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….
This shouldn’t come as a shock: Skadden is paying spring bonuses. And it’s doing so on the top-of-the-market Cravath scale. Yay!
According to a memorandum sent to the Skadden Arps partnership by email this morning — before 8 a.m., so prior to the Davis Polk announcement — the firm was originally planning to match market for the most junior ($2,500) and most senior ($20,000) associate classes. As for mid-level associates, it was going to split the difference between the Cravath scale and the Sullivan & Cromwell scale: “We are planning a mid-level associate bonus range which is somewhat higher than the general pack, but not the highest levels currently announced.”
But then came the Davis Polk announcement, at around 10:30 a.m., in which DPW went with the Cravath scale. And now Skadden has too.
Did the Davis decision change the thinking at Four Times Square? Let’s look at the memos….
On Sunday, Morrison & Foerster sent around its associate bonus memo. For non-New York associates, the news is that the numbers are loosely based on the old Cravath scale, with some compression for mid-level associates. The actual bonus amount paid to any particular associate is determined based on performance factors. But in a nice show of transparency, MoFo also reported the bonus range and average bonus payment for each class year.
The numbers don’t look too bad, especially adjusting for the cost of living outside of New York City.
Inside New York City, MoFo is taking a wait-and-see approach. As we mentioned yesterday when talking about Weil, the stand-off between Cravath and Sullivan & Cromwell over spring bonuses has paralyzed the New York bonus market. For all we know, S&C is preparing to top Cravath in old-school “bonus wars” fashion.
Wisely, MoFo has decided not to get caught up in all of that drama; it’s just going to wait until New York sorts itself out. Let’s look at the memo…
You feel like the other top firms will have to match. But right now the ball is in the court of firms that are not used to being market leaders when it comes to associate compensation. These firms know they’ll have to pay top of the market compensation; they just don’t know what the top of the market is yet. Is it S&C’s bonus? Or is it Cravath’s? Nobody wants to end up like Skadden in 2008, which paid out much more in bonuses than its peer firms that year.
So right now all of these firms are kind of looking at each other, waiting for one of them to do something. According to a tipster, that’s what’s happening at Weil — they’re just desperately waiting for somebody to tell them what to do…
And here’s some additional good news. Last year, Bingham experimented with a somewhat complex “merit-lockstep” hybrid approach to associate compensation. This year, Bingham is moving back to a simpler system.
Fact: Spring bonuses have been announced at Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher, and Cleary Gottlieb.
Fact: It’s February 7th.
Fact: Skadden, Davis Polk, Weil, and Debevoise should be ashamed of themselves.
Honestly, I don’t know what the top-tier firms that haven’t announced spring bonuses think they’re doing. Do they hope that no one is watching? Everybody is watching.
You want proof? Last week, at a “state of the firm” meeting, Cadwalader announced that it is considering spring bonuses. If Cadwalader goes with spring bonuses, it puts a whole host of other firms in play for the big payout…
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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