Associate Bonus Watch 2012, Associate Salaries, Biglaw, Bonuses, Money, Pro Bono

Associate Bonus Watch: Jenner & Block

Many good things can be said about Jenner & Block. Above the Law readers who work there give it an overall grade of A-minus. It’s a top law firm for diversity.

The firm has a long and distinguished history of pro bono work. And it’s a leader in the area of government service. Many of its lawyers used to work at the Justice Department, the White House, and other top governmental entities. And many high-ranking government lawyers, such as solicitor general Donald Verrilli Jr., used to work at Jenner.

But what if you’re less interested in public service and more interested in debt service — specifically, retiring your own substantial law school loans? Is Jenner the best place to work?

Associate bonuses at Jenner came out last month (which is fairly standard timing for the firm). We didn’t receive a huge number of reports, but the ones we received were less than gleeful, like this one:

Jenner and Block bonuses: well below market. They are very secretive about this, but the range is about 50% below market if you hit your hours.

A second source, who was somewhat more positive about bonuses, maintained that the bonuses were generally in line with the Cravath scale:

Bonuses followed Cravath, but there was an additional $5k to scale if you hit some unknown number of billables. Don’t know the number — 2200? I think you needed to hit 2000 actual billables to get any type of bonus.

But don’t expect to do much better than Cravath:

Despite merit guidelines, I did not hear of any “super raises” or “super bonuses” for super star associates who had perfect reviews that went above and beyond Cravath. Leaves top performers perplexed.

This tipster also raised the question of raises, in terms of the traditional, annual increases in base salaries:

Raises are an issue. Talked with people who did not get raised to class year despite good hours and good reviews.

As some of you may recall, concerns about raises were mentioned last year too.

But we are #1 in pro bono!

Well, that’s nothing to scoff at. As we’ve said before, Biglaw isn’t all about the benjamins. For many lawyers, the deepest satisfaction comes not from a big paycheck, but from helping one’s clients.

We offered the firm the opportunity to comment on its bonuses. Here’s what Charlotte Wager, chief talent officer at Jenner, had to say:

As a general matter, Jenner & Block paid market bonuses to our associates for their performance in 2012. The firm determines market by reviewing the information available from other firms in each of our cities. Among other things, we consider the Cravath scale. In determining whether to award a bonus and the size of a bonus, the firm considers all relevant factors, including an associate’s performance, the number of billable hours, pro bono hours and approved firm hours and any other contributions made by the associate. Our policy provides that to receive a bonus an associate needs 2100 hours, which includes all pro bono and firm approved hours.

The Jenner bonus policy seems straightforward in overall structure. But in an individualized bonus system, the devil is in the details.

If you have bonus information you’d like to share, please feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

UPDATE (3 p.m.): Perhaps the bonus situation varies by office. One Jenner source claims that the Los Angeles office “consistently paid below Cravath bonuses.”

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Jenner & Block (2011)
And the Associates Rejoiced: Now Almost Everything Is Billable at Jenner & Block
Jenner & Block: Salaries and Bonuses Come in Low

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