Biglaw, Bonuses, john quinn, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Summer Fun at Quinn Emanuel
(And news from Cahill Gordon too.)

CHECK YOU PAYCHECK — at least if you work at Quinn Emanuel. As promised, the thriving litigation firm paid out supplemental bonuses in late June.

The mere fact that it’s paying mid-year bonuses puts Quinn in the top tier of Biglaw. How many other major firms are paying such bonuses this year? The only other one that springs to mind for me is Sullivan & Cromwell (and this year’s S&C spring bonuses were nothing to write home about; but hey, at least S&C paid something).

(Perhaps Cahill Gordon is paying mid-year bonuses? They’ve paid June bonuses in the past.)

UPDATE (11:01 AM): We’re just now receiving word of the Cahill summer bonuses. We’ll be covering them in more detail in a forthcoming post. If you have info or opinions to share — by the way, we don’t have the full scale yet — please email us or text us (646-820-8477 / 646-820-TIPS).

So how much are we talking about for the Quinn summer bonuses? And how are QE associates reacting to the news?

In terms of amount, the Quinn Emanuel summer bonuses are consistent with what founding partner John Quinn previously announced. From his May email:

I have received a query about the size of the June bonus. Knowing the size will help with planning mortgage payments and the like, it is said. As I said before, the amount will vary primarily with seniority level and hours. The range will be between $2k at the low end to $30k at the high. The distribution in between will be not unlike the year-end bonus. I hope this is of some help. Thanks again for all your good work.

The readers we’ve heard from are reporting amounts consistent with Quinn’s message. “We got pretty decent amounts,” one QE tipster told us. “A bunch of folks got between $15K and $30K. So compared to the rest of Biglaw, we did well this spring.”

“Not as good as last year,” said a second source, “but better than most every other firm.”

That’s for sure. The S&C spring bonuses started at $1,000 and topped out at $5,000, as we reported previously, so the Quinn bonuses are several times larger. (If you’re at S&C and got more than $5K, please let us know.)

Of course, associates at law firms are tough to please when it comes to compensation. For example, some Quinn associates complain that even though Quinn profits per partner are nipping at Wachtell Lipton’s heels — $4.16 million for Quinn, compared to $4.46 million for Wachtell — QE associates still earn much less than their WLRK counterparts, even taking into account the Quinn June bonuses.

“Given how much associates work and how much the firm makes, it could and should have been higher,” one of our Quinn sources said. “Morale will decrease until pay goes up or hours go down.”

But, all things considered, associates at Quinn still have it pretty good. At least their firm has mid-year bonuses (unlike, oh, some 90-plus Vault 100 / Am Law 100 law firms). And remember, Biglaw isn’t all about the pay. Litigators, for example, should think about the quality of their cases, and the level of responsibility they get on those matters. Quinn associates work on major cases — e.g., Megaupload — and get a fair amount of responsibility, fairly early in their careers.

One of our Quinn sources had an issue about the June bonuses relating not to amount, but to transparency. At the time the bonuses came out, this source wrote:

Paystubs showing amount are now being issued. The firm has not distributed a salary table like they do for the year-end bonus, so there is no clue on what the determinations were.

Perhaps we can help. If you’re at Quinn and would like to anonymously compare your bonuses, feel free to do so in the comments.

The Quinn bonuses have generated interest beyond the walls of QE. One of our readers requested coverage by emailing us as follows:

You posted here and here that Quinn would definitely be paying spring bonuses this year.

Well, where are they? Can we get a follow-up?

– Sighed: Not-a-quinn-associate-but-someone-who-wants-his-firm-to-have-a-target-to-beat

Aww, you think you’re getting a mid-year bonus? That’s cute.

Your spring bonus is on its way. The tooth fairy will leave it under your pillow.

P.S. Unless you’re at Cahill Gordon, in which case you’ll be getting real money. See supra — and please send us your tips on the Cahill payouts.

UPDATE (3:50 PM): Here’s our story about the Cahill summer bonuses.

Earlier: Confirmation That Quinn Emanuel’s Spring Bonuses Will Be Much Better Than Sullivan & Cromwell’s
Associate Bonus Watch: Quinn Emanuel Will Pay Spring Bonuses

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