Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Biglaw, Bonuses, Kasowitz Benson, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Kasowitz Rewards Superior Legal Minds

The pace of announcements may have slowed down a bit, but make no mistake: we’re still in associate bonus season. If you have bonus news that we haven’t covered, even announcements dating back to last month, please email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Bonus Memo”). We’re trying to keep as accurate a record as we can of Biglaw bonuses, but we can’t do it without your help. Please don’t assume that someone else will send in the memo; that’s not always the case.

Now, on to today’s bonus news, which comes to us from Kasowitz Benson. The litigation powerhouse, which describes itself as “a national law firm primarily focusing on complex and sophisticated commercial litigation, numbering 375 lawyers,” announced its bonuses last Thursday, January 5.

So how much is Uncle Marc paying to the superior legal minds who work for him?

UPDATE (3:20 PM): Speaking of Gregory Berry, Justice Eileen Bransten of New York State Supreme Court just dismissed Berry’s $77 million lawsuit against Kasowitz.

UPDATE (1/10/12): Read all about the dismissal here.

The Kasowitz bonus memo, reprinted in full on the next page, announces bonuses for New York associates and special counsel that are “up to” the Cravath scale. The memo notes that the numbers on the scale “are benchmark amounts which are subject to adjustment to reflect individual performance and hours worked.” Individual bonus news will be communicated during the week of January 23.

What to make of this news? In light of how the firm has been thriving and expanding recently, some might find the bonuses a little disappointing. First, as in past years, the bonuses are in amounts “up to” the Cravath scale. Translation: some associates will get less than the Cravath scale, and even superstars and high billers can earn no more than the Cravath scale.

Second, there’s no mention of spring bonuses. In fairness to Kasowitz, most other firms’ memos don’t mention spring bonuses. But many of these firms did in fact pay spring bonuses in 2011, while Kasowitz did not. The firm’s failure to pay spring bonuses last year generated some discontent among the ranks and may have contributed to attrition, especially since a fair number of KBTF associates came over from elite, spring-bonus-paying firms.

But hey, as those of us with New Year’s resolutions recognize, the start of a new year represents a chance to do better. Perhaps Kasowitz Benson will turn over a new leaf and pay spring bonuses in 2012 (if, as many expect, spring bonuses are once again awarded by the top firms).

If you like, you can check out the 2011 Kasowitz bonus memo on the next page (or click here).

P.S. Going through our Kasowitz archives, it seems that we might have missed KB’s 2010 bonus announcement. If you have either the memo or the details, we’d appreciate it if you’d send our way (just for completeness; we’ll update this post with it). Thanks.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Kasowitz Benson

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