Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

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How will bonuses compare to last year?

Up
21
22%
Same
66
68%
Down
10
10%
 
Total votes: 97

Anonymous User
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Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:05 am

Since TLS continues to style on ATL, thought I would start this thread to continue the trend: bonuses.

Any rumors, predictions, perspectives, or thoughts on what your firm will do?

My contribution: At a V10 and we had a good year. But we're not a market leader so it really hinges on what Cravath does. Either way, I think we should walk away with at least as much this year as we did last year... (accounting for class year upgrades)

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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:37 am

Just curious: what'd the bonuses look like last year? At least entry-level associate

Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Just curious: what'd the bonuses look like last year? At least entry-level associate


$10k for first years at Cravath (and scale is on ATL...).

I don't know how other firms except my own handled. Some have high hours thresholds for bonuses, others have below-market bonuses, etc. Partly why I made the thread.

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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:14 am

Up, probably at least 12.5K for first years and maybe 15K. At a top NYC firm and it's been busy enough that flat bonuses would be a kick in the teeth.

For context, a first year associate starting in 2008/2009 made something like $160,000 first year and got a bonus around $30,000. We're not back to boom times, but inflation hasn't been zero and law school tuition sure as hell hasn't either. PPP (or whatever smoke screen bullshit PPP that gets reported) has been growing and firms have had an opportunity to correct hiring, so there's really no excuse for a mediocre bonus season and probably a decent amount of pressure. One of these days associates will grumble about the starting salary, but it'd be a hell of a lot cheaper to just trickle out end of year bonuses (which will also insulate firms more than higher base salaries in the event of another crash) so I imagine we'll probably see them tick up steadily even if we don't return to boom-times.

I think STB has had a great year so I wouldn't be surprised if they try to take a shot across the bow on bonuses.

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mephistopheles
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby mephistopheles » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:39 am

when are we going to see 190k?

itbdvorm
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby itbdvorm » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:12 pm

mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.

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Old Gregg
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Old Gregg » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:34 pm

itbdvorm wrote:
mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


My thoughts too.

it's been busy enough that flat bonuses would be a kick in the teeth.


Welcome to biglaw life after the economic crisis.

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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:56 pm

I'll be working in biglaw (500+) for the firm's home office, which is in a secondary market. Anyone have any insight on how bonuses might work for this kind of firm? Do they typically give out bonuses at all? I realize the answer to this is firm-specific, but I'd like to hear some general thoughts if possible.

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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'll be working in biglaw (500+) for the firm's home office, which is in a secondary market. Anyone have any insight on how bonuses might work for this kind of firm? Do they typically give out bonuses at all? I realize the answer to this is firm-specific, but I'd like to hear some general thoughts if possible.

Outside of the "lockstep" firms (usually at the top of the Vault rankings), bonuses are usually more secretive and discretionary. Each firm is different. You might be able to get information on yours from online sources (Chambers Associate, Vault.com commentary, TLS, ATL, AutoAdmit, etc.). Otherwise, you'll just have to wait until you can ask current associates.

From my observations (at my own firm and from talking to friends at other firms), these firms generally have an unwritten hours cutoff for bonus eligibility, sometimes 100 or 200 hours above the 2000 minimum. Bonuses may be a set amount for everyone, or dependent on class year, hours, and/or other factors. These factors may change year-to-year based on the firm's financial performance. Basically it's a black box. Usually bonuses at these firms are less than what associates get at lockstep firms.

dj_roomba
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby dj_roomba » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:07 pm

Is there a website where they list compensation for all firms? I know there's an outdated one here somewhere but any recent ones?

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ph14
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ph14 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:33 pm

I'm guessing pretty similar to last years bonus. I'd be surprised if it was significantly higher, and also surprised if they were lower.

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NinerFan
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby NinerFan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:51 pm

Bonuses will be flat or negligibly higher (a little higher at the senior levels, perhaps). Sucks for people whose firms follow Cravath lockstep.

WhirledWorld
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby WhirledWorld » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:05 pm

Post-Recession Bonuses

2009 Bonus Scale:

Class of 2008 — $7,500
Class of 2007 — $10,000
Class of 2006 — $15,000
Class of 2005 — $20,000
Class of 2004 — $25,000
Class of 2003 — $30,000
Class of 2002 — $30,000

2010 Bonus Scale:

Class of 2009 – $7,500
Class of 2008 — $10,000
Class of 2007 — $15,000
Class of 2006 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $25,000
Class of 2004 — $30,000
Class of 2003 — $35,000

2011 Bonus Scale:

Class of 2010 — $7,500
Class of 2009 — $10,000
Class of 2008 — $15,000
Class of 2007 — $20,000
Class of 2006 — $25,000
Class of 2005 — $30,000
Class of 2004 — $37,500

2012 Bonus Scale:

Class of 2012 — $10,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2011 — $10,000
Class of 2010 — $14,000
Class of 2009 — $20,000
Class of 2008 — $27,000
Class of 2007 — $34,000
Class of 2006 — $40,000
Class of 2005 — $50,000
Class of 2004 — $60,000

Overall CAGR for the four years is between 7-8%.

If we assume they'll stick to the same growth rate, bonuses will be up by like $1000. If we assume they'll continue the increase from last year, bonuses will jump up a few thousand dollars. And if we assume that last year was just a one year correction to account for the increased PPP, bonuses will probably stay the same.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:35 am

itbdvorm wrote:
mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


Ran here to poast this, although I would change the first line I "never."

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mephistopheles
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby mephistopheles » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:36 am

Big Shrimpin wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


Ran here to poast this, although I would change the first line I "never."



:?

ipguy
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ipguy » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:10 am

Big Shrimpin wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


Ran here to poast this, although I would change the first line I "never."


Makes zero sense. Do you think inflation is going away? *never* would be the stupidest word to put in there.

Now, if you said "adjusted for inflation, they will never reach the equivalent of 190k in 2013 dollars" or something, then you might be on to something.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Big Shrimpin » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:58 pm

ipguy wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
mephistopheles wrote:when are we going to see 190k?


not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


Ran here to poast this, although I would change the first line I "never."


Makes zero sense. Do you think inflation is going away? *never* would be the stupidest word to put in there.

Now, if you said "adjusted for inflation, they will never reach the equivalent of 190k in 2013 dollars" or something, then you might be on to something.


You seem dumb.

ipguy
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ipguy » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:14 pm

Big Shrimpin wrote:
ipguy wrote:
Big Shrimpin wrote:
itbdvorm wrote:
not for a very long time

bonuses will be flat. sorry guys.


Ran here to poast this, although I would change the first line I "never."


Makes zero sense. Do you think inflation is going away? *never* would be the stupidest word to put in there.

Now, if you said "adjusted for inflation, they will never reach the equivalent of 190k in 2013 dollars" or something, then you might be on to something.


You seem dumb.


Flawless logic there captain. Perhaps you're destined to say working with Bubba? You seem dumb if you think that salaries will never reach $190k (LinkRemoved).

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Anonymous User
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:22 pm

New associates usually start in October or September, so when you say 1st year, do you mean firms give bonuses for working a couple of months or they give a bonus for the first full year of work to 2nd year associates?

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ph14
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ph14 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:New associates usually start in October or September, so when you say 1st year, do you mean firms give bonuses for working a couple of months or they give a bonus for the first full year of work to 2nd year associates?


I think some firms give prorated bonus for stub-year associates. The "first year" bonus they list on the lockstep list is for the first full year of employment.

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thesealocust
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby thesealocust » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:49 pm

"first years" are first years for compensation, bonus, etc. for the stub year plus the full 12 calendar months afterward. It varies year to year and firm to firm whether first years get any kind of pro-rated bonus during the "stub" in the fall, and in the full year after they're once again treated as first years.

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Big Shrimpin
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby Big Shrimpin » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:52 pm

Actually, 2nd year biglaw assoc. The business model has changed, partners are more greedy and clients have become much tighter on budgets and tend to micromanage. I don't have time to argue because I have been writing briefs all week, but the cash flow from clients isn't the unattended faucet it used to be. In house counsel scrutinizes bills, doesn't approve strategy lines, etc. And where revenues are creeping up, partners are grabbing more of the take. Throw on top of that discovery solutions services and case management outsourcing, the industry is moving, if in any direction, away from tossing extra coin to increased salaries for associates. Fuck, I mean much of the rapid increase in the mid-2000s was a big game of keeping up with the joneses. And the firms that have raised salaries are boutiques that provide special services or premium talent. Moreover, Lots of the grunt work 1-3rd years do can be farmed out to drones in a factory in WV or some other state where people are named "Bubba" making 80k/yr.

I was being hyperbolic by saying "never," but hoping for 190 in the near future, much less expecting it, is a fucking fool's errand.

Then again, if I'm wrong, I'll just be 30K or so richer bitches.

Edited for iPhone typos because I'm poasting from the can while I procrastinate working at 9PM on a Thursday when all of my friends are out getting drunk at HHs like normal human beings.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:03 pm

^

This is pretty spot on. I'm really confused why people would think biglaw bonuses would go up this year. My impression is that revenue at firms has stayed about the same (at best), there are still a shitload of new law grads (WAY more than necessary to fill biglaw summer classes) being pumped out by top law schools every year, and partners are becoming greedier and greedier by the hour.

09042014
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby 09042014 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:08 pm

Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:^

This is pretty spot on. I'm really confused why people would think biglaw bonuses would go up this year. My impression is that revenue at firms has stayed about the same (at best), there are still a shitload of new law grads (WAY more than necessary to fill biglaw summer classes) being pumped out by top law schools every year, and partners are becoming greedier and greedier by the hour.


I'd imagine overall profitability is only somewhat related to bonuses. I'd bet the lateral market has more to do with it.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: Biglaw Bonus Watch (2013)

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:11 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
Biglaw_Associate_V20 wrote:^

This is pretty spot on. I'm really confused why people would think biglaw bonuses would go up this year. My impression is that revenue at firms has stayed about the same (at best), there are still a shitload of new law grads (WAY more than necessary to fill biglaw summer classes) being pumped out by top law schools every year, and partners are becoming greedier and greedier by the hour.


I'd imagine overall profitability is only somewhat related to bonuses. I'd bet the lateral market has more to do with it.


If all (or almost all) firms match Cravath bonuses, they aren't using bonuses to compete in the lateral market, no? I mean, I guess they are competing with in house departments, govt jobs, etc.?




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