Associate Bonus Watch 2011, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money, Partner Issues, Partner Profits

Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Hastings

In terms of firm finances, Paul Hastings had a perfectly decent 2011. Revenue and profits were fairly stable, according to Am Law Daily. Gross revenue fell by 2 percent to $884 million, and profits per partner fell by 1.3 percent to about $1.97 million. On the brighter side, revenue per lawyer surpassed the $1 million mark for the first time, hitting $1.01 million.

So how are those revenue-generating worker bees being compensated? Bonuses are out at Paul Hastings. How are PH associates reacting?

Last year, Paul Hastings consolidated its year-end bonus news and its spring bonus news into one big omnibus announcement. This year, we don’t have any spring bonus news yet — no, not even at Cravath — so we’ll have to stick to the plain old bonus news.

The Paul Hastings bonus memo went out on February 28, around the time that year-end reviews started up. It’s not terribly different from last year’s memo. One source summarizes:

Nothing surprising. It’s just S&C scale with no mention of spring bonuses.

Not everyone gets the S&C scale, though; remember that Paul Hastings isn’t a straight lockstep firm. From the memo:

This year, approximately 70 percent of the associates received a bonus. As always, bonus levels were increased for associates who distinguished themselves by consistently demonstrating exceptional performance that surpassed the Firm’s high standards. We note that performance expectations are steep and receipt of a bonus that exceeds the standard bonus is an exception. Approximately 28 percent of all bonus recipients distinguished themselves and were awarded bonuses at a level that exceeds the standard bonus level. Additionally, as has occurred in past years, discretionary bonuses were awarded on a limited basis to certain associates who demonstrated excellence and made significant contributions but fell short of the Firm’s hours threshold.

Back to our somewhat sour source:

I especially enjoyed the comment that we help make Paul Hastings “one of the world’s leading law firms.” I guess “leading” means doing what everyone else did three months after they did it?

Now I wait for my unreasonably cheap bonus and hope S&C does the right thing….

Not everyone we heard from had such a dour outlook. From a different tipster, who was much happier:

Firm financial numbers (revenues and PPP) from last year were basically flat (although RPL broke beyond $1M for the first time ever), so similar bonus payouts would seem logical….

Be kind to our firm in your well-read pages — as law firms go, I still think this is a pretty spectacular place to be. I still haven’t met any peers at other firms at my level who have been able to get the kind of hands-on, substantive, meaningful experience I’ve come to take for granted.

That’s an important reminder: when it comes to working in Biglaw, it isn’t all about the benjamins. The types of matters you work on, the people you work with, and the experiences you get are all critical. To the extent that we focus on compensation here at Above the Law, it’s largely because compensation is more easily quantified and compared across firms than other aspects of law firm life.

Of course, we welcome feedback on the non-monetary aspects of your law firm. If you haven’t done so already, please fill out our anonymous firm insider survey.

If you’re interested, you can check out the complete Paul Hastings bonus memo on the next page.

(hidden for your protection)

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