Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money, Pro Bono

Associate Bonus Watch: Jenner & Block

In late February, bonuses were announced at Jenner & Block. The firm has an individualized bonus system, so there’s no table to pass along.

And it’s harder to assess associate reactions to bonuses in a non-lockstep system. But we’ll give it a shot, and we’ll also share with you some information provided by the firm itself….

Sources told us two things that should shock no one. First, the Jenner bonuses seemed to roughly follow the Cravath scale (or at least use it as a point of reference). Second, high-billing associates received more-generous bonuses, but not monumentally so (i.e., nothing that would blow Cravath out of the water).

Because of conflicting reports among our tipsters on various bonus-related issues, we reached out to Jenner (which has provided us with information in the past about its bonuses; if you’re at a firm and would like to share bonus info with us, please feel free to email us or to text us). Jenner issued a statement from managing partner Susan C. Levy that addressed several of our questions.

We asked about the relationship between bonuses and billable hours. Levy explained:

The Firm changed its policy in 2011 and set a target for associates of 2100 hours, which includes billable, pro bono and firm approved hours. Associates do not need to hit 2000 billable hours to be eligible for a bonus…. [T]here are numerous examples of associates who received bonuses with less than 2000 billable hours.

We discussed Jenner’s generous change to its billable policy back in this post.

We asked about bonus amounts. Levy stated:

We gave a range of bonuses — some above the Cravath scale and some below it. We are not lockstep and we consider a wide variety of factors (quality of performance, contributions to the firm, number of billable hours, pro bono) in determining the size of a bonus.

We inquired about seniority-based, class-year pay raises (based on some reports of associates not seeing their base salaries increased). From Levy’s statement:

Raises were market in each of our offices. In Chicago, raises are not lockstep. We consider all factors in giving raises including quality of performance, contributions to the firm, number of billable hours, and pro bono.

Finally, we asked about pro bono — an area where Jenner has historically excelled, and a subject that we understand was touted in the firm’s internal bonus announcement. Susan Levy explained that Jenner’s pro bono commitment “is long-standing, deep and broad,” and the firm’s pro bono program “is regularly ranked highly by the American Lawyer and other legal publications” (although, as Levy noted, “we do pro bono because we believe in it, not to be ranked”).

So that’s the skinny on bonuses at Jenner. If you’d like to provide more detail about the Jenner bonuses, please do so in the comments. If you have information about bonuses at another firm that we have not yet covered, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

Earlier: And the Associates Rejoiced: Now Almost Everything Is Billable at Jenner & Block
Jenner & Block: Salaries and Bonuses Come in Low

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