Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Sullivan & Cromwell Speaks

The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. The extremely prestigious and profitable Sullivan & Cromwell, which we recently described as “one of the few firms with the wherewithal and the gumption to best Cravath’s already healthy bonuses,” just announced its scale.

Are we about to write a new chapter in Associate Bonus Watch 2012? Or have we reached the end of this tale?

Please note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.

The End — or so it appears, at least as of now. We’re still getting reports in from the different classes — S&C sent out individualized compensation emails, so we don’t have the full scale — but as of now, it’s looking like a match of the Cravath bonuses.

Thus far, we’ve received confirmations of Cravath amounts for the classes of 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008. So far, all are matches of Cravath. Of course, if we hear of higher amounts for other classes, we will update this post immediately.

The bonuses will be paid on December 21, the same date as Cravath. There was no mention of spring bonuses. Here’s the form of the email from chairman Joe Shenker:

As the year concludes, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all the partners of the Firm, to thank you for your efforts. You can view your personal compensation information, including your bonus and 2013 base salary, by clicking the link below.

The link then takes you to the firm intranet site, where you can look up your own bonus amount.

How are S&C sources receiving the news? Here are two responses:

“Not surprised, though certainly grateful. I doubt very many people expected [class of 2012 members] to get any sort of a bonus before Cravath announced. Of course, ATL speculation raised a small hope that S&C would show Cravath up, but I’m not complaining.”

“I’m happy. I have to believe the firm incurred quite a big expense due to Hurricane Sandy (even considering any insurance payouts), so in a way it is nice to see the partners did not turn that into a justification for lower bonuses.”

Note that because S&C owns its offices, a move that boosts its profits in most years, it might have suffered more financially as a result of Hurricane Sandy. But as Shenker told Am Law, “The costs of the restoration should be covered fully by insurance. I sure have been paying enough premiums.”

Here’s a third associate’s reaction:

“Happy that bonuses are better than last year (and, these days that means better than expected). Not surprised that they are the same as ‘market’ for my year. I expect higher years may beat market if past practice holds.”

So, have any more-senior S&C associates received Cravath-beating bonuses? If so, let us know, by email or by text (646-820-8477). We’ll update this post as we receive additional confirmations from additional classes. But for junior associates, the market seems to be set.

Next up: bonuses at the elite non-lockstep firms, like Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins….

UPDATE (9:45 PM): S&C’s scale is identical to Cravath’s at all levels, according to the American Lawyer.

UPDATE (12/6/2012, 10:30 AM): There’s some disagreement among our class of 2012 sources as to whether their bonuses amount to Cravath’s pro-rated $10,000. Each of them will receive $2,500, which is what Skadden is paying its class of 2012 associates. S&C had a uniform start date of September 10, 2012, so $2,500 seems about right, but there may be some divergence; we don’t know Cravath’s exact pro-rated amounts. But the divergence is certainly not large.

UPDATE (12/6/2012, 11:00 AM): Remember that S&C associates, unlike most of their colleagues at peer firms, received spring bonuses in 2012 — but the amounts were relatively small this year.

S&C, Fried Frank Still Coping With Sandy Damage [American Lawyer]

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2012

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