But wait — did Milbank perhaps beat the Cravath and Skadden bonus scales? Let’s look at the details of the Milbank bonus announcement….
No surprises here: Skadden has matched the 2011 Cravath bonus scale. Given the sheer size of Skadden, in terms of attorney headcount, this announcement directly affects the pocketbooks of more lawyers than the Cravath news (although the indirect effects of Cravath as market leader are, of course, huge).
So we won’t have a repeat of 2008, when Skadden paid twice as much as Cravath (aka Half-Skadden). Firms are essentially recycling last year’s bonus schedules. Hence our snazzy “recycling money” image, which will be the logo for Associate Bonus Watch 2011.
Let’s look at the memo, along with reactions from SASMF associates….
- Bonuses, Copyright, Crowell & Moring, Food, Gambling / Gaming, Gloria Allred, Morning Docket, Pro Bono, Sex, Sex Scandals, Trademarks
* What’s the point of fleeing if you’re just going to let yourself get extradited? Ex-Crowell & Moring counsel, Douglas Arntsen, will return to New York to face grand larceny charges. [New York Law Journal]
* Knock it off: the feds took down 150 sites selling counterfeit goods yesterday, alleging willful copyright infringement. So much for all of those too-good-to-be-true Cyber Monday deals. [Blog of Legal Times]
* It’s pretty much impossible for Gloria Allred to take a client who doesn’t have a vagina. Her latest litigant, 16-year-old Cristina Fierro, is suing Lawrence Taylor for sex trafficking. [New York Post]
It took a little longer than most of you expected, but Cravath, Swaine & Moore just announced its 2011 associate bonuses (not long after announcing its new partners). Barring something very unforeseen, these bonuses are what many Biglaw firms, in New York and across the land, will pay out this year to their people. Historically Cravath has set the market with respect to year-end associate bonuses at major law firms.
The Cravath bonuses are what you might expect. They are in line with recent years, nothing crazy high or ridiculously low. Both Occupy Wall Street types and law firm associates can put away the pitchforks.
Let’s take a look at the official memorandum, and engage in some analysis….
On Friday, I started the official “damn it, I will hold my breath” bonus watch. I’ve already lost my editorial bet with Lat (I thought they’d come out before Monday), and now I just want them to get it started.
Also on Friday, our new Breaking Media research guru Brian Dalton started running a poll asking you, our readers, when you thought the bonuses would start flowing. It’ll be an interesting test case to rate the predictive power of Biglaw reader groupthink.
The numbers say that you expect bonuses to drop any minute now….
At large law firms around the country, associates and counsel are eagerly awaiting their bonuses. But partners and chief financial officers have their minds on other things: namely, collections. The fourth quarter is when firms step up their efforts at shaking down clients for cash.
As we all know from the law-and-economics reasoning that was taught to us in law school, people — yes, this includes lawyers — respond to incentives. At one leading law firm, bonus anxiety is being shrewdly harnessed in service of collections efforts.
CHECK YOU TIME SHEETS….
So if the firms are waiting for a personal invitation to announce their 2011 bonus payments, they should feel free to RSVP to this post. We’re ready for the bonuses now.
The firms aren’t scared, are they? They’re not worried about Occupy Wall Street protesters objecting to mere five-figure bonus news, are they? Haven’t the Occupy people proven that they aren’t even paying attention to the Wall Street lawyers?
So let’s get on with the process of spreading the wealth around Biglaw….
There’s an interesting post up on Constitutional Daily by The Philadelphia Lawyer. It’s a repack from a 2007 article arguing that salaries for first-year associates should go up to $190,000 a year.
And he’s right.
I know, I know — most Americans are still feeling the effects of a terrible economy. Occupy Wall Street is about to take pitchforks to those who are well-off in this country. Yada, yada, we’ll get back to the very sad story of America momentarily.
But you know who has done well over the last five years or so? Law firms. Especially Biglaw firms. Especially partners at Biglaw firms. Just look at the Am Law reports on profits per partner and revenue per lawyer. Firms are making money, more than they were in 2007.
Yet the associate salary scale hasn’t seen a raise for almost five years. And bonuses are down compared to 2007. Is it time for firms to start sharing the wealth?
I hope there is a big bonus payoff for all the hours people have been billing.
I also hope that people are still finding time to live their life. One commenter disturbingly said, “I’m currently at 2650 for the year. I was hoping to get to 3000 by year-end, although it will be a stretch.”
I think that this commenter is bragging that he’s on pace to kill himself. But all around Biglaw, people are putting in time…