Bonus

This is the latest in a new series of ATL infographics — visual representations of our own proprietary data, relevant third-party data, “anecdata,” or just plain jokes. This infographic is brought to you by our friends at Prestige Legal Search. Earn another $5,000 to $50,000 with their Rewards Program.

For the most part, Biglaw associate bonuses remain stuck at last year’s levels, reflecting expectations that firm profits will be flat at best. This might seem fair, with everyone feeling the pinch of the “New Normal” and so on. But when we take a small step back and see how these bonus numbers compare as a percentage of partner profits to the bonuses of just a few years ago, these bonuses are arguably pretty measly.

The current $10,000 “market” (i.e., Cravath-following) rate for first-years is just 0.29% of Cravath’s profits per partner (according to the American Lawyer). Back in 2007, first-year bonuses equaled 1.36% of PPP. In other words, the Cravath partnership was nearly five times more generous to its associates back then.

Obviously, Cravath is among the most profitable firms in the world. What are the implications of matching Cravath’s bonus scale for those firms with much lower profit margins? Today’s infographic takes a look at how big a hit to PPP partners willingly take in order to Keep Up With The Cravathians….

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After yesterday’s excitement over the Boies Schiller bonuses, we’re back to the Cravath scale. Today Weil Gotshal came out with its year-end bonuses. The firm is matching Cravath.

Our sources report the Weil scale starts at $7,500 for full first-year associates — no stub-year bonus for the class of 2011, like at Milbank — and tops out $37,500.

UPDATE (12/15/11): Weil just announced that it will pay $42,500 to its most-senior associates, in accordance with the Sullivan & Cromwell bonus scale. Memo below.

Actually, for Weil associates this “match” could be even worse than last year’s bonuses. That’s because Weil followed through on its promise to phase out extra cash for top performers….

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Last year, on November 17th, I asked where the Biglaw bonuses were. Cravath announced five days later.

So if the firms are waiting for a personal invitation to announce their 2011 bonus payments, they should feel free to RSVP to this post. We’re ready for the bonuses now.

The firms aren’t scared, are they? They’re not worried about Occupy Wall Street protesters objecting to mere five-figure bonus news, are they? Haven’t the Occupy people proven that they aren’t even paying attention to the Wall Street lawyers?

So let’s get on with the process of spreading the wealth around Biglaw….

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