Associate Bonus Watch 2010

This news shouldn’t come as a shock, since all the cool kids are doing it. But for the record, Cleary Gottlieb will be paying spring bonuses, following the top-of-the-market Cravath scale.

Cleary had previously announced spring bonuses on the Sullivan & Cromwell scale. In fact, CGSH was one of the first firms to follow S&C’s lead. But now that S&C’s spring bonus scale has been eclipsed, Cleary is stepping up to the plate and matching Cravath.

The news was announced today at an associate lunch, where Above the Law got a little shout-out….

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Spring bonus news seemed to slow down last week. But New York firms are still having their feet held to fire of spring payments. On Friday afternoon, Fried Frank announced that it would be joining the spring bonus parade.

Fried Frank will be matching the Cravath scale for spring bonuses.

I hate to bring this up, since Sullivan & Cromwell was nice enough to start the spring bonus trend in the first place. But really S&C, Fried Frank is now paying a bigger bonus than you guys. Isn’t it just about time to step up?

UPDATE: Bonus memos for New York and for D.C. — where spring bonuses are also being paid — after the jump.

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This is a little bit surprising. Not that Linklaters matched spring bonuses. We’re getting to the point that pretty much every firm that wants to be taken seriously is going to have to match spring bonuses.

No, the weird thing is that Linklaters matched the lower level of spring bonuses set by Sullivan & Cromwell, not the more generous spring bonuses adopted by Cravath (and the many firms that have rushed to join them).

Does that strike anybody else as strange? Why get into the spring bonus game at all if you can’t afford the extra thousands of dollars it takes to make a market level payment?

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Milbank Tweed? More like Milbank Cashmere. Associates at the firm can treat themselves to some luxury goods this weekend, in anticipation of the cash that’s coming their way in a few weeks.

Earlier today, the firm announced that it will be matching the Cravath spring bonuses. It’s a pleasant surprise to some….

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We recently wondered, in the wake of Cadwalader announcing spring bonuses, whether Willkie Farr (and several other top New York firms) might follow suit.

Well, the wait is over. Willkie has announced spring bonuses, on the top-of-the-line Cravath scale….

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In a postcript to our detailed post speculating about the future direction of the spring bonus phenomenon, we noted “an isolated report of one firm on the S&C spring bonus scale going back and raising to the Cravath scale,” but said we required additional corroboration.

We now have the requisite confirmation. On Tuesday, Simpson Thacher — which was the first firm to match the Sullivan & Cromwell spring bonuses, and therefore crucial in helping the S&C bonuses spread to other firms — announced that it would adopt the Cravath spring bonus scale (which is even higher than S&C’s).

Let’s go back to our listing of which firms have announced spring bonuses at which levels. Now that STB has raised to Cravath levels, only Sullivan & Cromwell and Cleary Gottlieb remain on the lower scale.

What will happen next?

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Tipsters report that O’Melveny & Myers has announced its bonuses. Tipsters are underwhelmed. Tipsters in California are starting to ask: “What about our spring bonuses?”

As we mentioned last night, spring bonuses are sweeping the nation. We’re actually working on a spring bonus update (pending confirmation of a few things). If you have information and memos about your firm’s spring bonuses, please send them to

We’re starting to worry that California might be left out in the cold. Last week, Morrison & Foerster announced it was still “monitoring” the New York market. Today we have news that O’Melveny is doing the same.

Guys, read Above the Law. The major New York dominoes have fallen. California associates read Above the Law, and they’re waiting for you to get with the program…

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One of my favorite law firm names is FreshfieldsFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to be precise, but I prefer Freshfields. It makes me think of rolling green hills, crisp laundered linens, or a dairy, producing the creamiest milk in all the land.

As it turns out, Freshfields is a law firm — a top international law firm, a member of the elite Magic Circle. And this Freshfields is rolling out the green, doling out crisp bills, and ladling out the cream — to its associates. As reported earlier today by Am Law Daily, yesterday Freshfields announced spring bonuses, on the top-of-the-market Cravath scale.

Freshfields isn’t alone. This afternoon, Cadwalader, which was publicly toying with the idea of spring bonuses, announced that it too would pay them, again on the Cravath scale.

These two moves are significant — far more significant than the earlier spring bonus announcements….

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In terms of the Above the Law publishing schedule, it would have been nice for firms to spread out their springtime bonus announcements. Then we’d have spring bonus posts to write up throughout the entire week. In case of emergency, break glass; in case of slow news day, write spring bonus post.

Alas, with no consideration for the convenience of your ATL editors, many major firms decided to act today. This morning brought spring bonus announcements from Paul Weiss and Weil Gotshal.

And this afternoon brings spring bonus news from Debevoise & Plimpton. Congratulations, Debevoise associates; now you can spring for Château Margaux at your Valentine’s Day dinners.

The memo, plus a quick summary of which firms have paid spring bonuses at which levels, after the jump.

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Last week, we told you that Weil Gotshal was waiting to see how the other top-tier dominoes fell before deciding on spring bonuses. Well, since that time, many dominoes have fallen, all in line behind Cravath. Davis Polk, Skadden Arps, and now Paul Weiss have all matched the Cravath spring bonus scale. Cravath’s bonuses are a little bit more generous than the spring bonuses previously announced by Sullivan & Cromwell.

Weil was trying to figure out which firm, Cravath or S&C, the market would follow. It looks like that’s going to be Cravath.

Tipsters report that earlier today, Weil decided to fall in line….

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