Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Quinn Emanuel Cuts Extra Check For Top End Billers

Merry Christmas, Quinn Emanuel billers.

Yesterday, we talked about the Quinn Emanuel bonuses. Many associates were angry, especially those who had billed a lot of hours in 2012. For some of those top billers, their bonuses were smaller than the same amount of work was worth last year.

Well, advocate and thou shalt receive. Quinn Emanuel just sent around a memo announcing that it will be increasing the top-end payments, to bring them in line with last year…

As we noted yesterday, it was a little surprising to hear Quinn associates complain about their bonuses. Quinn is a firm with some of the highest profits per partner figures in the business, and the firm generally shares the wealth with associates who put in a lot of hours.

This year, it seems that Quinn adjusted their grids and the hours tiers, which caused some people to be worse off than they would have been last year. The firm just announced that it will correct those discrepancies:

From: Richard Schirtzer
Subject: 2012 Bonuses

As has been pointed out, we used slightly different grids and milestones for bonuses this year than last. This resulted in most associates getting higher bonuses under this year’s schedule. However, a few associates at the higher end of the scale received lower bonuses than they would have under last year’s schedule, which we would like to correct. So we will be issuing supplemental checks to those associates to make up the difference.

Here’s what I like about this: if you have a problem with how much you’re being paid, you should tell somebody. I can’t stand the old, WASPy conventions that suggest it’s uncouth to talk about money. That’s something that only rich people have the ability to afford.

For the rest of us, money is important, we wouldn’t work without it, and telling people “hey, you call this a bonus” should be an acceptable start to a conversation. Talking about money allows people to get a little collective action going, and in my experience most employers want people to feel that they’re being paid fairly — employees are more productive when they’re not feeling exploited. It doesn’t have to be acrimonious, but there’s no harm in it being transparent. People should feel comfortable telling their bosses how much they expect to be paid, because bosses are very comfortable telling people how much (or little) they are worth.

I’m not saying Quinn associates should march into John Quinn’s office and demand dollars (unless you’re asking for change for a $100). But a respectful airing of grievances never hurt anybody. And for people not working at Quinn, this seems like a good time to remind you that we can be reached at tips@abovethelaw.com, or you can text us at (646) 820-8477.

I think Quinn Emanuel handled this situation like adults. There was a problem, the concern was voiced, the problem was solved. And now everybody can go back to pretending to work until the four-day weekend.

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Not Enough Silver and Gold on the Quinn Christmas Tree?

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