Associate Bonus Watch 2012

When you read about a multibillion-dollar, highly contested corporate takeover, there’s a decent chance that Wachtell Lipton is involved. The firm, which routinely tops the American Lawyer’s profits per partner rankings and Vault’s prestige rankings, is known for its expertise in mergers and acquisitions.

Charter Communications’ unsolicited $61 billion bid for Time Warner Cable? Yup, Wachtell is on the scene, representing Charter (with help from Kirkland & Ellis). If a deal goes through, count on an eight-figure fee for Wachtell.

And some of that lucre will trickle down to associates. Wachtell Lipton is known for gigantic bonuses, which can match (or even occasionally exceed) an associate’s base salary.[1] And it pays out bonuses in lockstep fashion, without regard to hours (unlike, say, Boies Schiller, another firm famous for its generous bonuses).[2]

How were Wachtell bonuses in 2013? Inquiring minds want to know. Alas, we don’t have the 2013 info (yet) — but here’s what we’ve heard about 2011 and 2012….

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Many good things can be said about Jenner & Block. Above the Law readers who work there give it an overall grade of A-minus. It’s a top law firm for diversity.

The firm has a long and distinguished history of pro bono work. And it’s a leader in the area of government service. Many of its lawyers used to work at the Justice Department, the White House, and other top governmental entities. And many high-ranking government lawyers, such as solicitor general Donald Verrilli Jr., used to work at Jenner.

But what if you’re less interested in public service and more interested in debt service — specifically, retiring your own substantial law school loans? Is Jenner the best place to work?

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Clients seem to be pleased with McDermott Will & Emery these days. The firm jumped up 19 places in the latest survey of best law firm brands.

And associates appear to be happy too. Bonuses for 2012 were just announced at MWE, and the general reaction is positive.

McDermott traditionally announces bonuses later than many other firms. It seems that the latest MWE bonuses were worth waiting for….

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As we recently mentioned, 2012 was a banner year for O’Melveny & Myers, in terms of legal work performed and the resulting financial rewards. According to Am Law, “the firm set new records in profits per partner and revenue per lawyer, with the former surging 19.4 percent, to $2.06 million, and the latter rising nearly 10 percent, to $1.1 million.”

O’Melveny’s gross revenue grew by 5.1 percent, to $818.5 million. It’s great to see a law firm with top-line growth. Many firms these days can’t grow total revenue or revenue per lawyer; they just try to cut expenses, resorting to layoffs and similar tactics, to improve profits per partner.

Did OMM’s improved PPP trickle down to associates, in the form of bonuses? Here’s what sources report….

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Congratulations to the 11 new partners at Akin Gump. They’re an impressive and diverse group, hailing from offices all across the country.

But not all news out of Akin is happy. Last month, for example, the firm — a perennial contender in our annual holiday card contest — failed to take top honors.

And some Akin associates feel that they got coal in their stockings this winter. Let’s check out the Akin grumps….

UPDATE (2/15/2013, 9:30 AM): Full bonus memo added after the jump.

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We’ve been hearing a fair amount of happy news out of Morrison & Foerster lately. Last month, for example, the firm announced 15 new partners — a sizable class.

“We recently made a whole slew of people partner,” said a source. “Looks like our biggest class in a few years and includes several home-grown talents.”

One happy camper even wrote in to rave about the D.C.’s office celebration of Black History Month this past Monday, which featured a conversation between Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), an icon of the civil rights movement, and Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Minority Whip.

“The event was fantastic,” this tipster told us. “Congressman Lewis stayed to chat with MoFo attorneys and staff until 9 p.m.”

But happiness is not universal at Morrison & Foerster. On the subject of associate bonuses, we’ve heard from a few angry MoFos….

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Everything’s humming along nicely at Bingham McCutchen. The firm just named 13 new partners, up from nine partners last year. The firm was once again honored by Fortune magazine as a best company to work for (which marks the ninth straight year, for those of you who are counting).

And the firm just announced its bonuses, both ordinary and “extraordinary.” Let’s see the numbers….

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With a few exceptions (including a situation that was remedied), Biglaw associates were fairly happy with their bonuses for 2012. This was largely due to Cravath setting a solid scale for the market.

But happiness is not universal. We’ve heard from several sources who are unhappy with the payouts over at Arnold & Porter. Let’s see what all the fuss is about….

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As we mentioned earlier today, bonuses are out at Latham & Watkins. The announcement came out yesterday.

And that’s basically the only thing our Latham sources can agree upon. Reactions to the LW bonuses varied greatly.

Let’s check out the numbers and see what our sources have to say….

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We’re in the middle of what we previously referred to as the second wave of law firm bonus announcements. Later today, for example, we’ll write about the Latham & Watkins announcement from yesterday. (So far we’re hearing mixed things; if you’re at Latham and would like to opine on the bonuses, feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).)

Right now we’re going to discuss the bonuses announced at Goodwin Procter (which actually just hired a partner, Brynn Peltz, away from Latham). The Goodwin bonus announcement came out on Tuesday of this week.

So what do 2012 bonuses at Goodwin Procter look like?

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