Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Bonuses, Boutique Law Firms, Clerkships, Litigators, Money, Susman Godfrey

Associate Bonus Watch: Susman Godfrey

Even if the big lockstep New York firms are done, associate bonus news continues to roll in from around the country. For example, bonuses are out at Sidley Austin. We’re working on a story for tomorrow; feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477) with your reactions (to be used anonymously).

Today brings bonus news from Susman Godfrey. The high-powered boutique is known for high-stakes commercial litigation — and high, market-beating bonuses.

(And high-attendance holiday parties too; this year’s fête in New York drew more than 500 guests, many of them boldface names of the legal profession. As I observed on Twitter, “you could staff a great law firm with the guest list at the Susman Godfrey holiday party.”)

So how big were the Susman Godfrey bonuses this year?

As they did in 2011 and in 2010, the Susman Godfrey bonuses handily beat the market. We’re hearing that they ranged from $35,000 for associates in the class of 2010 all the way up to $85,000 for associates in the class of 2006. Compare this to the Cravath scale, which pays $14,000 to class of 2010 members and $40,000 to class of 2006 members.

You’ll note that the range of class years at Susman diverges from the Biglaw scale. The most-junior associates receiving bonuses belong to the class of 2010 because the firm requires associates to clerk first, and the most-senior associates belong to the class of 2006 because that class was up for partner this year. The firm has a very short partnership track, as well as no non-equity partners; when you make partner at Susman Godfrey, you make partner.

It’s not an easy firm to get into, due to its small size (about 100 lawyers total) and high hiring standards (such as the clerkship requirement). But if you can make it in, the rewards are great. Congrats to the Susman Godfrey associates on another year of robust bonuses.

UPDATE (12/18/2012, 1:00 PM): And congrats also to Susman’s three new partners: David Peterson (Houston), Joseph Portera (Dallas), and Genevieve Vose (Seattle). The press release announcing the new partners also mentions that, thanks to bonuses, some Susman associates earned as much as $330,000 in total compensation. Wow!

UPDATE (1/1/2013, 11:15 PM): Susman Godfrey associates got the happy news on New Year’s Eve that their bonuses will be increased by an additional five percent. Partner Jacob Buchdahl explained that the firm ended the year with substantially higher income than was expected even a few weeks ago when associate bonuses were announced, so it decided to increase those bonuses even though they already were substantially higher than those given by Susman Godfrey’s competitors.

“We want our associates to feel, from the outset, that they are personally invested in the success of the firm,” Buchdahl said. “We say that in recruiting, and we backed up the rhetoric with an extra check for every associate. Even though we already were higher than other firms, we base our bonuses on our own success, not on what other firms are doing.”

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Susman Godfrey Pays Ten-Gallon Bonuses
Associate Bonus Watch: Susman Godfrey Shatters the Cravath Bonus Scale

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