[We were going to call this post something like “Associate Bonus Watch: Susman Godfrey Beats Cravath Too.” But then we felt bad for singling out Cravath for paying unsatisfying bonuses, when so many other Biglaw firms have followed suit. So we went with a tamer title instead.]
Just as it did last year, the powerhouse litigation boutique of Susman Godfrey announced associate bonuses that put the bonus scales of most other firms to shame. Happy Holidays, Susman Godfrey associates!
(By the way, Susman is a firm that celebrates the season in high style. The holiday party of its New York office, catered by acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud, is already legendary, even though it’s of fairly recent vintage.)
So, the Susman bonuses — what are we looking at here?
As reported by the Texas Lawyer, based on comments from founding partner Stephen Susman, this year the firm is paying associate bonuses ranging from $40,000 to $100,000. This scale compares quite favorably — to put it mildly — to the bonus scales of firms like Cravath and Sullivan & Cromwell, which start out at $7,500 and top out at $37,500 (for CSM) and $42,500 (for S&C).
As we observed last year, “[t]he bottom of the Susman scale [$40,000] is higher than the top of the Cravath scale [$37,500].” This means that the most-junior Susman associates are taking home larger bonuses than the most-senior Cravath associates.
Here at ATL, we’ve heard from individual Susman associates who are very happy with their 2011 year-end bonuses. They seem to be earning anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 more than their class-year counterparts at Cravath et al.
What is the Susman firm’s philosophy on compensation? It seems to be one of sharing the wealth with those who helped generate it. As Steve Susman told the Texas Lawyer, the firm had a strong year financially in 2011 and wanted bonuses to reflect that success. And this is not the first time that Susman has made great payouts:
The 90-lawyer firm is known for its big bonuses. The firm stunned the Texas legal market in 2000 when it gave its associates bonuses equal to their base salaries — bonuses ranging from $114,000 to $165,000. In 2010, Susman Godfrey associates received year-end bonuses ranging from $45,000 to more than $100,000. The firm also has offices in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle.
Susman Godfrey also has some new partner news:
[T]wo associates were up for partner, and both made it. The newly minted partners are Robert Safi and Chanler Langham, both of Houston. Susman says Safi and Langham received $110,000 bonuses, and other partnership-track associates received bonuses based on their seniority, quality of work and hours worked.
Congratulations to Safi and to Langham. As is typical of Susman Godfrey lawyers, both have top-shelf credentials, including federal clerkships. Safi graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and clerked for Judge Vaughn Walker (of Prop 8 fame). Langham graduated from Columbia Law School and clerked for Judge Vanessa Gilmore (a delicious — and self-professed — judicial diva).
And congratulations to the Susman Godfrey associates on their generous bonuses. Forty to one hundred grand sure stuffs a lot of stockings.