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Most of the larger law firms that announced year-end associate bonuses this week fell in line with the prevailing bonus scale.
Typically, law firms are paying bonuses ranging from $15,000 to $100,000, based on associate class year. Many are adding special bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000.
One law firm trying something different is Boies Schiller Flexner. The law firm offered associates a choice earlier this year: They could opt for market-rate bonuses (which now include the special bonuses), or they could opt for the firm’s old bonus formula that included a revenue share component. Those who adopted for the old formula “did all right for themselves,” Above the Law reports.
“A senior associate took home a $450,000 bonus this year,” according to Above the Law. “And a handful of junior associates (we’re talking 2017/2018 grads) made $200,000 bonuses! That’s more than double what they’d expect on the market scale.”
These law firms also announced bonuses this past week:
• Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, which is paying year-end bonuses at the usual scale for associates through the class of 2016, with the possibility of a supplemental bonus that is up to 20% of the base amount for high billers doing excellent work. More senior associates will receive bonuses on an individualized basis, but bonuses are expected to be as high as $140,000. (Above the Law)
• Fenwick & West, which is paying year-end and special bonuses at scale, with an hourly requirement for the year-end bonuses. There is also a sweetener of $20,000 for those billing more than 2,300 qualifying hours. The standard bonuses are based on a tier-level system, rather than seniority. In addition, the law firm is offering money for getaways or relaxation that range from $3,000 to $12,000 to those with the highest qualifying hours. (Above the Law, Law360)
• Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, paying year-end and special bonuses at scale, with performance criteria for the year-end bonus and an hourly requirement for the special bonus. (Above the Law, Law360)
• Schulte Roth & Zabel, which is paying year-end and special bonuses at scale, with an hourly requirement for both. The firm is also offering three levels of step-up bonuses for those with higher hours. Those at the lower level would take home an extra $5,000 to $15,000, while those at highest level would get an extra $15,000 to $45,000. (Above the Law)
• Sidley Austin, which is paying year-end and special bonuses at scale, with an hourly requirements for both bonuses. (Above the Law)
The typical year-end scale is:
• Class of 2020: $15,000 (prorated)
• Class of 2019: $15,000
• Class of 2018: $25,000
• Class of 2017: $50,000
• Class of 2016: $65,000
• Class of 2015: $80,000
• Class of 2014: $90,000
• Class of 2013: $100,000
The typical special bonus scale is:
• Class of 2020: $7,500 (prorated)
• Class of 2019: $7,500
• Class of 2018: $10,000
• Class of 2017: $20,000
• Class of 2016: $27,500
• Class of 2015: $32,500
• Class of 2014: $37,000
• Class of 2013: $40,000