Biglaw, Bonuses

Cravath: Your Move On Spring Bonuses

If you consider Sullivan & Cromwell’s Spring Tip as if it were a real tip on a meal that cost $160,000, S&C tipped at .6%. Not 6%, but .6%.

Cravath Swaine & Moore should be able to match that if every partner at the firm went home and shook the loose change out of their couches.

So, I’m not even going to ask if they’ll match. That’s a pathetic question. I’m going to ask if Cravath will beat the S&C spring bonus.

I mean, it’s not hard. S&C has set the bar so low that Cravath can crawl over it. For the love of God, I’ll get a better “spring bonus” from Breaking Media than S&C associates are getting.

If Cravath moves, we can assume S&C will follow….

Last year, CSM overtopped the S&C spring bonus for mid-levels and senior associates. And the rest of Biglaw followed. We thought that S&C never matched the higher Cravath scale, but a tipster tells us that S&C did eventually make their associates whole:

They paid out the Cravath scale but never announced it. I’m class of 2006. I got $20k. So did everyone my year.

So perhaps S&C didn’t want to look like it was being pushed around by Cravath, but it still needed to make the higher payment. Remember, last year spring bonuses played out like retention bonuses. Stay for the summer, get more money.

The problem this year is that the spring bonuses are so low that only a pathetic fool would be influenced to stay by the paltry figures. Seriously, what kind of loser wants to leave their firm job, but won’t for the sake of an extra $2,500? If you needed the extra money that badly, you could just mow some lawns over the summer to make up the difference. And I highly doubt there’s a talented law student out there who is going to choose S&C over some other shop for the chance to get an extra thousand bucks as a first year.

I don’t know how much this bonus cost S&C partners, but they couldn’t have been trying to impress anybody with their generosity. Here’s one tipster’s wholly unsubstantiated guess:

These are the announced bonuses:

Class of 2011 — $1,000
Class of 2010 — $1,000
Class of 2009 — $2,500
Class of 2008 — $2,500
Class of 2007 — $2,500
Class of 2006 — $5,000

Just eyeballing it, and given that the composition of the associates skews younger, lets assume that the average bonus was $2500. According to S&C’s website, there are 469 associates at the firm. That’s a total of $1,172,500.

There are 174 partners so the cost, per partner, to double those bonuses would be $6,738. If you look at total partner compensation (PPP was $3.25mm in 2011), they take home, as a group, something like 6 times more than all of the associates combined.

That’s messed up.

Sure, why not.

Now, if Cravath partners are just as cheap as S&C partners, and they’re not going to cough up the couple of thousand dollars a piece to double S&C’s spring bonuses, why would they bother to pay anything extra at all? Why match? Nobody’s gonna leave Cravath because of an extra thousand dollars.

If you’re going to be greedy, just go on and own it. Fire up some Queen, open the doors to your corner office, and just start belting, “I want it all.” What’s going to happen — some associate who you clearly don’t really care about is going to shoot you a nasty look? What do you care? You’re a partner at Cravath Swaine & Moore. You’ve made it, now you get to keep it.

What do you think will happen? Take our poll on the next page….

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