Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Rewards Big Billers With Extra Cash

It’s Friday the 13th, and many consider this day to be unlucky, especially if they’re at a lockstep firm in New York. There simply isn’t any suspense left to be had for these people. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t received your bonus yet because you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Cravath has spoken, and even Sullivan & Cromwell has fallen in line behind the king of bonus compensation. But some firms — like Boies (with a jaw-dropping $300K bonus), Ropes & Gray, and Schulte Roth & Zabel — are giving especially industrious associates some additional monetary awards for all of their hard work.

If you’re employed at a firm like Kaye Scholer and you worked your tail off in 2013, you must be jumping for joy right now. How high did their bonuses climb?

We haven’t seen the Kaye Scholer bonus memo yet, but here’s a report from the ABA Journal:

Kaye Scholer will pay bonuses of $10,000 to $60,000 for associates in good standing, depending on their class year. But for those who billed 2,200 hours or more, another schedule kicks in….

The second-tier schedule begins at $20,000 for second-year associates, and tops out at $60,000 for those in the 2007 class, $70,000 for those in the 2006 class and $80,000 for those in the 2005 class.

That compares [with] bonuses of $10,000 for both first- and second-year associates, $40,000 for those in the 2007 class, $50,000 for those in the 2006 class and $60,000 for those in the 2005 class whose billable hours for 2013 were below the 2,200 threshold.

Michael Solow, the firm’s managing partner, had this to say about his firm’s practice of topping off associates’ bonuses with a little something extra: “At Kaye Scholer, we strongly believe in rewarding our lawyers who not only meet, but regularly exceed, expectations. Every year there are some associates whose performance is truly outstanding, sacrificing from their personal lives to serve our firm and clients. We think it only appropriate that those associates receive a little extra at bonus time, which is why we instituted the two-tier bonus system four years ago, and continued it this year.”

Do you want to know what the best part of Kaye Scholer’s good deed for high-billing associates is?

According to the most recent Am Law 100 rankings, all of the firm’s monetary stats dropped in 2012 — gross revenue was down by 4.8 percent, revenue per lawyer was down by 2 percent, and profits per partner were down by 2.9 percent. And yet Kaye Scholer cares so much about its most awesome associates that it’s paying market to above-market bonuses to keep them happy. Wow. With many firms posting record financials and quickly jumping on Cravath’s bonus bandwagon, this firm deserves to be praised. And this isn’t new behavior for Kaye Scholer. Back in 2011, it made our list of the 10 most generous law firms — the 10 firms that pay out the largest percentage of partner profits in bonuses.

Congratulations to the Kaye Scholer associates, especially the high-billing ones, on the nice bonuses, and congratulations to Kaye Scholer for being a commendable law firm.

(If you have a copy of the Kaye Scholer bonus memo, feel free to shoot us a copy. We’ll update this post to add the memo if we receive it. Thanks!)

Kaye Scholer ups ante, will pay bonuses of $10K to $80K in its two-tier plan [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Rewards Big Billers
Keeping Up With the Cravathians: The Ten Most Generous (or Foolish?) Law Firms

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