Money

Bonuses have just been announced at Paul Weiss. The firm is matching what we’ll call the Cleary Gottlieb scale, which seems to be the most generous bonus schedule among the main-line law firms (i.e., excluding outliers like Boies Schiller and Wachtell Lipton).

The Cleary scale provides for (1) prorated bonuses for class of 2011 members and (2) a top payment of $42,500 for the most-senior lawyers (class of 2003 on up). We’re calling it the “Cleary scale” because some firms that pay a stub bonus to the class of 2011 top out at $37,500 (e.g., Milbank), and some firms that go all the way up to $42,500 don’t pay stub bonuses (e.g., Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher).

(These are some pretty fine — and minor — distinctions. As Elie just grumpily remarked to me, “Remember when setting the market involved making it rain instead of figuring out if any pee got on the toilet seat?”)

In any event, it’s nice that Paul Weiss is taking care of its people at both the top and bottom of the seniority scale. Let’s look at the memo….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Paul Weiss Matches”

Usually, firms with main offices outside of Manhattan let the New York bonus market settle down a little bit before jumping into the fray. D.C., Chicago, Boston, and even L.A. — they all tend to allow New York to sort itself out before raising the hopes and dreams of people who aren’t paying NYC prices.

Not this year.

Ropes & Gray is jumping right into the middle of the bonus battle. For first and second year associates, they’ll be following the early payouts from Cravath and S&C. But further up the scale, where CSM and S&C diverge, Ropes & Gray is… not taking a position.

Yeah, Ropes wants to do its part to lock in the low bonuses for junior people, but for more senior people it’ll do it on a case-by-case basis….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Ropes & Gray Gets Boston Off to an Early Start”

The pulchritudinous law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell just announced its year-end bonuses. Are they as hot as DPW attorneys?

Apparently not. One of the sources who sent it our way had this one-word summary: “Ugh.” Said a second: “Bummed but not surprised.”

The Davis Polk bonus scale matches the Sullivan & Cromwell scale. It starts at $7,500 for the class of 2010 and tops out at $42,500 for the class of 2003 and more senior.

Is there a stub bonus for the class of 2011? What about mention of spring bonuses?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Davis Polk Matches”

Tom Wallerstein

Success in Biglaw often is measured by the size of an attorney’s “book of business.” Not surprisingly, having a book of business is also the best way to ensure the success of a private practice. The bigger the book, the greater your exit options. So whether your goal is to make partner or to open your own firm, everyone knows that the key is to develop a book of business.

That is easy to say, but virtually impossible to do in a big firm setting. Many big firms handle only matters in which the amount at stake is in the millions of dollars. This means that the prospect of an associate landing such a case is slim; a client would never entrust a multi-million dollar dispute to an un-tested associate. Associates are told to attend networking events, but what is the prospect of meeting someone who just so happens to have a ten million dollar dispute laying around, and who has not yet staffed the matter, and who is willing to entrust the matter to a junior associate he just met?

Once upon a time, mentoring relationships were strong, and firms were loyal to their associates. A loyal associate could hope that the partner for whom he or she worked would encourage clients to develop a relationship with the associate and allow the associate to claim ownership of future engagements from that client. If nothing else, a loyal associate could expect to inherit clients from a retiring partner.

Alas, the traditional method of building a book of business no longer works for most associates. Firms now sometimes go so far as to actively discourage associates from forming too-strong relationships with clients, lest the associate leave and take the client with them. And even if an associate is fortunate enough to get client contact, clients are likely to develop loyalties to the partner on the matter, even if the associate is doing most of the work. Unfortunately, just because you do good work doesn’t mean that over time you will magically develop that elusive book of business.

To make matters worse, it’s often impossible to predict future business, especially for litigators. If a client hires you for a patent dispute and pays you $1 million in fees in 2011 before the case settles, does that mean you have a $1 million book of business, even if you have no reason to expect any business from that client in 2012? How can you guarantee repeat business from any client, especially in litigation? Do you need a three or five year average? Those are long time frames for associates.

With all these challenges, how can an associate ever hope to make the rain they will need if they want to open their own firm?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Looks Like Rain”

This is my least favorite post to write every year. The Debevoise & Plimpton bonuses were just announced. So now it’s time for me to sit back and marvel at how much money I personally left on the table when I decided to quit Debevoise what feels like a lifetime ago.

In fact, the very first time I can remember hearing about the website “Above the Law” was when a person sitting next to me in a cubicle at the New York Press said: “Jesus Elie, your old firm just paid twice as much in bonus than we’ll make this year. It’s all over this Above the Law site.”

Ah, but it’s not like that this year. This year, Debevoise is just matching the S&C bonuses that aren’t overly impressive. Bottom rail on top now, mister….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Debevoise and Plimpton Matches S&C”

The floodgates are open and we are awash in bonus news. Sources are reporting that Simpson Thacher and Cleary Gottlieb are both matching the Sullivan & Cromwell bonus scale.

That means a little extra money for those at the very top of the scale.

But does it mean spring bonuses?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Simpson Thacher and Cleary Matching S&C”

Read carefully, because Kaye Scholer is hoping you won’t.

Last night, Kaye Scholer announced a match of the Cravath bonus scale from this season. And a match of the Cravath spring bonus from last season. But that has nothing to do with 2012 spring bonuses, which Sullivan & Cromwell alluded to last night. So even as Kaye Scholer associates are being “made whole” from the firm’s cheap stance on the last bonus season, it looks like they’re already starting this bonus season in the hole.

Keeping you updated about the latest bonus shenanigans is what Above the Law is here for….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Tries to Confuse By Matching Cravath’s Year-End Bonus and Last Year’s Spring Bonus”

Lat here. As Elie just predicted, Sullivan & Cromwell has shown up to Bigfoot the partnership of Cravath — sort of. It has announced a year-end bonus scale that is very similar to, but slightly better than, the Cravath bonus scale.

And, more importantly, it has promised spring bonuses. The ATL headquarters is around Soho, but we could hear the gnashing of partners’ teeth in both midtown and downtown Manhattan.

Let’s get into the specifics….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Sullivan & Cromwell ‘Beats’ Cravath — and Promises Spring Bonuses”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Weil Matches Cravath (And There’s Nothing ‘Distinguished’ About It)”

The Cornwall: home to a Cravath crib.

The venerable firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore has received a fair amount of criticism for its allegedly subpar bonuses. I’ve previously defended their payouts — in times of economic uncertainty, is paying modest bonuses to avoid later layoffs such a bad idea? — but my view has been poorly received. (For commentary castigating firms for their cheapness, please turn to my colleague, Elie Mystal.)

Partners at Cravath, where profits per partner exceeded $3 million in 2010, are definitely in the top 1 percent. But it seems that even non-partners are doing quite nicely for themselves, despite all the bonus bellyaching.

Check out the million-dollar penthouse — yay real estate porn! — of one of Cravath’s corporate lawyers. And she’s not even a partner….

UPDATE (12/12/11): We’ve gotten our hands on the floorplan, which we’ve added to the slideshow, and we’ve added additional comments about what a “practice area attorney” does at Cravath.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Cravath Cribs (Part 1)
(A non-partner’s million-dollar penthouse.)

Page 93 of 1391...899091929394959697...139