This actually happened last Wednesday — but, due to the less-than-exciting nature of the news, we doubt anyone has been prejudiced by our delay in reporting it. The law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf announced associate and counsel bonuses, on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale (i.e., the Cravath scale, but topping out at $42,500 instead of $37,500).
Even if not surprising, it is nice that Dewey is matching market. As you may recall, Dewey made our list of the top ten most generous law firms — i.e., ten firms that generally match Cravath-level bonuses, despite having significantly lower profits per partner than Cravath. Partners at these firms take a financial hit to keep their associates happy.
Just like last year, there are a few footnotes to the Dewey bonus news that merit comment. And there’s some positive news for top performers, too….
In late December 2010, the elite California law firm of Irell & Manella announced 2010 year-end bonuses that reportedly doubled the benchmark Cravath scale. Although some felt the firm could have been even more generous, given its strong performance in 2010, most Irell associates were quite pleased.
Discontent grew, however, over the following months. Sullivan & Cromwell announced spring bonuses, Cravath announced better spring bonuses, and most top firms followed suit. But not Irell.
Spring turned into summer. Some at Irell feared that the firm was done doling out bonuses until December.
But that fear was misplaced. Yesterday the firm announced “mid-year” bonuses.
Earlier this week, Hughes Hubbard & Reed finally got around to issuing spring bonuses. Oh, we can’t call them “spring” bonuses, because Hughes Hubbard is calling them “special” bonuses. But make no mistake, this is a spring bonus HHR has just taken a long time to get around to.
Unlike Cahill, which just gave their associates more money because they could, HHR is playing catch up to the 2010 bonus market. I can prove it: Hughes Hubbard’s special bonus is tied to 2010 performance and hours marks, not 2011.
I think if you are rewarding people for what they did in 2010, it’s pretty obvious that you are still trying to catch up to the 2010 compensation market…
Paul Clement and John Boehner: now out of King & Spalding's hair.
Some people, including crisis communications experts, think that King & Spalding should just shut up already about the DOMA debacle. The firm agreed to represent the House of Representatives in defending the controversial Defense of Marriage Act, and then almost immediately turned around and withdrew from the representation. This prompted the departure from the firm of star appellate litigator Paul Clement, former Solicitor General of the United States, who took the DOMA matter over to his new firm, Bancroft PLLC.
The decision to drop DOMA defense also led to the defections of King & Spalding clients, like the NRA and the state of Virginia. It generated criticism of the firm from diverse quarters — everyone from Ken Cuccinelli to the New York Times editorial board. [FN1]
Despite the advice of the communications experts (with which I personally agree), King & Spalding continues to discuss the DOMA debacle. The firm is starting to sound like a therapy patient that won’t relinquish the couch, and just wants to yap and yap and yap. Are you listening?
Let’s look at the latest revelations — and also some compensation news out of K&S….
While performing here at the ATL Cabaret on Wednesday night, the celebrated drag queen of Biglaw, Kaye Scholer, was pelted with rotten fruit — by her own associates. If you haven’t done so already, do check out their rage-filled rants. (If nothing else, they’ll make you feel better about your own firm.)
As we’ve stated before, we’re committed to presenting both sides of a given story here at Above the Law. Sometimes we don’t hear the other side of a story because the sources on that side don’t care to contact us. But when we do have both sides available to us, we present them.
In the case of the People v. Kaye Scholer, we did hear from a character witness on behalf of the defendant. What did this individual have to say?
Well, some associates at Kaye Scholer claim they’ve seen underneath all the make-up — and it’s not pretty. This contestant would not go far in RuPaul’s Drag Race.
In terms of responses to our recent discussion of which firms aren’t paying spring bonuses, however, Kaye Scholer emerges a winner. We’ve heard from KS associates in droves over the past day or two — and the depth of their fury is impressive.
What are they so upset about? It’s not just the lack of spring bonuses. Let’s find out….
DLA Piper has released some information about its associate compensation and bonus payouts, and some associates who work for the firm are unhappy. Why? I don’t really know. I don’t know why they thought that working for the largest firm in the world would be a good thing when it came time to pay out bonuses.
Attempts to economize on associate salaries are not new at DLA Piper. The firm has been at the cutting edge (pun intended) of reduced associate base salaries, deferrals of incoming associates, and various other methods for keeping the cost of associates down. It’s just how they roll.
It should surprise no one that DLA associates are complaining about the firm’s bonus plan. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s news that the firm seems to be low-balling associates. If anything, the news hook is that there are still associates at DLA Piper who are surprised by sub-market comp….
It’s April 29. Monarchists have long circled this day as an opportunity to praise the vestigial structures of imperial domination. But this day means a lot to people who earn their fortune through work instead of birth. Today is a huge day for Biglaw associates. For many, today is the day spring bonus payments hit their bank accounts.
Don’t spend it all in one place.
But as we all know, not every Biglaw associate will be enjoying a spring bonus this year. With the payments out, we’re no longer looking at which firms are “lagging” behind in their spring bonus announcements. Now we’re looking at firms that have simply decided they are not paying spring bonuses, regardless of what the market says. Apparently, keeping up with Cravath really will be ruinous to some firms.
So who has officially announced they will not be paying spring bonuses this year? We’ll tell you what we know about three Biglaw firms, and hopefully you can fill in any gaps…
The funny thing about spring bonuses is that nobody really planned on them. Firms really thought they were going to be able to get through bonus season paying Cravath’s lowball initial bonuses. Remember when Cravath seemingly set the market, and there was that one partner caught saying “thank God”? That’s what firms were thinking.
Well, spring bonuses have been with us for some time now, and most firms that are going to pay them have announced. Still, there are some firms that seem to be trying to figure out how to delay or avoid paying market compensation for as long as possible.
Schulte Roth is in that category. They’ll be paying spring bonuses, but only if you hit various 2010 and 2011 hours requirements.
And so while Schulte can say that it is “matching” the Cravath scale for spring bonuses, it seems like there are a lot of Schulte people who will not be seeing a single spring bonus dollar. These are the kinds of things that happen when firms are caught off guard by market forces…
It appears that Larry Sonsini, chairman and name partner of the high-powered Wilson Sonsini law firm, is a very good golfer. Earlier this year, while playing golf to celebrate his 70th birthday, the legendary lawyer scored a hole in one.
Sonsini isn’t the only one who’s scoring over at 650 Page Mill Road. His partners are doing deals left and right, and the fees are trickling down to the associates, who just scored some nice pay raises.
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.