Clerkships

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It didn’t take long for the $50k club to gain another member!
Multiple sources tell us that Weil, Gotshal & Manges decided last night to match the $50,000 clerkship bonus being offered by Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Paul Weiss.
Who’ll be the next to join this exalted group?
Programming Note: With that exciting news, LEWW is signing off for the week. We’re heading up to New York for some things we can’t get in Alabama: Major League Baseball and Mario Batali.
It’s been an honor and a delight to fill in for David. He’ll be back soon with more on this and other stories. (And of course, LEWW will return with a new wedding column next week.)

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Multiple sources have just confirmed to ATL that Paul Weiss has matched the $50,000 clerkship bonus paid by Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
The head of recruiting called people with outstanding offers today to make the announcement.
From a source:

PLEASE post this news so that it will continue to put pressure on the other NY-based firms. The more publicity ATL gives this, the more buzz there is in the market. It’s a beautiful thing for us lowly law clerks.

Congratulations to Paul Weiss for joining this very select group. We predict that $35k is soon going to start looking pretty paltry in certain quarters.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIn the comments to our last post on clerkship bonuses, there was a claim that WilmerHale has raised its clerkship bonus to $35,000.
That claim is true. This email went out yesterday:

From: Dunbar, Andrianna
Date: Apr 19, 2007 5:52 PM
Subject: Clerkship Bonus Update
To:

As part of our commitment to providing attorney compensation that is at or near the top of the markets in which we practice, the firm has increased its judicial clerkship bonus from $20,000 to $35,000. This increase reflects the value the firm places on hiring former judicial clerks, as well as our intention to continue to attract the best and the brightest legal talent. We are committed to making the firm as attractive as possible for former clerks, and we recognize that the amount of the clerkship bonus can be important.

We continue to hope that you will accept our offer to join us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Regards,
Andrianna

There was also a rumor that Skadden had raised its clerkship bonus to $60,000. As far as we know — we’re happy to be proven wrong — that comment was a joke (or wishful thinking).
If you hear of anyone else raising — either to $35,000 or, better yet, $50,000 (the new S&C and Simpson standard) — please email us. We will probably do an update on this in another week or two, depending upon the level of activity on this front. Thanks.

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGApparently Sullivan & Cromwell is no longer the only Biglaw shop paying a $50,000 clerkship bonus. According to multiple sources, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett — which in January kicked off the latest round of base salary increases for associates — has followed suit.
If S&C were the only member of the $50K club, competitor firms could afford not to follow suit. We agree with what this tipster had to say (prior to the Simpson Thacher match):

“What I gather from this general reluctance on the part of NY firms to match S&C’s $50K clerkship bonus is that there’s an emerging view within the legal market that S&C’s decision to ‘surge’ their bonus rate is, in some sense, an anticipation that they’re going to have a tough recruiting season this fall.”

“This clerkship bonus craze has nothing to do with clerks — and anyone who thinks otherwise is mistaken. What firms do care about is a bunch of newbie 2Ls (who are a month or so away from wrapping up 1L year right now), with nothing more than a pedestrian understanding on how Firm A differs from Firm B, going to S&C’s website and seeing that they offer $50K and then going to, say, Davis Polk’s and seeing that they offer less than a third of that.”

“My hunch is that if one more top firm matches S&C, then the rest will soon follow. The big question is who moves first — and when.”

We concur in this analysis. Now that Simpson has joined Sullivan & Cromwell, resisting the clerkship bonus trend will prove more difficult (at least for other top ten New York firms). Expect places like Cravath, Davis Polk, and Cleary Gottlieb to fall into line.
Have you heard of anyone else matching? Please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThis is the rather belated update to our earlier report on the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We apologize for the delay, and we thank you for your patience and your tips.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000 for one clerkship, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) But if you have two years of clerkship experience, think about Weil Gotshal. They would pay you a bonus of $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

(b) In saying that no big firm has matched S&C, we aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

2. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

A firm-by-firm rundown, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGLast week, we asked you for information about the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We also made a few phone calls and sent out a few emails, to obtain information from the law firms themselves.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) There was a rumor about Paul Weiss matching S&C, but no one has confirmed it to us.

(b) We aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

Update: As this commenter notes, if you have two years of clerkship experience, then Weil is where it’s at: $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

2. As one Biglaw partner pointed out to us, it’s early to be thinking about clerkship bonuses, because we’re not yet at the point in the year when law clerks change over (typically in the summer or fall). So hopefully some firms will match S&C before it’s all over.

3. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

Firm by firm details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Special Report on Clerkship Bonuses”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGOn the heels of Sullivan & Cromwell’s announcement of its new $50,000 clerkship bonus, we will endeavor to find out what other large law firms are doing on this front.
If you know your law firm’s current clerkship bonus policy, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). We will serve as a clearinghouse for clerkship bonus information. We will collect your tips, organize them, resolve conflicts where they exist, and perhaps do some fact-checking where necessary.
(Our preference is for you to email this information to us, rather than to post it in the comments. Email allows us to pose follow-up questions of sources, which we can’t do with someone who posts a comment anonymously. As always, we do not reveal the names of sources, unless they request attribution. Thanks.)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGEarlier this week, we wrote about Sullivan & Cromwell’s new $50,000 clerkship bonus. We have confirmed this news with multiple sources, so you can take it to the bank.
This message about the S&C clerkship bonus bump included an amusing digression:

“You may be interested to know that S&C just called its incoming associates who are clerking to inform them of the 50K bonus. Since I accepted my offer from them, I have never once heard a peep from them about salary.”

“But they did send me a Christmas basket. Which turned out to be pretty pathetic, consisting of a soda pop, a tin of caramel corn, a Hershey bar, and a dvd of The Paper Chase.”

“I’m still puzzling over the last one. Maybe they’re trying to insinuate that firm life isn’t much worse than law school?”

So which S&C partner is the Professor Kingsfield of 125 Broad Street?
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Sullivan & Cromwell’s Clerkship Bonus

We find this hard to believe, but there are people out there who are even more obsessed than we are with law clerks. Like this person.
The lists are not complete, and the information could be presented in a more user-friendly fashion. But we suspect that some of you will find this blog very interesting anyway. And it certainly has great potential as a future resource — a la the fantastic Wikipedia listing of Supreme Court law clerks.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this site going forward.
I Seek Validation Through Clerkship Placement [main page]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWord on the street is that Sullivan & Cromwell is now paying a $50,000 clerkship bonus. In addition to Greedy Clerks, the news has surfaced in comments on this blog, and we’ve also heard about it via email. So the tip seems fairly reliable to us.
We first learned the news from a tipster with two prior clerkships, which raised the possibility that the $50K bonus reflected more than one clerkship. But it now appears that it’s actually a flat $50,000 bonus for anyone with a prior clerkship (i.e., a second clerkship doesn’t give you a second clerkship bonus (unless it’s a Supreme Court clerkship)).
Considering that a significant number of S&C associates come to the firm after having clerked, this rather large clerkship bonus is almost like a second pay raise (on the heels of the recent Simpson Thacher-induced salary bump). It appears to be second only to Kellogg Huber’s $100,000 clerkship bonus, and certainly the largest such bonus in New York.
So who cares about a few nasty partners? Sullivan & Cromwell is telling former clerks: “There’s $50,000. Bend over and pick it up — I’m sure you like that.” And many clerks will probably respond, “You bet we do! Fifty grand is pretty much equal to a law clerk’s annual salary.”
Feel free to discuss this development, or other clerkship bonus news and rumors, in this open thread.
S & C Raises Clerkship Bonuses! [Infirmation / Greedy Clerks]

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