Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Billable Hours, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Rewards Big Billers

Now that Sullivan & Cromwell has weighed in on bonuses, there’s not much suspense left regarding associate bonuses at the major New York lockstep firms. Attention will now turn to top firms with individualized bonuses, like Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins.

Most of the big New York-based firms have matched the Cravath scale. But at least one — besides Boies Schiller, home of the whopper (aka a $250,000 bonus) — is going above and beyond Cravath.

At Kaye Scholer, high billers get something extra stuffed in their stockings. How much are we talking about?

We haven’t seen the Kaye Scholer bonus memo yet, but here’s a report from Am Law Daily:

Associates who pass the 2,200-hour threshold will receive added payments starting at $10,000 (for first-years) and topping out at $20,000 (for eighth years and those with more seniority) that will be tacked on to the standard $10,000–$60,000 bonus scale set by Cravath. High-billing third-year associates, for instance, will receive $35,000 apiece, compared to the so-called Cravath scale’s $20,000, while fifth-years will get $49,000 each rather than $34,000.

In a statement, Kaye Scholer managing partner Michael Solow explained why the New York–based firm is employing a two-tiered bonus system for the third consecutive year.

“A law firm is only as strong as its people, and bonuses are designed to recognize those who not only meet, but regularly exceed expectations,” Solow said. “Every year there are some associates whose performance is truly outstanding, sacrificing from their personal lives to serve Kaye Scholer and our clients. We therefore only think it appropriate that those associates deserve a little extra at bonus time.”

One could argue about whether the extra money is worth the extra billable hours, especially since 2200 hours is a lot of hours. At the same time, many associates don’t have great control over their hours (which is one of the toughest parts about toiling in Biglaw). So if you have to work a ton of hours, due to deals or trials or whatnot, you might as well get paid for it, right?

Congratulations to the Kaye Scholer associates, especially the high-billing ones, on the nice bonuses.

(If you have a copy of the Kaye Scholer bonus memo, feel free to shoot us a copy. We’ll update this post to add the memo if we receive it. Thanks.)

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Tries to Confuse By Matching Cravath’s Year-End Bonus and Last Year’s Spring Bonus

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