Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Bonuses Are Served At Clifford Chance And Fried Frank

The week’s almost over, but we’ve got more bonus news for you. While Sullivan & Cromwell, by matching Cravath, might have dashed your hopes of the bonus market climbing higher, there’s still a chance — probably a one-in-a-million chance — that another very special firm could do it.

In fact, every time an associate says, “I don’t believe in higher bonuses,” there’s a would-be Boies-level bonus someplace that falls down dead.

Were Clifford Chance and Fried Frank daring enough to raise the bonus market? Let’s find out….

Several tipsters have reached out to let us know that Fried Frank has announced its 2013 year-end bonuses, and lo and behold, the firm matched the Cravath scale. “Guess they had to keep appearances up,” said an associate. In case you don’t remember, according to the latest Am Law 100 rankings, Fried Frank’s profits per partner sank like a stone, with a 16.8 percent drop. Take the money and run, folks.

UPDATE (12/14/2013, 11:30 a.m.): We haven’t seen the Fried Frank memo — feel free to send it to us if you have a copy — but according to Am Law Daily, the memo from cochairs Valerie Ford Jacob and David J. Greenwald states that additional bonuses may be awarded “to associates who have shown exceptional performance based on activity levels and quality of hours worked, client service, pro bono activities and firm contributions.”

Unsurprisingly, Clifford Chance also gave the Cravath scale a chance. The firm announced U.S. bonuses this morning, and the cash will hit bank accounts on January 15, which seems to be standard practice from years past. One source said, “I’m happy enough… it is exactly what everyone expected we would get, as nobody anticipated the firm would go above market.” So, like almost all of the firms we’ve covered, Clifford Chance is a follower (except for when it comes to giving “presentation tips” to lady lawyers). Here’s some color commentary from an associate:

No surprises here, but, like many, I’m very disappointed with this year’s bonuses. I wish I had applied to Boies; they really know how to make their associates feel as though they are part of the team.

With bonuses big enough to pay off law school loans in one fell swoop, we all wish we’d applied to Boies.

That’s a wrap on today’s bonus news (thus far). If we missed your firm’s bonus announcement, please email us or text us (646-820-8477). And remember, we appreciate memos, so send one if you can. Thanks!

(If you’re interested, the bonus memo from Evan Cohen, regional managing partner of the U.S. offices of Clifford Chance, can be found on the next page.)

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