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

Associate Bonus Watch: Bellyachin’ at Akin

Congratulations to the 11 new partners at Akin Gump. They’re an impressive and diverse group, hailing from offices all across the country.

But not all news out of Akin is happy. Last month, for example, the firm — a perennial contender in our annual holiday card contest — failed to take top honors.

And some Akin associates feel that they got coal in their stockings this winter. Let’s check out the Akin grumps….

UPDATE (2/15/2013, 9:30 AM): Full bonus memo added after the jump.

The complaints we’ve heard come from offices outside of New York. We understand that the firm matched the Cravath scale in the Big Apple.

UPDATE (5:30 PM): A source reminds us that you need to make your hours at Akin in New York to receive a Cravath bonus.

UPDATE (2/15/2013, 9:30 AM): The bonus memo for Akin-New York appears on the next page.

If you worked outside of NYC and harbored expectations of Cravath-level bonuses — well, Akin has ways of shutting that down. Here are some reactions:

“Ouch outside of Akin NY. Half Cravath for 2,100ish billable. Ouch.”

“Outside NY, people typically got a reasonable bonus at 1950 hours in the past. This year the bonuses were surprisingly low. I don’t know anyone who got a bonus at the Cravath level in [this office] other than someone who billed 2400 hours.”

Wow — working 2400 hours to get a Cravath-level bonus sounds less than appealing (although there are a fair number of associates at Cravath who work 2400 hours for a Cravath-level bonus).

Here’s what a source in Akin’s D.C. office believes to be the rough scale in that office for around 2000 to 2100 hours (with the Cravath amount indicated parenthetically):

2009 – $12k ($20k)
2008 – $15k ($27k)
2007 – $17.5k ($34k)

These amounts are just slightly greater than half of Cravath.

We reached out to the firm for comment. Here is Akin’s statement:

As has been the case for years, Akin Gump is awarding New York market bonuses to eligible associates and counsel. The New York market scale matches the Cravath scale. In non-New York markets we are awarding bonuses that are competitive with local markets. Bonus eligibility is based on merit and takes into account a number of factors, including work quality, demonstration of progress through the firm’s core competencies, productivity and contribution to practice group performance, firm citizenship and pro bono efforts. In certain instances, additional bonus amounts are paid in cases of exceptional overall performance.

Because the Akin bonuses are “black box,” it’s hard to confirm the claim that the non-NYC bonuses are “competitive with local markets.” We can trust Akin, but can’t verify.

In fairness to the firm, Akin associates aren’t alone in having bonus issues. We’re hearing rumblings about bonus dissatisfaction at various other places, including some that might be considered competitors of Akin. If you have information to share, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

(Flip to the next page for the Akin Gump bonus memo for the New York office.)

(hidden for your protection)

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