Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Clifford Chance and Covington Play the Match Game


Enough with all this sadness about these pathetically low bonuses that Cravath has engineered for everybody. Let’s try to be positive. People are getting money. Yay money. Who can be sad when they are getting more money?

In fact, I have a great idea: instead of just writing checks that reflect the general New York bonus scale, Clifford Chance and Covington & Burling should pay the bonuses out in single dollar bills. The partners should sneak into each associate’s office at night and just spread the money around. If you share an office, well, the early bird gets the worm.

See, then it’s fun. It’s a like a game. And it distracts the mind from how ridiculous it is to give the same bonus from 2010 in 2011….

Let’s start with Clifford Chance: the firm comes first alphabetically, and it’s following the Sullivan & Cromwell scale, with higher payouts for more senior associates. Here’s the memo from Craig Medwick, the regional managing partner for the American wing of Clifford Chance.

Come on, like it wouldn’t be fun to be in the class of 2007 and find 20,000 dollar bills strewn across your office. Like, at first it would be annoying and overwhelming. And by the end it would be super annoying. But in the middle, it would be mad fun, just crawling around and collecting all of your crisp dollar bills.

Covington is also matching the market. But Covington is going with the lower Cravath scale that doesn’t include the S&C extra payout to very senior associates. Here’s the Covington & Burling bonus memo:

The Management Committee has approved the following maximum bonus amounts for New York associates for 2011:

Class of 2010 — $7,500
Class of 2009 — $10,000
Class of 2008 — $15,000
Class of 2007 — $20,000
Class of 2006 — $25,000
Class of 2005 — $30,000
Class of 2004 and above — $37,500

Associates must have been employed at the firm on or before September 1, 2011 to be eligible for a bonus. We expect that these bonuses will be paid in January. We would like to thank you for your contribution and dedication to the Firm and its clients during this past year, and we extend our best wishes for a Happy New Year.

You know, if we’re not going to get a firm paying the super-fun, small-bills bonus, maybe we could get a firm to go in a meaner direction. What if you had a bonus memo that read: “Here, you whiny, petulant associates. Here’s your cut of OUR profits. Believe us, it’s as LITTLE AS WE COULD GIVE YOU. You don’t like it? The door’s right there. World needs plenty of bartenders!”

I mean, if firms are going to low ball the numbers like this, they might as well be honest about it. Screw the platitudes. They should just go full partner on people.

Either way, enjoy your bonuses. Hopefully spring is coming.

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of bonuses

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