Law Firms

Cravath announces two bonuses of up to $140K and Paul Weiss follows

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Updated: A BigLaw firm known for setting the market rate for associate bonuses announced Monday that it will pay two bonuses this year.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore will match last year’s scale for year-end bonuses, paying associates amounts that range from $15,000 to $100,000. The firm also plans to pay special bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000. Above the Law (here and here), the American Lawyer, Reuters Legal and Bloomberg Law have coverage. Above the Law obtained the bonus memos (here and here).

Cravath said associate salaries in 2021 will be the same as 2020, with amounts ranging from $190,000 to $340,000.

After Cravath’s announcement, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison announced it also would pay year-end and special bonuses that match Cravath’s amount.

This year, a different law firm—Baker McKenzie—was first to announce year-end bonuses. It is also matching last year’s bonus amounts, but it did not offer a special bonus. The firm said it will “ensure that our bonus scale matches any increases in the market should they occur.”

The 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 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

Other law firms are expected to follow in Cravath’s footsteps. “Cravath is still considered the gold standard of compensation, so we expect BigLaw to fall all over themselves to match this scale,” says Above the Law.

The prediction proved true. These law firms announced bonuses matching the going rate on Tuesday: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (paying year-end and special bonuses); Milbank (paying a year-end bonus and a special bonus that was previously announced); and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (paying year-end and special bonuses, with a possible additional $10,000 for senior associates).

On Wednesday, these law firms announced year-end bonuses at the market rate: Clifford Chance (paying year-end and special bonuses); Debevoise & Plimpton (paying year-end and previously announced special bonuses); Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (paying year-end and previously announced special bonuses); Morgan Lewis (paying year-end and special bonuses); and Ropes & Gray (paying year-end and special bonuses).

Above the Law is keeping track of bonuses here, including the law firms that have a minimum hours requirement for bonuses.

Davis Polk & Wardwell set the standard for special bonuses in September when it announced it would pay associates from $7,500 to $40,000.

Other law firms paying special bonuses at the Davis Polk scale include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Hueston Hennigan, Irell & Manella, Latham & Watkins, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Sullivan & Cromwell, Weil Gotshal & Manges and Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Cooley is paying lesser special bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

Also on Tuesday, Goodwin Procter announced it would match the Davis Polk special bonuses, but only for associates with more than 1,850 billable and other hours for fiscal 2020, Above the Law reports. Those billing below that amount will earn special bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.

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