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’s definitely a good Friday over at Akin Gump. The firm just announced spring bonuses.
Better late than never. We’ve been receiving complaints from financially achin’ Akin associates for weeks. Earlier this month, for example, one Akin Gump lawyer complained about the firm not paying spring bonuses despite robust profits in 2010 (profit per partner of $1.6 million, compared to 2009′s $1.5 million).
So Akin Gump partners had a good year in 2010, and now they’re spreading the wealth. Let’s take a look at what they’re doing with spring bonuses….
Personally, I think it’s time for Biglaw associates in the class of 2010 to drink a tall glass of shut the hell up. They got jobs at a time when many of their classmates did not. They received $160K salaries just after there was a significant effort by some firms to push starting salaries down to $145K. Most of them got to start sometime in 2010… in the same year many of the people in the class of 2009 got to start. And, as far as we know, none of them have been Lathamed and had their careers aborted before they even started.
Are things as easy for the class of 2010 as they were for the class of 2006? No. But sometimes I think that the current n00bs forget that they could have been cast back down with the sodomites in the class of 2009.
But, that’s just me. And I’m old and irritable and have lost sight of the youthful exuberance that makes a person sing “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.” It turns out that first-year associates don’t want to wait until they mature into a class worthy of a full bonus at the end of 2011. They want whatever bonus money they can get out of 2010, and they are angry at the firms that are not paying up.
The Cravath-level spring bonus for the class of 2010 is only $2,500 at the firms that are paying spring bonuses to first years. And so we have two disgruntled groups: people who work at firms not paying a spring bonus to first years, and people who feel the $2.5K is “illusory” because it’s prorated based on when the associate started at the firm.
In an earlier round-up on spring bonus stragglers, we talked about Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis, and Quinn Emanuel. Latham and Kirkland made spring bonus announcements a short while after our post, and now Quinn Emanuel is following suit.
Actually, not “following” — depending on how hard they work, QE associates can beat the market quite handily (as defined by Cravath). Quinn’s bonus structure always has significant escalators for high billable hours, and it’s no different with spring midyear bonuses.
Associates at Quinn who hit 2000 hours will get Cravath-level midyear bonuses. Associates at Quinn who hit 2100 hours will make as much in total bonus money, regular plus midyear, as their counterparts at Cravath. Quinn associates who bill over this mark will take home even more than their Cravath counterparts.
And, ye gods, QE associates can hit some ridiculous billable hour targets if they want to make the most of their time at Quinn….
On Friday, the firm of Mayer Brown announced supplemental bonuses for its U.S.-based associates (a few hours before Quinn Emanuel, which we’ll write up on Monday; we try to limit weekend writing because so few of you are around to read it).
What’s going on over at Orrick? Spring bonuses, that’s what — but with a twist.
As we’ve noted before, Orrick remains committed to merit-based compensation, even though some other firms that started moving away from lockstep have returned to it. Orrick’s approach to spring bonuses reflects the meritocratic orientation of its compensation.
You know associates are pissed when they end their emails to Above the Law with lines like this one, from a message we received last night:
NO ONE SHOULD COME HERE. EVERYONE HERE SHOULD LEAVE.
Jacob Riis photographs associates at one Biglaw firm
That’s what happens when you tell your associates that they’re going to get paid significantly below market and like it.
Several firms have not yet announced spring bonuses, and associates at these firms are annoyed. But there are only a handful of Biglaw firms that cut associate salaries back during the recession and have not yet brought their people back to market-level base compensation.
One of the firms that is lagging behind the rest of the market had an “all associates” conference call yesterday, during which management tried to explain why associates were being underpaid and undervalued by the firm.
Over the past few weeks, as springtime bonus news trickled in, we heard from a few associates at Bingham McCutchen. The exact wording varied, but their messages all sounded the same theme: Shouldn’t one of the best places to work offer one of the best pay packages? Or at least a pay package consistent with Biglaw market rates?
One reader had this suggestion: “Can you guys keep a running list of firms that paid spring bonuses and firms that haven’t? Preferably alphabetical, so Bingham is near the top of the no-pay list.”
Well, happily, no such shame sanctions will be necessary. Bingham has jumped into the spring bonus pool. Let’s see what they’re offering….
Let’s all take a deep breath. Associate bonus season, which usually wraps up sometime in January, looks like it’s been extended well into April. This is just more proof that Biglaw firms don’t actually collude. No rational business person would want to be making decisions in April 2011 about how much to pay employees for 2010 performance.
For those trying to keep score, there seem to be the following categories of firms (roughly using a letter-grade system):
A – Firms that are paying Cravath-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: Cravath.) [FN1]
B – Firms that are paying Sullivan & Cromwell-level spring bonuses in all offices. (Example: S&C.)
C – Firms that are paying spring bonuses in New York but not elsewhere, like California or D.C.. (Example: Read more below.)
D – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses because their year-end bonuses beat the Cravath year-end bonuses, and they’re hoping their associates can’t add. (Example: CHECK YOUQUINN EMANUEL.)
F – Firms that are not paying spring bonuses and invite disgruntled associates to S some D if they don’t like it. (Example: Jones “We can still hear all the poors who live inside your black box” Day.)
Right now, we want to focus on Group C. Group B gets a pass because they started the spring bonus phenomenon and goddamnit we’re going to respect that. Partners at firms in Groups D & F will have to examine their own motives for why they want their associates to secretly hate them.
But Group C is weird. Why create inter-office jealousy and rage when most top firms are paying spring bonuses in all of their offices? Why look that desperate to save a little bit of money?
And you can’t spell “Weird Cost-Cutting” without White & Case…
Wow, it’s like White & Case’s attempt to glom on to the spring bonus trend just ticked off these other firms. First Sidley and now Morrison & Foerster have come out with real spring bonus announcements, detailing the amount of money associates can expect to get paid.
We’re running off to the We Know What You Should Do This Summer filming, so we can’t give you the full MoFo treatment. But it’s not that shocking that since O’Melveny, Latham and Gibson went with spring bonuses, MoFo kind of had to step up.
Congrats, MoFos. As one tipster put it, “Tell those bitches at GDC that Mofo makes it rain in Cali… Twenty grand, man. Plus, they gave Dude a beeper.”
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.
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: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!