Biglaw, Bonuses, john quinn, Money

Associate Bonus Watch: Quinn Emanuel (2013)

It looks like 2013 was another strong year for the litigation powerhouse of Quinn Emanuel. The firm continued to rack up victories for clients around the world. It opened offices in Sydney and Hong Kong. It landed a major mass-torts group from Skadden. And it named a whopping 13 new partners.

(One of those new partners is Jordan Goldstein, who makes a cameo in the recent New York Times obituary of noted pornography publisher Al Goldstein: “After his son, Jordan, disinvited him to his graduation from Harvard Law School, Mr. Goldstein published doctored photos showing Jordan having sex with various men and with his own mother, Mr. Goldstein’s third ex-wife, Gena.” Charming.)

Given the continued success of Quinn Emanuel, it seems that some associates were hoping for better bonuses. Let’s hear what they have to say….

Quinn Emanuel associates were getting very antsy earlier this week. As one of them quipped to us, “Boies rises, Cravath falls (flat), QUINN REMAINS… silent. Associates are on the verge of mutiny.”

Last night, the long wait came to an end. Here is the 2013 Quinn Emanuel bonus schedule (full memo on the next page):

As you can see, it’s substantially similar to the original 2012 scale, except with enhanced payments for high billers. Those enhanced payments perhaps reflect the supplemental checks that Quinn cut last year in response to associate complaints that the original 2012 scale didn’t reward hard work sufficiently.

Still, some associates seem less than pleased with the way that this year’s scale treats big billers. Here are a few reactions from our sources:

  • “The thing that kills me are the band kick ups. [A few thousand dollars] for 200 or more hours? Thanks for nothing. But again it shows that Quinn will always, always do what Cravath does. The days of being a salary leader are long gone.”
  • “I worked well over 2000 hours and beat the Cravath scale by a little bit, but not by so much that it was worth all the extra work.”
  • “Are you getting bombarded with tips from pissed-off QE associates? Do the partners think QE associates are so bad at math that they won’t see the bonus tiers are basically $10 an hour over 2100?”
  • “I can’t complain… I think they’re essentially what they paid last year, which is what everyone else has done (and what I expected). Hoped they might surprise us! So not jumping for joy (like Cahill), but not disappointed.”
  • “I don’t think any Quinn associate has ever said ‘I wish I worked at Schulte’ until today.”

As you may recall, the Schulte Roth & Zabel scale offers an extra $10K at the 2300-hour mark and another $10K on top of that at the 2500-hour mark. A similar system exists at Kaye Scholer, but with an even lower trigger, 2200 hours. Meanwhile, at Quinn, hitting 2300 or 2500 hours won’t give you an extra $10K or $20K except at the highest seniority levels (around the class of 2007 and up).

Another Quinn source pointed out that the tiers no longer have extra bonuses at 2600 and 2800 hours. Because of that change — which happened last year, when the scale was adjusted so that everything topped out at “2700 and above” — “lots of people got hosed, because lots of people hit 2800″ this year.

“Lots of people” hit 2800? Yikes. But then again, this is the firm that sent out the famous “CHECK YOU EMAILS” email.

It sounds like QE was super-busy this year, and it also kept associate compensation costs under control. Could 2013 be the year that John Quinn finally crosses “topple wachtell lipton from top of ppp rankings” off his to-do list?

(Flip to the next page for the full Quinn Emanuel bonus memo.)

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