Biglaw, Bonuses, Lateral Moves, Money, Partner Issues

Associate Bonus Watch: Morrison & Foerster (Non-NYC)

There’s lots of good partner-level news coming out of Morrison & Foerster. The firm has been hiring new partners (including a star of the bankruptcy bench and an FCPA guru), bringing back former partners, and making new partners.

What about associate-level news? That brings us to today’s topic of bonuses for MoFo associates (non-NYC)….

Back in December, we covered bonuses for Morrison & Foerster’s New York associates. In NYC, MoFo basically followed the Cravath scale, sweetened with extra cash for big billers.

Earlier this month, MoFo announced bonuses for associates beyond the Big Apple. The full memo, from firm chair Larren Nashelsky, appears on the next page.

Here is one tipster’s take on the news:

The firm previously sent an email that said we had a better year-end collections drive and that “among other things”, this meant staff would get bonuses for the first time in several years. How did this play out in the associate bonus arena?

Non-NY associates receive a haircut of a third of what their NYC counterparts received. Also, no stub bonuses for the incoming associates. (Not that I think they deserve bonuses anyway, but if we’re really on par with firms like Gibson and Kirkland, shouldn’t the worker bees be treated as equal too?)

Also, the difference in value between the first bonus-eligible class and someone slightly more senior is a joke. For the same billable hour requirement (1950), and rates that jump by anywhere from $50 to $90 a year, a third-year associate produces more than $100k more than someone two classes below them, yet receives only an extra $2,500 in bonus pay.

And while it’s possible to come out higher if you perform above level, your evals are based off of feedback from August, so that work you had to do on Thanksgiving and Christmas, while ignoring your out-of-town family or kids, doesn’t count.

After the individualized bonus memos got issued, this source added:

I stand by my previous comments and say that the bonus scale undervalues associates outside of NYC, which coincidentally is where most of the firm’s associates are. There’s too much compression to make the bonus scale compelling.

In fairness to MoFo, compression and inadequate compensation for marginal hours billed are complaints you hear at many other firms as well. We won’t name names, but you can spin through the bonus coverage archives to find out some of the offenders.

Please note, of course, that this assessment is just one source’s view. If you disagree, feel free to comment, email us, or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

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

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