Here’s some very belated bonus news. Earlier this month, the New York office of Linklaters announced bonuses that matched the Cravath scale.

As usual at Linklaters, there was no hours requirement. The news was communicated via individual memo.

A Cravath match, especially in a bonus season when some firms are paying significantly more, kinda sucks isn’t that exciting. A Cravath bonus won’t get a Linklaters associate a pad as palatial as that of Linklaters partner Michael Bassett. Heck, $35K — the top of the Cravath scale — probably won’t even cover the cost of Bassett’s wallpaper.

But we’ll point out two nice things about Linklaters, both relating to tax issues….

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(But at least it has the gay gross-up.)”

This is just coming into the ATL inbox, but it appears that Sullivan & Cromwell has announced bonuses that will essentially match the Cravath bonus scale.

“Essentially,” because there are a few interesting caveats: people in the class of 2003 will get $37,500 — i.e., $2,500 more than the Cravath class of 2003 — and our tipsters say there is language in the memo suggesting that S&C might pay a spring bonus next year. (You’ll remember that S&C did not pay out spring bonuses this year.)

UPDATE (1:07 PM): In addition, people in the class of 2002 will get $42,500. The spring bonuses will depend on the firm’s performance.

UPDATE (1/21/11): Read about the S&C spring 2011 bonuses over here.

If you have more information (or the memo), please send us an email at [email protected], or a text message at 646-820-TIPS.

In the meantime, this news looks like a compromise between the conflicting SullCrom factions we reported on last week

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And another one bites the dust. Simpson Thacher just announced associate bonuses, and they’re using the Cravath scale.

Here is one source’s concise communication: “Simpson Thacher bonus memo just released — matching Cravath. A**holes.” Says a second: “I feel like I got punched in the gut.” From a third: “People here are livid. Can’t believe they announced a month later than normal and matched. What BS.”

Another top firm matching Cravath? Honestly, it doesn’t sound shocking.

But the Simpson match might be slightly more newsworthy than the recent Cravath matches by Davis Polk, Cleary, and Debevoise. Here’s why….

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Are we really going to live in a world where the firms that consistently rank highest on the Vault surveys are paying a smaller bonus than the firms just one tier down? Are we really going to live in a world where partnerships at Cravath, Skadden, and Davis Polk are paying smaller bonuses to many of their people than Kirkland, Sidley, and Cahill?

Perhaps so. Cleary Gottlieb just announced its bonus scale, and the firm is doing its part to keep the associate bonus market as low as possible. It’s a straight match of Cravath….

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Partners are calling Kirkland & Ellis associates right now and letting them know about their 2010 bonuses. The early reports we are getting are positive — very positive. Thus far, the people we’ve heard from are getting more, often substantially more, than their class-year counterparts at Cravath.

Exactly how much more? That really depends. Kirkland has an individualized bonus structure that takes into account an associate’s seniority, hours worked, and performance rating (e.g., “with class,” “above class,” etc.). The folks we’ve heard from so far have been quite happy (although we’re guessing bonus laggards at K&E will be less quick to come forward).

While Kirkland can try to hide its generosity from public scrutiny, this is why God invented crowdsourcing. Please share your bonus numbers (or approximations thereof) over email or in the comments. We’re especially interested in hearing from people who have knowledge of the bigger picture (i.e., not just knowledge of their own individual bonuses, but the K&E bonus distribution more generally).

UPDATE: After the jump, we’ve added SEVERAL UPDATES about the overall distribution of Kirkland bonuses.

We’ll get you started with news from our tipsters…

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In addition to the bonus announcement of Quinn Emanuel, late last week brought bonus news from the New York office of Mayer Brown. But the MB announcement was considerably less interesting.

It was essentially a match of the Cravath bonus scheme, but with a slight twist….

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CHECK YOU EMAIL — for some happy bonus news. On Friday, litigation powerhouse Quinn Emanuel announced its 2010 bonus schedule. And it was good.

It’s a little more complex than the standard bonus scale at a lockstep firm. As in years past, Quinn Emanuel bonuses reflect a combination of seniority and hours worked. But one associate provides this concise summary: “Quinn matches Cravath, plus hours increments of $5K at each hour state, plus additional 50% paid in June 2011. So this raises the bar.”

Says a second source at QE: “I’m relatively pleased. So many people are billing so many hours here (we’re swimming in work) that these bonuses will be very substantial. The reason for the June payout is pretty clearly that the firm is try to retain some associates. Our turnover is massive. Anyway, enjoy!”

So, in essence, Quinn is paying 150 percent of the widely adopted Cravath bonus scale, subject to two caveats: (1) there’s an hours requirement of 2100 hours to get the Cravath-level bonus, and (2) the additional 50 percent payment will be paid in June 2011, to associates in good standing and on pace with their hours at that time. (Think of the June payment as a retention bonus of sorts.)

Let’s take a look at the memo, which contains the fine print (such as treatment of pro bono hours), and which also mentions modest bonuses for class of 2010 members — a nice touch, considering that the “stub-year bonus” is a rare thing these days….

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There’s no denying all the good news over at Sidley Austin. The firm just named 28 new partners, up from 15 last year. It recently snagged three leading litigators from Howrey: Gary Bendinger, who served as co-chair of litigation at Howrey, and two of his partners, Gregory Ballard and Kevin Burke.

And as we reported yesterday, Sidley paid out bonuses that made some of its associates very, very happy. Some associates received bonuses that were twice the Cravath scale.

But not all Sidley associates were quite this fortunate — and we have since heard from some of them. We also have the full Sidley memo.

A more balanced view of the Sidley Austin bonuses, plus the full memo, after the jump.

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This shouldn’t come as a shock, but Debevoise & Plimpton just announced its 2010 associate bonuses, and it is matching Cravath.

With so many top firms already matching Cravath — including several in the Vault’s top ten for prestige, such as Skadden, Davis Polk, and Weil Gotshal — is it less likely that Sullivan & Cromwell will try to beat Cravath, since “peer firms” are already signaling that they’d like to just stick with the CSM scale? Or is it maybe more likely, since it would make S&C look that much better in the eyes of prospective hires to trounce multiple rivals in the compensation department?

The Debevoise memo appears after the jump.

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If we were to hold a contest for “Law Firm Whose Name Sounds Most Like That of a Drag Queen,” the clear winner would be Kaye Scholer. Just drop that first “e” to form “Kay Scholer” — doesn’t she sound fierce? Scroll through this list of drag queen names. Wouldn’t Kay Scholer fit right in?

(Hey — this sounds like a fun idea for a post. If you have an idea for a law firm whose name could inspire a drag name — e.g., Morgan Lewis, Proskauer Rose (“Rose Proskauer”), Saxena White — please put in the comments or email us, subject line “Drag Name.” If we get enough submissions, we’ll hold a contest.)

Sorry, where were we? Ah yes, Kaye Scholer. Earlier this week, the firm announced its 2010 bonus schedule.

For the most part, it’s the Cravath scale, with an hours requirement (1950 hours, 1800 billable). But associates who go over 2400 hours (2250 billable) will find something extra in their stockings this year….

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