Biglaw, Bonuses, BuckleySandler, Money, Partner Issues, Partner Profits

Associate Bonus Watch: Who Just Announced Midyear Bonuses?

To quote a recent headline, Midyear Bonus Bonanza Unlikely In 2014. We’d agree with that, at least as a general matter. Midyear bonuses are so “unlikely,” in fact, that we haven’t received any emails from anxious associates asking us about the possibility of midyear bonuses.[1]

But there are exceptions to every rule. Which highly profitable, finance-focused law firm just announced bonuses for both lawyers and staff?

At many law firms, support staff members are getting laid off. At BuckleySandler, the Am Law 200 firm known for its expertise in financial-services law, they’re getting bonuses. A tipster tells us:

BuckleySandler just announced midyear bonuses for all attorneys and staff. Attorney bonuses are individualized; it sounds like higher billers for 2014 will get a bump over a baseline bonus amount. They will be paid out at the end of the month. No other details yet — expecting individual memos to be distributed at some point.

Everyone has been crazy busy since the start of the year. We were told that the firm has had a very good year so far, and when that happens they like to share that success with employees. The last mid-year bonuses were in 2011.

We reached out to the firm for comment on the midyear bonuses. Andrew L. Sandler, the firm’s chairman and executive partner, confirmed the good news:

Yes, we are providing a midyear bonus to all lawyers and staff consistent with our practice since forming the firm in 2009 to share economic success with all those who contribute to the overall success of the firm. We are gratified by the confidence our clients have placed in us to handle many challenging and complex matters and our lawyers and staff have been working very hard. The partnership appreciates the effort and the contribution of our entire team.

What could have prompted the midyear bonuses? BuckleySandler is generally very profitable — #3 among Am Law 200 firms in terms of profits per partner, with PPP last year of $1.7 million — but this year there’s special reason for rejoicing. The firm just scored a huge settlement on behalf of the Navajo Nation: $554 million, the largest settlement obtained in any action by a single tribe against the United States. Don’t be surprised if BuckleySandler’s fee runs into the nine figures. Since the firm has just 26 equity partners, that could bump up average profits per partner by millions in 2014.

Congratulations to BuckleySandler and the Navajo Nation on the settlement, and congratulations to the firm’s lawyers and staff on the bonuses. These might be the first midyear bonuses of 2014, but let’s hope they’re not the last.[2]

[1] We’ll call them “midyear bonuses” rather than “spring bonuses” or “summer bonuses” since we’re in that ambiguous spring/summer point of the calendar — after Memorial Day, but before the official start of summer on June 21.

[2] Cahill Gordon, we’re looking at you.

Midyear Bonus Bonanza Unlikely In 2014 [Law360 (sub. req.)]
BuckleySandler Achieves Landmark Settlement in Navajo Nation Breach of Trust Lawsuit Against United States [BuckleySandler (press release)]

Earlier: The 2014 Am Law 200: Survival Of The Fittest

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