionary bonus is an indication of our appreciation for your hard work and dedication to the Firm and our clients.

Accordingly, associates in the class of ____ will be paid a year-end bonus of $____ on December 16, 2011*. As in the past, bonuses will be paid to associates in good standing who have been reasonably busy over the course of the year. Payment will only be made to associates employed by the Firm on December 16th.

Best wishes for the holiday season.

*If applicable, bonus amount will be prorated based on start dates and status changes.

We have received confirmation for the following classes and amounts, all of them consistent with the Cravath scale:

Class of 2010 — $7,500
Class of 2009 — $10,000
Class of 2007 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $30,000
Class of 2004 (and up) — $37,500

(We will update this list as we receive tips about individual classes, which you can send in by email or by text message — 646-820-8477.)

Some comments from Skadden associates:

“I haven’t really spoken to anyone about it, but I’m personally not particularly surprised.”

“Obviously not unexpected. Given that last year Skadden matched Cravath the morning after Cravath announced, there was some thought in the associate ranks that the extra delay meant Skadden might go over the top in an effort to cut off any spring bonus talk.”

Alas, that didn’t happen. But one Skadden source added that this news is viewed as being “without prejudice” to the possibility of 2012 spring bonuses.

Please let us know what you think of the Skadden and Cravath bonuses, in the comments or via our reader research poll (which you may see float across your screen from time to time). Thanks!

Earlier: Breaking: Cravath Bonuses Are Out; Welcome to the 2011 Bonus Season!
Associate Bonus Watch: Skadden Matches Cravath (2010)

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