Biglaw, Bonuses, Boutique Law Firms, Money, Small Law Firms, Susman Godfrey

Associate Bonus Watch: Susman Godfrey’s Supplemental Bonuses

Welcome back. Did everyone have nice holidays? With Christmas and New Year’s Day behind us, it’s back to work for many folks (although we’re guessing that a fair number of people are still off today and tomorrow).

Going back to the office means going back to a favorite topic here at Above the Law: bonuses. As we mentioned when listing of our 10 most popular posts of 2013, our third most-popular category page on the site was Bonuses. If you have bonus news to share with us, please email us or text us (646-820-8477).

Let’s kick off 2014 with some happy news. Which firm just cut a second round of checks to its associates, and how much are we talking about?

The litigation powerhouse of Susman Godfrey, which already paid out generous, above-market bonuses, issued supplemental bonuses earlier this week. We heard about the news from a happy associate at the firm: “Susman Godfrey just paid out an additional bonus to all associates. Everyone — associates and staff — got thousands more dollars.”

How much more? Here are additional details, courtesy of partner Jacob Buchdahl:

We expected our net income this year to look a lot like last year, and our associate bonuses this year (which you first broke in Above the Law) were set in accordance with that expectation. It turns out that we had a strong finish with some big fees coming just in the last two weeks. Because our net income ended up being substantially higher than expected when we gave the original bonuses, and because we like to share our success with our associates, the partners decided to give our associates a supplemental bonus on top of what they already received. The supplemental bonuses are 17% of the original bonuses, which ends up looking like this:

For associates who’ve been with the firm for one year, the median supplemental bonus is $6,800, which brings the median total bonus to $46,800.

Two years: $10,200, which brings the median total bonus to $70,200.

Three years: $12,750, which brings the median total bonus to $87,750.

Four years: $14,450, which brings the median total bonus to $99,450.

More than four years: $15,300, which brings the median total bonus to $105,300.

Happy New Year!

Happy new year indeed. Compare this to the standard NYC market scale, which starts at $10,000 for first-year associates and tops out at $60,000 for eight-year associates.

As for why the Susman scale stops at the four-year mark instead of the eight-year mark, we refer you to the earlier comments of founding partner Stephen Sumsan: “Our numbers are much more impressive when you consider that other firms’ highest bonuses, by far, go to their ‘senior associates. We don’t have ‘senior associates.’ Lawyers who would be ‘senior associates’ at other firms are called ‘equity partners’ at SG.” (And the incomes of equity partners at Susman Godfrey aren’t measured in the mere six figures.)

This is, by the way, not the first time Susman has issued additional bonus bounty due to strong collections. Back in 2012, the firm did so as well. But the 2013 supplemental bonuses, amounting to 17 percent of the original bonuses, are significantly higher than the 2012 supplemental bonuses, which came to 5 percent of the original bonuses.

How do your firm’s bonuses stack up against Susman Godfrey’s? Feel free to share with us by email or by text message (626-820-8477).

Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch (2013): Susman Godfrey
Associate Bonus Watch (2012): Susman Godfrey

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