Law Firms

Why is BigLaw delaying bonus announcements?

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Updated: After Cravath, Swaine & Moore announced year-end bonuses of up to $115,000 for associates Nov. 22, a handful of law firms quickly chimed in.

The law firms said they, too, would pay the Cravath scale. Some even added a sweetener for higher-billing lawyers.

Since then, however, things have been relatively quiet on the bonus front. Above the Law offered a reason for the “bonus backlog”: The law firms are likely waiting on Davis Polk & Wardwell in anticipation that it will announce “a bigger, better bonus scale.”

“If that’s the case (and we’re almost certain that it is), then why not just announce bonuses on the current Cravath scale now, and match the new scale later?” Above the Law asked. “Why keep your incredibly hard-working associates waiting? Boo-hoo, you’ll have to write a second bonus memo with a second match. You can do it. We believe in you!”

By late afternoon Dec. 2, only two more BigLaw firms had announced bonuses, according to Above the Law. They were DLA Piper and Mayer Brown.

Both are matching the Cravath scale. DLA Piper will pay even more to associates who make greater contributions as determined by billable hours and performance evaluations.

Here is the Cravath schedule, as reported by Above the Law:

• 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

Above the Law is keeping track of bonus announcements at its online tracker here.

Updated Dec. 2 at 3:50 p.m. to add DLA Piper and Mayer Brown to the list of firms that have announced bonuses.

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