Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Where Are The Biglaw Bonuses?

It’s Tuesday, November 26, past 5 p.m. Do you know where your bonus is?

When we surveyed our readership about 2013 law firm bonuses, 57 percent of respondents predicted that the first firm (traditionally Cravath) would announce during the week of Thanksgiving. That’s basically over. It’s theoretically possible we could get an announcement later tonight or sometime tomorrow, but it seems unlikely.

So what’s going on? Where. Are. The bonuses?

Let’s be honest: we’re really waiting on Cravath. Another Biglaw firm could move first, but it seems unlikely. Back in 2008, Skadden announced bonuses before Cravath, and it did not end well for Skadden. Cravath paid so-called “Half-Skadden” bonuses, everyone else followed Cravath, and Skadden ended up paying a lot of unnecessary associate compensation (unnecessary from the perspective of the Skadden partnership, not the grateful associates).

So we’re waiting on Cravath. Last year, CSM announced on the afternoon of November 26, the last Monday in November. Two years ago, CSM announced on the afternoon of November 28, also the last Monday in November. The announcements tend to happen on Monday afternoon because Cravath partnership meetings, where the bonuses get approved, take place on Mondays at lunch. (That’s one of the nice things about being relatively small and having almost all of your partners in the same city; the entire partnership can actually meet regularly — and in one room.)

Based on tradition, Cravath should have announced yesterday afternoon — November 25, the last Monday of November. And Cravath is a creature of tradition. What gives?

Well, it depends on what the “tradition” is. Thanksgiving falls a bit later this year. So it’s certainly possible that Cravath figured it should wait until the Monday after the holiday, December 2, to announce. In 2012 and 2011, the firm announced on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

It’s not an issue of payroll or cash flow. Even though Cravath typically announces bonuses in November, it doesn’t pay them out until December. In 2012, it paid bonuses on Friday, December 21; in 2011, it paid bonuses on Friday, December 9.

Cravath does have new leadership this year. This past January, Allen Parker replaced Evan Chesler as presiding partner. So perhaps Parker decided, for whatever reason, to make the announcement in December. Or maybe Parker floated a proposal this past Monday, but his partners decided they wanted more time to think about it. Perhaps it takes a while for a presiding partner to establish his authority over the full partnership.

Or maybe Cravath is just waiting until the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

Of course, this is all just speculation. If you have actual information on what’s going on over at Worldwide Plaza, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477). And when your firm’s bonuses get announced, please let us know ASAP. Don’t assume that someone else will let us know, especially since we prefer to wait until we have multiple tips on a bonus announcement before reporting it (because there’s safety in numbers). Thanks!

Earlier: Your 2013 Bonus Season Predictions
New Partner Watch: Another Big Partner Class At Cravath
Breaking: Cravath Announces Year-End Bonuses; Let the 2012 Bonus Season Begin!
Breaking: Cravath Bonuses Are Out; Welcome to the 2011 Bonus Season!
Cravath Bonuses Are Out: The 2010 Bonus Season Is Under Way!
Breaking: Cravath Bonuses Are Out and Down (2009)
Associate Bonus Watch (2008): Cravath Offers Less Than Skadden
Cravath Announces Bonuses — ‘Special’ and Otherwise!!!

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