Law Firms

Cravath is first to announce year-end associate bonuses, with more money for every class year

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Updated: Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced year-end bonuses of up to $115,000 for associates Monday, topping last year’s year-end bonuses of up to $100,000.

Cravath has “reclaimed its throne as BigLaw’s bonus leader” by being the first to announce, Above the Law reports.

“This is the first time in years that Cravath has increased the size of its bonuses across all class years,” Above the Law reports. “Everyone will see more money.”

Last year, Baker McKenzie was the first to announce bonuses. In 2019, the first was Milbank. Cravath was first in 2015 through 2018 and again in 2009 through 2013.

Here is the Cravath schedule:

• Class of 2021: $15,000 (prorated)

• Class of 2020: $20,000

• Class of 2019: $30,000

• Class of 2018: $57,500

• Class of 2017: $75,000

• Class of 2016: $90,000

• Class of 2015: $105,000

• Class of 2014: $115,000

Bonuses will be paid Dec. 17, according to a memo published by Above the Law. Bonuses require “suitable performance” but there is no billable-hour requirement for eligibility.

Cravath announced in June that it was increasing salaries for first-year associates from $190,000 to $205,000, according to Above the Law. It was among several law firms that announced associate pay increases this year, according to a chart prepared by Above the Law.

Cravath also announced in March that it was paying special bonuses ranging from $12,000 to $64,000. The scale was the same for many law firms, according to an Above the Law chart here.

Several law firms jumped on board the year-end bonus bandwagon in the days following Cravath’s announcement. Many of them are also paying previously announced special bonuses. The firms include:

• Boies Schiller Flexner, matching the Cravath scale for those working up to 2,349 creditable hours. It will pay $20,000 (prorated) to $140,000 for those working 2,350 to 2,599 hours and will pay $30,000 (prorated) to $150,000 for those working more than 2,600 hours. (Above the Law,

• Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, matching the Cravath scale but offering 120% of the amounts for those who bill 2,200 hours or more. (Above the Law, Law360)

• Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which was the first firm to match the Cravath scale. (Above the Law, Law360,

• Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, matching the Cravath scale in New York; Washington, D.C.; and London, and adding a premium for some lawyers that ranges from $2,250 to $30,000. (Above the Law)

Updated Nov. 24 at 1:15 p.m. to add firms matching the Cravath scale.

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