Bonuses

It’s a good news, bad news kind of thing for associates at Kirkland & Ellis.

The good news: their bonuses are much better than the “scraps thrown to the troglodytes slaving away at Cravath,” according to one tipster.

The bad news: the bonuses don’t seem to be as generous as last year’s, and some associates made less in real dollars this year than last year, despite billing the same amount of hours and being a year more senior.

So not everybody at Kirkland is happy, which is weird because usually K&E gives its people happy juice before they talk to anybody.

Of course, when your firm uses Cravath as a baseline for your bonuses, happiness is a relative term….

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As we mentioned last month, the downtown law firm of Cahill Gordon got hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Weeks after the hurricane, lawyers and staff at Cahill are still working out of temporary space. We hear that they’ll be moving back to their normal office space in January.

But no natural disaster can stop money from raining down on Cahill associates. The firm just announced “special” bonuses that will be paid this month, in advance of usual year-end bonuses in January. And who knows — if all goes well, maybe the firm will pay summer bonuses in 2013, as it did in July 2012.

So how much is Cahill paying out this month, in advance of Cravath-level bonuses in January?

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We’re tempted to do what we proposed last year regarding Sidley Austin bonuses, by simply writing: “Sidley bonuses are out. The scale is not transparent, so some people may be happy with their bonuses and others may be unhappy. Here is an open thread for you to discuss. Thank you.”

That would at least spare us from some of the criticism we’ve received for our coverage of the Sidley bonuses in recent years. In 2010, we initially wrote a very positive post, which we got criticized for by people who saw it as too positive. In 2011, we went in the other direction, reporting that Sidley’s bonuses drew yawns from associates — an assessment that drew flak for us from happy campers at Sidley (and there are many happy campers at the firm; it enjoys an A- rating from ATL readers who work there).

So we realize that covering the sensitive subject of Sidley bonuses is a bit like trying to reach a budget deal: you can’t make everyone happy, just varying degrees of unhappy. But we’ll give it our best shot….

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Even if the big lockstep New York firms are done, associate bonus news continues to roll in from around the country. For example, bonuses are out at Sidley Austin. We’re working on a story for tomorrow; feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477) with your reactions (to be used anonymously).

Today brings bonus news from Susman Godfrey. The high-powered boutique is known for high-stakes commercial litigation — and high, market-beating bonuses.

(And high-attendance holiday parties too; this year’s fête in New York drew more than 500 guests, many of them boldface names of the legal profession. As I observed on Twitter, “you could staff a great law firm with the guest list at the Susman Godfrey holiday party.”)

So how big were the Susman Godfrey bonuses this year?

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Where’s the coke?

* NALP is becoming the harbinger of doom for law practice. Here’s some cheerful news: the percentage of female associates in Biglaw dropped for the third year in a row. Perhaps they’re going the way of the Clifford Chance mommy. [National Law Journal]

* Biglaw hotties are coming to a continent near you! Davis Polk & Wardell will be adding a litigation practice to its existing shop in Hong Kong, and they managed to poach two big name Clifford Chance litigators in the process. [DealBook / New York Times]

* According to the ACC, in 2012, base salaries for general counsel rose 1.9 percent, while cash bonuses dropped 7.9 percent. But really, who’s going to complain about a six-figure bonus? [Corporate Counsel]

* A Delaware jury ruled that Apple infringed on several patents in a mobile-device technologies case filed by MobileMedia Ideas. Somewhere, Samsung’s bigwigs are laughing their asses off. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* A woman was arrested in Spain for trying to smuggle in cocaine from Colombia. Seems pretty standard, except for the fact that she was hiding the coke in brand new breast implants — three pounds of it! [CNN]

The global law firm of Clifford Chance, a member of the Magic Circle, is one of the biggest names in Biglaw. It’s the world’s #5 law firm in terms of revenue and the #3 law firm in terms of headcount. In the American Lawyer’s inaugural set of rankings for the world’s most valuable law firms, Clifford Chance came in #6. Clifford Chance is so global that it makes the Atlantic Ocean look like a pond.

Here in the United States, Clifford Chance has offices in New York and Washington. What can associates in these offices expect in terms of their bonuses this year?

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Bonus announcements continue to trickle in. Today brings bonus news from White & Case.

It’s not terribly exciting. For associates in New York, the firm is matching the Cravath scale (just as Morrison & Foerster did the other day).

When are the bonuses going to be paid? And what about associates beyond the Big Apple?

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Perhaps they were just waiting around for Sullivan & Cromwell. Not long after S&C announced bonuses, on Thursday afternoon of last week, Davis Polk announced bonuses, on Friday.

They matched the Cravath scale. Shocking, we know.

What about Morrison & Foerster? They just announced bonuses too, for associates in their New York office….

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Now that Sullivan & Cromwell has weighed in on bonuses, there’s not much suspense left regarding associate bonuses at the major New York lockstep firms. Attention will now turn to top firms with individualized bonuses, like Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins.

Most of the big New York-based firms have matched the Cravath scale. But at least one — besides Boies Schiller, home of the whopper (aka a $250,000 bonus) — is going above and beyond Cravath.

At Kaye Scholer, high billers get something extra stuffed in their stockings. How much are we talking about?

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Parking is sooooo hard.

* “Biglaw Bonuses for Dummies: A Reference for the Rest of Us!” By Elie Mystal. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Just how quickly will state-by-state legal education be able to respond to changing market conditions? Thus far, both New York and California have proven themselves to be pretty damn nimble. [Legal Ethics Forum]

* Here’s a cute docket sheet entry from Judge Marcia Cooke in the Southern District of Florida. Thanks for not being a grinch this holiday season, Your Honor! [Southern District of Florida Blog]

* A town in Germany has started using “female friendly” parking spaces, because parking a car is just so hard for we womenfolk to do when we’re supposed to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. :( [Telegraph]

* Hiram Chodosh, once named as a law dean hottie, has been named the fifth president of Claremont McKenna College. Of course, the former title is cooler than the latter, don’t you think? [Sacramento Bee]

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