Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Weiss Matches Cravath

When it comes to its associates, Paul Weiss has a few “crazy ones.” But when it comes to its associate bonuses, the firm is extremely rational.

Last night, around the time the Skadden bonuses came in, Paul Weiss also announced its 2012 bonus scale. Just as it did last year, the firm matched Cravath. PW will pay bonuses on December 21, the same date as Cravath and Skadden.

Was there ever any doubt that Paul Weiss would match?

Not really. While matching the generous Cravath bonuses might be painful for some firms, Paul Weiss is not among them, assuming 2012 ends up looking like 2011.

Last year, Paul Weiss essentially tied Cravath in profits per partner. According to Am Law, Paul Weiss had PPP of $3.095 million, while Cravath had PPP of $3.1 million. The only firms that were more profitable were Wachtell Lipton, Quinn Emanuel, and Sullivan & Cromwell.

At the same time, Paul Weiss historically has followed rather than led when it comes to associate compensation. So even though it can afford to match Cravath without difficulty, it’s not a firm one would expect to beat Cravath.

Last night’s bonus news came via email from the chair of Paul Weiss, Brad Karp. You can check out the Paul Weiss bonus memo on the next page. It’s not very exciting, and it’s worded almost identically to last year’s memo, but Karp didn’t have much to work with. As the old saying goes, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken feathers.

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