Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money, Partner Issues

Associate Bonus (and New Partner) Watch: Morrison & Foerster

We’ve been hearing a fair amount of happy news out of Morrison & Foerster lately. Last month, for example, the firm announced 15 new partners — a sizable class.

“We recently made a whole slew of people partner,” said a source. “Looks like our biggest class in a few years and includes several home-grown talents.”

One happy camper even wrote in to rave about the D.C.’s office celebration of Black History Month this past Monday, which featured a conversation between Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), an icon of the civil rights movement, and Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Minority Whip.

“The event was fantastic,” this tipster told us. “Congressman Lewis stayed to chat with MoFo attorneys and staff until 9 p.m.”

But happiness is not universal at Morrison & Foerster. On the subject of associate bonuses, we’ve heard from a few angry MoFos….

Here are what the firm’s critics had to say about the bonuses:

“After hitting the billion dollar mark in revenue this year, MoFo (non-NY) is giving below what has turned out to be market level bonuses.”

“Most aren’t happy over here.”

In fairness to the firm, we heard from a roughly equal number of sources who were neutral or positive:

“Everyone I’ve talked to seems pretty happy about the range. We’ll see when individual memos hit…”

“No complaints/comments from me on the bonus numbers. I received [a standard] bonus.”

So which side is in the right? Here are MoFo’s bonus numbers for non-New York offices (with the Cravath scale amounts indicated parenthetically for comparison):

Class of 2012 – $10k, prorated by start date (Cravath: pro-rated $10k)
Class of 2011 – $10k to $20k, median $15k (Cravath: $10k)
Class of 2010 – $10k to $50k, median $15k (Cravath: $14k)
Class of 2009 – $12.5k to $60k, median $35k (Cravath: $20k)
Class of 2008 – $15k to $60k, median $35k (Cravath: $27k)
Class of 2007 – $20k to $65k, median $40k (Cravath: $34k)
Class of 2006 – $20k to $65k, median $40k (Cravath: $40k)
Class of 2005+ – $25k to $70k, median $50k (Cravath: $50k)

(As previously reported, the New York office is basically following the Cravath scale, supplemented by “discretionary” bonuses for high hours.)

In defense of MoFo: for most classes, the median bonus meets or exceeds Cravath. So one could argue that these bonuses are actually not “below market.”

To criticize MoFo: because the figure in question is a median rather than a mean, it could be concealing a number of very weak bonuses. Also, remember that MoFo is not a lockstep firm, so (1) people who don’t make their hours get no bonus and (2) people who barely make their hours get sub-market bonuses (compare the “Standard Bonus at 1950 hours” in the MoFo memo to the Cravath scale).

Readers, what do you think? Feel free to opine in the comments. You can flip to the next page to read the full Morrison & Foerster memo.

Want all the latest bonus news delivered directly to your inbox?

Enter your email address to sign up for ATL's Bonus Alerts.

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments