These are interesting times for the world of Biglaw. Some large law firms are feeling so flush they’re giving out not one but two bonuses this year. Others are laying off associates. Sharing space in the pages of ATL are dueling features: Associate Bonus Watch and Nationwide Layoff Watch.
Before the next round of bonus news, it’s time for some layoff coverage. In the New York Law Journal, Anthony Lin has this report:
In one of the first clear signs that slumping credit markets are causing economic pain at law firms, Clifford Chance on Monday laid off a group of associates in the structured finance area.
John Christian, the partner in charge of the London-based firm’s U.S. personnel committee, said the firm had made a difficult “business decision” to lay off the six associates in a practice group that worked exclusively for credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The lawyers in the group had reviewed the documentation S&P used to rate mortgage-backed securities, the market for which has collapsed in recent months.
“We concluded this work just wasn’t coming back,” Christian said. He declined to discuss the severance packages offered to the associates, but one of those terminated said they were offered three months’ salary with no bonus. Indeed, the associate said the timing of the layoffs seemed designed to deprive the targeted associates, all of whom were relatively senior, of their bonuses.
Interesting. So are associate bonuses and layoffs just two sides of the same coin?
More after the jump.
Apologies for the delay. The bonus announcement of Sullivan & Cromwell was made by firm chairman H. Rodgin Cohen at 5:10 p.m. today, but it took us a few hours to get our hands on the memo.
For associates in the class of 2007 through the class of 2004, S&C is paying the standard year-end and special bonuses. But for more senior associates, it’s paying lump-sum bonuses — none of this “special” business — of $80,000 (2003), $95,000 (2002), and $110,000 (2001 and above).
These amounts reflect the new S&C senior associate bonuses — in part. More cash will be forthcoming in 2008. From Rodge Cohen’s memo:
As announced earlier this year, the Firm will pay senior associates compensation in addition to salary and bonus through our new Senior Associate Supplemental Bonus Plan (“the Plan”). We have decided to accelerate payments under this new Plan to result in the following amounts being paid on December 14 to our senior associates, with final supplemental payments to be made in the Spring of ’08.
One of our favorite firms here at ATL, Quinn Emanuel, has announced bonuses. And in true QE fashion, they’re doing things a little differently (which is why we like them so much — they keep things interesting).
Their year-end bonuses are standard, but their “special” bonuses are, well, special. In some ways, the Quinn scheme is better: mo’ money. In some ways, it’s worse: half of the special bonus paid this month, half in June 2008.
For details, check out the memo, after the jump.
P.S. We’d like to do a little write-up of the QE Deer Valley recruiting trip. Can any of you help us? Please submit any info by email. Thanks.
The firm of McKee Nelson — which has been having some issues, thanks to the credit crunch, but is making valiant efforts to deal with them — just announced its standard bonus scale. It is availing itself of the fig leaf provided by Cravath’s bifurcated bonus scheme: it’s not paying “special” bonuses, just regular year-end bonuses.
As explained in the memo:
[A]n individual associate’s bonus will be determined by the quality of such associate’s work, his or her overall contribution to the Firm, and the number of billable hours worked. [B]ased on these factors certain associates will receive more than, and others less than, the standard scale for their class.
We realize we’re late to the party on this one. The WSJ Law Blog wrote about it last week. We linked to it today in Morning Docket, but based on the email we’ve received about it, clearly many of you have more to say about it.
News flash: Wal-Mart is cheap. From the WSJ Law Blog:
Before any more law firms match the latest bump in associate compensation, they may want to take stock of this memo issued yesterday by Wal-Mart. [T]he memo raises concerns about the recent increase in associate starting pay to $160,000.
“The salaries that law firms choose to pay their junior associates are none of our concern,” writes Miguel Rivera Sr., associate general counsel for the retail chain.
Oof! But Rivera continues, “Based on the size and frequency of the rate increase requests that we have seen over the past three years, it appears that many of the requested increases are largely attributable to the steady, nationwide increases in junior associate salaries.”…
“We are today announcing a moratorium on across-the-board rate increases. Until further notice, we will only consider reasonable, individual requests for rate increases for those attorneys in your firm who are performing at an exceptional level and whose experience and knowledge is adding substantial value towards meeting Wal-Mart’s legal objectives.”
Update: Due to your requests, we’ve placed the rest of this post — which includes a rather disgusting picture of diseased feet, so consider yourself warned — after the jump.
Friday was a busy day for associate bonus announcements. We reported bonus news from Cleary, Willkie, Cahill, and Dewey & LeBoeuf.
But we didn’t get everyone. Apparently Shearman & Sterling also announced on Friday afternoon. (But we didn’t get the memo until the weekend — please, people, we know you can do better.)
Memo after the jump.
Cahill Gordon & Reindel has matched, but won’t pay until January 2008. From the memo:
MEMORANDUM TO COUNSEL, SENIOR ATTORNEYS
November 2, 2007
We are pleased to announce that our regular and special merit bonuses for 2007
for associates in good standing at December 31, 2007 will be as follows:
Class Regular Bonus Special Merit Bonus
Class of 2007 – $35,000 (pro -rated) —
Class of 2006 – $35,000 $10,000
Class of 2005 – $40,000 $15,000
Class of 2004 – $45,000 $20,000
Class of 2003 – $50,000 $30,000
Class of 2002 – $55,000 $40,000
Class of 2001 – $60,000 $50,000
Class of 2000 – $65,000 $50,000
Class of 1999 – $65,000 $50,000
Class of 1998 – $65,000 $50,000
Bonuses for Counsel, Senior Attorneys and other associates will be determined on
an individual basis. Bonuses will be paid by January 11, 2008. Counsel, Senior Attorneys and
Associates who were on unpaid leave or worked part-time during any part of this year and those
who started during this year will be eligible for pro-rated bonuses.
Thank you for your dedication, hard work and continued contribution to the success
of the Firm.
We would’ve had this up a few minutes ago, but the technical difficulties that Lat mentioned yesterday are still lurking around. Bring on the new fancy servers.
At any rate, Cleary Gottlieb has matched, and the memo is after the jump.
We’ve had this news for a while, but technical difficulties prevented us from posting on the main page. We did note it in the comments.
Milbank has matched. Memo after the jump.
Due to the aforementioned technical difficulties — we’re switching to new servers later this month, thankfully — we’re signing off for the day. If any more bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, feel free to discuss it in the comments (and also please email us, since we don’t read every last comment). Thanks.
All the beautiful people over at Davis Polk can still afford their gym memberships and spa treatments. DPW just matched market in terms of bonuses.
Davis is paying the standard year-end bonuses, topping out at $65K, and special bonuses, to be paid on November 26. Bonuses for counsel will be determined individually.
Memo after the jump. Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.