Richard Schirtzer

It looks like 2013 was another strong year for the litigation powerhouse of Quinn Emanuel. The firm continued to rack up victories for clients around the world. It opened offices in Sydney and Hong Kong. It landed a major mass-torts group from Skadden. And it named a whopping 13 new partners.

(One of those new partners is Jordan Goldstein, who makes a cameo in the recent New York Times obituary of noted pornography publisher Al Goldstein: “After his son, Jordan, disinvited him to his graduation from Harvard Law School, Mr. Goldstein published doctored photos showing Jordan having sex with various men and with his own mother, Mr. Goldstein’s third ex-wife, Gena.” Charming.)

Given the continued success of Quinn Emanuel, it seems that some associates were hoping for better bonuses. Let’s hear what they have to say….

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Merry Christmas, Quinn Emanuel billers.

Yesterday, we talked about the Quinn Emanuel bonuses. Many associates were angry, especially those who had billed a lot of hours in 2012. For some of those top billers, their bonuses were smaller than the same amount of work was worth last year.

Well, advocate and thou shalt receive. Quinn Emanuel just sent around a memo announcing that it will be increasing the top-end payments, to bring them in line with last year…

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It seems that founding partner John Quinn isn’t the only one at Quinn Emanuel with a surplus of Benjamins right about now. On Friday, the litigation powerhouse announced its 2011 year-end bonus scale — and, for the most part, it’s more generous than the benchmark Cravath bonus scale.

We say “for the most part” because, for associates billing under 2100 hours, the scale is below Cravath — but just slightly. And it’s our understanding that not many QE associates bill less than 2100 hours anyway.

Let’s take a look at the details….

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At large law firms around the country, associates and counsel are eagerly awaiting their bonuses. But partners and chief financial officers have their minds on other things: namely, collections. The fourth quarter is when firms step up their efforts at shaking down clients for cash.

As we all know from the law-and-economics reasoning that was taught to us in law school, people — yes, this includes lawyers — respond to incentives. At one leading law firm, bonus anxiety is being shrewdly harnessed in service of collections efforts.

CHECK YOU TIME SHEETS….

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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….

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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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