Isn’t it a bit early to be pocketing bonus money?

As law students gear up for fall recruiting season — yes, the Biglaw gravy train still accepts new passengers, even if not as many as before — some rising 2Ls might start to think, after researching firm after firm, “All of these places sound alike! They all have cutting-edge practices in bet-the-company litigation or cross-border M&A. They all have collegial cultures and ‘no screamers.’ They’re all committed to diversity and pro bono.”

But there are real differences between law firms. If you doubt this, just check out Above the Law’s Law Firm Directory. You can see the different letter grades we’ve assigned to firms, based on reports from lawyers who work at each firm and on overall industry reputation.

Further proof that law firms aren’t all the same: while some firms are giving out pink slips, others are issuing bonus checks. And we’re in the middle of July, not exactly peak bonus season. What gives?

Cahill Gordon gives. For at least the fourth year in a row, the firm is paying summer bonuses. We’ve covered Cahill midyear bonuses in 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Last year, Cahill paid varying amounts based on seniority, generally $5,000 to junior associates and $10,000 to more-senior associates. This year, we understand that the firm paid the same amount to everyone: $10,000 each, to all associates in good standing.

Very nice. And remember that this is on top of above-market compensation previously paid to Cahill associates. In December 2012, the firm paid “special” bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, on top of the standard Cravath-level bonuses paid in January 2013.

How are Cahill associates receiving the news? The ones we’ve heard from seem content, but not elated.

“My feeling is that people are pleased,” said one source, “but the firm has been doing so well that NOT giving the bonus would have been a surprise.”

“People are generally not surprised,” said a second. “Most expected something given past precedent. Some have commented that they should have done more to really show how well the firm is doing. Would have been a good boost for OCI.”

How well is the firm doing? Pretty darn well, at least according to the latest Am Law 100 data. The firm ranked #13 in revenue per lawyer, with $1.15 million RPL, and #3 in profits per partner, with $3.6 million in PPP (behind only Wachtell Lipton and Quinn Emanuel). Cahill’s profit per partner figure increased 10.7 percent over the prior year. Perhaps the firm should have gone farther in our March Madness contest for the firm with the brightest future.

Congratulations, Cahill associates. While associates at other firms are worried about getting laid off, your biggest worries are why your summer bonuses aren’t bigger and where you want to spend the money. In picking Cahill, it sounds like you have chosen… wisely.

P.S. Any other midyear bonus announcements we need to cover? E.g., Quinn Emanuel, which paid summer bonuses last year? Let us know by email or by text message (646-820-8477).

Law Firm Directory [Above the Law]

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Cahill Gordon Brings the Heat
Associate Bonus Watch: Cahill Gordon’s Never-Ending Bonus Bounty
The 2013 Am Law 100: A Year of ‘Slow Growth’
ATL March Madness: The Law Firm With the Brightest Future — Round Three


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