Law Firms

Cravath announces bonuses that repeat last year's amounts; other firms follow suit

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Year-end bonus season for BigLaw associates began Monday when Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced bonuses of up to $100,000.

The bonuses don’t differ from amounts in the last few years, report and Above the Law, which broke the news. Absent extraordinary circumstances, all associates will get the full bonus, without the need to satisfy billable-hour requirements, according to the memo posted by Above the Law.

Here is the bonus schedule:

• Class of 2017 — $15,000 (prorated)

• Class of 2016 — $15,000

• Class of 2015 — $25,000

• Class of 2014 — $50,000

• Class of 2013 — $65,000

• Class of 2012 — $80,000

• Class of 2011 — $90,000

• Class of 2010 — $100,000

• Class of 2009 — $100,000

Two other firms quickly followed with announcements that they will match the bonuses. They are, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Above the Law has stories on bonus announcements at this page.

Since the announcement, additional firms have announced they will follow the Cravath scale, according to Above the Law.

They are: Simpson Thacher; Debevoise & Plimpton; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Weil, Gotshal & Manges (to be paid in January); Skadden (which sent individual memos but appeared to be following the scale); Norton Rose Fulbright (to be paid in January, reportedly with a billable requirement); Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (to be paid in February; firm will pay 120 percent of the scale to those who bill 2,200 or more hours); Proskauer Rose; Linklaters (for U.S. associates); Dechert (reportedly with a 1,950-hour billable requirement that includes pro bono); Clifford Chance; Shearman & Sterling; Covington & Burling (to be paid by the end of January); boutique firm Kaplan & Company; Winston & Strawn (with possibly higher bonuses for those who substantially exceed 2,000 billable hours); Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Freshfields (for U.S. associates in New York City and Washington, D.C.); Allen & Overy; and Davis Polk & Wardwell. reached out to some firms that had billable-hour requirements. Norton Rose Fulbright told the publication there were “inaccuracies” in the Above the Law report, but didn’t give specifics. The firm said in a statement that it also considers nonbillable hour work in its calculation.

“In addition to hour-based bonuses, our associate compensation program includes a significant discretionary bonus component to encourage and acknowledge important non-billable activities, such as client development and pro bono activities,” Norton Rose Fulbright said in the statement. “We use discretionary bonuses in conjunction with hour-based bonuses to ensure that Norton Rose Fulbright’s compensation is in line with, or exceeds, the compensation paid in each of our markets.”

Cadwalader told its payment of above-market bonuses to associates with 2,200 hours will take into account up to 200 nonbillable hours for activities such as pro bono.

And tipsters from two law firms tell Above the Law that their firms are making health insurance more costly even as they matched the Cravath bonuses.

Updated on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to include bonuses paid by additional law firms.

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