Bonuses

Don’t look now, but there is a spring bonus war brewing. I’m serious. Don’t be fooled with the way most Biglaw firms are trying to pretend that spring bonuses don’t exist. Two of the most profitable firms have entered into the spring bonus fight. And they are not in lockstep with each other.

We are, of course, talking about Quinn Emanuel and Sullivan & Cromwell. Quinn announced the fact of spring bonuses before S&C, but they didn’t announce any numbers. When S&C came out with its paltry spring bonuses a few days later, we didn’t have anything to compare it to.

Well, now we do. And the QE numbers are not going to make S&C associates happy…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Confirmation That Quinn Emanuel’s Spring Bonuses Will Be Much Better Than Sullivan & Cromwell’s”

If you consider Sullivan & Cromwell’s Spring Tip as if it were a real tip on a meal that cost $160,000, S&C tipped at .6%. Not 6%, but .6%.

Cravath Swaine & Moore should be able to match that if every partner at the firm went home and shook the loose change out of their couches.

So, I’m not even going to ask if they’ll match. That’s a pathetic question. I’m going to ask if Cravath will beat the S&C spring bonus.

I mean, it’s not hard. S&C has set the bar so low that Cravath can crawl over it. For the love of God, I’ll get a better “spring bonus” from Breaking Media than S&C associates are getting.

If Cravath moves, we can assume S&C will follow….

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Lat here. In late March, I wrote a story with this title: “Sullivan & Cromwell Will Pay Spring Bonuses — But Will They Be Too Small To Be Worth Matching?”

I’m sad to report that my prediction has come to pass. Sullivan & Cromwell has announced spring bonuses, but they’re nothing to write home about. They are probably too modest for other firms to bother matching. The spring bonuses of Quinn Emanuel will surely exceed the S&C amounts.

Sullivan promised spring bonuses in its 2011 year-end bonus memo, and it reiterated that promise on subsequent occasions. But the powers that be at S&C never said anything as to amounts, leading some to forecast wimpy payouts.

So how much are we talking about? Let’s find out, and get some color commentary from my colleague, Elie Mystal….

UPDATE (4:20 PM): We’re continuing to update this post. Go after the jump and refresh.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Sullivan & Cromwell Announces (Paltry) Spring Bonuses”

Two weeks ago, we talked about how hard Quinn Emanuel associates are working. Now we get to talk about how well Quinn Emanuel associates get paid.

In its year-end bonus memo, issued this past December, Quinn Emanuel said the following:

We know some firms have indicated they will pay additional bonuses this Spring. While we are not announcing any specific level of Spring bonuses now, we will certainly match any bonuses that other competitive firms may offer.

But while we wait for Sullivan & Cromwell to live up to its spring bonus promise, Quinn has become not a spring bonus follower, but a spring bonus leader….

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In case you haven’t heard (and you probably haven’t), today is apparently International Be Kind to Lawyers Day. So what are people supposed to do on this high holy day for lawyers? Scream “I’m ga-ga over my attorney!” out their windows? Work the phrase “I object!” into everyday conversations (as suggested by the creator of this event)?

Well, we’ve got an idea that we think our audience will really appreciate. Because the best way to be kind to lawyers in Biglaw is to show them the money. On that note, where are the spring bonuses?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Today Is ‘International Be Kind to Lawyers Day’ — So How ‘Bout Those Spring Bonuses?”

Today brings additional intelligence about spring bonuses at Sullivan & Cromwell (on the heels of yesterday’s report). This information has broad relevance within Biglaw because it’s clear that spring bonuses won’t happen on a large scale unless S&C moves. Four managing partners have already made clear to Am Law Daily that they won’t pay out unless they’re forced to do so. Any such forcing would presumably be done by S&C, which was the first mover behind last year’s spring bonus trend.

From the perspective of associates, there’s good news coming out of S&C, and there’s bad news. Which do you want to hear first?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell Will Pay Spring Bonuses — But Will They Be Too Small To Be Worth Matching?”

H. Rodgin Cohen

Yesterday I got to chat with H. Rodgin Cohen, one of the nation’s leading corporate lawyers. Cohen has been accurately described by the New York Times as “the dean of Wall Street lawyers” as well as the “trauma surgeon of Wall Street” (for his heroic work rescuing the nation’s financial system during the 2008 financial crisis).

When he’s not working on bank mega-mergers, Cohen plays a major role in running the venerable firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he has spent his entire legal career (except for two years as an Army lawyer). He served as chairman of the firm from 2000 until 2010, when he passed his crown to Joseph Shenker, but Cohen continues to serve in the role of “senior chairman.”

So of course I asked Rodge Cohen about a very hot topic: spring bonuses. What did he have to say?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Oracular Utterance from Sullivan & Cromwell on Spring Bonuses”

If this were a nature show, Dewey & LeBoeuf would be a prey animal that looks normal to the naked human eye, but you can deduce that it’s seriously wounded because of the vultures circling around overhead. Everybody seems to be waiting for things to go from bad to worse.

Of course, according to Dewey management, everything is going just fine. I mean, what do you expect them to say? It’s Dewey, not Gondor. The managing partner isn’t going to have press conference where he screams, “Abandon your posts! Flee! Flee for your lives!”

Instead, we have this quote from Dewey Chairman Steven Davis in the Wall Street Journal (subscription): “We are producing the best work in the history of the firm and producing some of its strongest ever results… The overwhelming majority of our partners are excited about our future.”

Uh huh.

Well, apparently those “strongest ever results” aren’t translating into “cash money” for people who work at the firm….

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Do you remember the first time you said “but you promised” to somebody who was probably older than you and in the process of not giving you what they said they’d give you? It’s a pathetic feeling: you’ve been counting on something, you see it being pulled away from you, and all you can do is throw yourself upon the mercy of another person’s sense of fair play.

That hopeless feeling is what Sullivan & Cromwell lawyers are feeling as a globally-warmed winter gives way to spring. S&C promised they’d be paying spring bonuses. But here we are, in the spring, and the firm is still silent.

Did they think everybody would forget? Or do they just think that breaking their word is no big deal?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “It’s the First Day of Spring: Has Sullivan & Cromwell Officially Lied About Spring Bonuses?”

In late February, bonuses were announced at Jenner & Block. The firm has an individualized bonus system, so there’s no table to pass along.

And it’s harder to assess associate reactions to bonuses in a non-lockstep system. But we’ll give it a shot, and we’ll also share with you some information provided by the firm itself….

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