Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Bonuses, Killing Lockstep, Money, Partner Issues

Associate Bonus Watch: Baker Botts Bounty

We’re getting back into the Biglaw bonus beat here at Above the Law. Yesterday, for example, we covered Winston & Strawn’s bonus news.

Today we’ll take a look at bonuses over at Baker Botts. Is it true that everything is bigger in Texas?

It’s hard to generalize about the Baker bonuses, since the firm isn’t lockstep. As a tipster explained:

So over here at Baker Botts they’re finally sending out bonus memos. And these are bonuses for our work in 2011! Anyway, better late than never…

Everyone gets an individualized memo. Bonuses are based on hours + performance, whatever that means. I think it really just comes down to hours.

This source, who billed over 2000 hours, was pleased with his or her bonus, and mentioned that other colleagues are happy as well. Depending on your seniority and your bonus amount, you can earn more at Baker than at Cravath and Cravath followers (assuming no spring bonuses).

Take, for example, a second-year associate. Under Baker’s somewhat complicated compensation system, a second-year associate — in Baker parlance, a “Level 2″ associate — earns a base salary of $180K in the coastal offices (New York, D.C., and Palo Alto). This is higher than the standard New York scale, which calls for $170K. This Baker Level 2 associate is then eligible for a maximum bonus of $10K, which would result in total compensation of $190K for a second-year associate. On the standard New York scale, the second-year ends up with total compensation of $180K ($170K base + $10K bonus), assuming no spring bonuses.

What about Baker associates in Texas? That second-year associate has a lower base salary in Texas, specifically, $170K, but has a bonus cap that’s twice as high. If all goes well, that second-year in Texas can also make $190K in total compensation.

This isn’t the case, though, for all class years. And it also depends on whether or not the associate gets promoted to the next level in a timely fashion. Some will get promoted in a delayed fashion, and some will get promoted early. That’s the promise — and the peril — of a non-lockstep comp system.

P.S. In other Baker Botts news, (1) the firm recently named a new managing partner, Andrew Baker; and (2) we hear that partner Mark Glasser’s leaving Baker for the new Sidley office didn’t go over so well, culminating in an awkward incident. We’re looking for more details; if you know what we’re referring to and can help us out, please email us, subject line “Baker Botts Drama,” or text us, at 646-820-8477 (646-820-TIPS).

Earlier: Baker Botts Releases New Merit-Based Compensation Levels

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