Biglaw, Bonuses, Intellectual Property, john quinn, Layoffs, Money, Partner Issues

Associate Bonus Watch: No Mid-Year Bonuses at Quinn Emanuel (Plus Other QE Rumors)

No change to spare for Quinn Emanuel associates.

Earlier this month, when we wrote about Cahill Gordon’s summer bonuses, we floated a question about mid-year bonuses at other firms. Specifically, we wondered if Quinn Emanuel, a top-flight litigation shop that paid such bonuses last year, would do so again.

After hearing rumors of no mid-year bonuses at QE, we reached out to the firm for comment. Founding partner John Quinn confirmed the reports, correctly noting that the market has not paid spring or summer bonuses this year.

John Quinn also denied various other rumors about Quinn Emanuel, to which we now turn….

Various rumors about Quinn Emanuel surfaced over at AutoAdmit. We generally do not reach out to firms based on reports from AutoAdmit, but we did so here because over the past few months we’ve heard rumblings along similar lines about some of these items from our own sources. Here is the AutoAdmit posting in question, from Thursday, July 18 (numbers added to the items for ease of reference):

My office had an associate meeting this morning. One of the main partners in the office (but not managing partner) led the discussion. Basically we were told the following:

1. No Spring Bonuses this year, which has been paid every year for the past 10 years

2. The IP group hasn’t really brought in any new business. The group is slow.

3. General lit is busy, but mostly with FHFA and financial lit cases. Firm is positioning itself right now for when those cases wrap up, which they think will happen in the next 6 months to a year. They want to handle it better than they did the smartphone wars.

4. The firm did stealth associates this Spring. BUT, we made the cut so we have nothing to worry about (yeah right!)

5. We may have some partner defections in the coming months, but not to worry as they are not business generators.

Aspects of this struck us as a bit odd, so we reached out to the firm for comment. The famously candid John Quinn did not mince words in responding: “It’s BS. There was no such meeting. The information is all wrong.” More specifically, here is how John Quinn responded to each item:

1. Spring Bonuses: “We didn’t pay them this year. But it hasn’t been 10 years [that we’ve been paying them], more like three. So far as I am aware, the market hasn’t done this this year.”

2. Slowdown in IP Work: “Not at all true.”

3. Wind-down of FHFA/financial cases: “Structured finance is certainly very busy, but [we have] no idea when or if it will end. We are already on to the next thing in finance, having filed a couple of LIBOR cases.”

4. Stealth Layoffs: “Not true.”

5. Partner Defections: “Not true.”

John Quinn closed his message to us as follows: “Don’t know why you get this nonsense about QE.”

Of course, as captain of the S.S. Quinn Emanuel, John Quinn has an interest in saying that all is smooth sailing. To get more objective reports, we reached out to a number of our prior reliable sources at the firm, who offered mixed reactions. One tipster told us that the firm is experiencing issues:

Have heard rumblings about such meetings. I know that D.C. had one around a month ago that basically echoed everything in the thread except they didn’t admit layoffs (no one as far as I know have been laid off there).

There’s concern in the firm about the Samsung Apple case settling. Also, the FHFA cases are beginning to wind down, as evidenced by another settlement over the weekend (at the very least those cases aren’t growing). There have been partner meetings about a possible slow down. There is a major push for them to bring in business and they’ve made commitments to do so….

[The firm is not] a happy place right now.

But other Quinn sources denied such a meeting and the items supposedly mentioned therein. One of our sources denied any such briefing, at least in New York or D.C., while another said:

I’m skeptical. I have been here [for several years] and never heard of any office having an “associate meeting.”

Associates are kept completely in the dark as far as the business side of things, so [it’s] hard to imagine a meting about IP being “slow,” possible partner defections, layoffs, etc. Also, there is no IP “group”; we don’t have groups.

So what is going on at Quinn Emanuel? Are rivals making up rumors about the famously profitable firm, in a form of PPP-player hating? Or is the incredibly successful, rapidly expanding litigation powerhouse finally experiencing some growing pains?

If you have information to share, we’d love to hear it. Feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477; not a voice line). Thanks.

Associate Meeting at QUINN EMANUEL [AutoAdmit]

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Cahill Summer Bonuses Are Back

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