2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation Forum

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firmapplicant2020

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2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by firmapplicant2020 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:16 pm

I'm currently clerking in federal court, and I'm trying to find information about total first-year compensation at any firms that will pay above market. I know some firms pay above-market clerkship bonuses (e.g. Quinn) and that some firms (boutiques?) pay above-market end-of-year bonuses. From reading these forums, I gather that there is substantial variance in when firms pay end-of-year bonuses and whether firms pay "stub" bonuses. And I think that Susman has a "signing bonus" that effectively bumps up the clerkship bonus.

I don't care which bucket the compensation falls into (e.g., "clerkship bonus," "salary," etc.) but am just trying to gather information about what total compensation looks like at the end of the first year for any firms that pay above market. Definitely interested in boutiques (e.g., Kaplan, Selendy, Wilkinson Walsh) but would love information about any firm that will pay above market. I don't know that I'll be in big law past the first year, which is why I'm so focused on the one year mark. And any information about conditions that attach to bonuses (e.g., from reading these forums, I gather that Quinn locks you in for two years to get the higher bonus) would also be helpful. So, basically, I'm interested in any information that will help me deduce the bottom-line dollar amount you will walk out the door with if you 1) join the firm after a clerkship and 2) leave after the first year. Thanks in advance!

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Splurgles23 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:00 pm

firmapplicant2020 wrote:I'm currently clerking in federal court, and I'm trying to find information about total first-year compensation at any firms that will pay above market. I know some firms pay above-market clerkship bonuses (e.g. Quinn) and that some firms (boutiques?) pay above-market end-of-year bonuses. From reading these forums, I gather that there is substantial variance in when firms pay end-of-year bonuses and whether firms pay "stub" bonuses. And I think that Susman has a "signing bonus" that effectively bumps up the clerkship bonus.

I don't care which bucket the compensation falls into (e.g., "clerkship bonus," "salary," etc.) but am just trying to gather information about what total compensation looks like at the end of the first year for any firms that pay above market. Definitely interested in boutiques (e.g., Kaplan, Selendy, Wilkinson Walsh) but would love information about any firm that will pay above market. I don't know that I'll be in big law past the first year, which is why I'm so focused on the one year mark. And any information about conditions that attach to bonuses (e.g., from reading these forums, I gather that Quinn locks you in for two years to get the higher bonus) would also be helpful. So, basically, I'm interested in any information that will help me deduce the bottom-line dollar amount you will walk out the door with if you 1) join the firm after a clerkship and 2) leave after the first year. Thanks in advance!
If you're looking to maximize 1 year's worth all-in comp after a clerkship in a lit shop, the clear goal should be Susman or Kellogg (or possibly some of the high variable year-end bonus firms, like BSF, but apparentnly BSF has gone down of late).

Susman offers an $80k clerkship bonus + $25k starting bonus + the year-end bonus; Kellogg offers a $175k clerkship bonus + higher base. Those two are your best bets...if you can get them, of course.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by BlackAndOrange84 » Sat Jan 04, 2020 10:09 pm

Splurgles23 wrote:
firmapplicant2020 wrote:I'm currently clerking in federal court, and I'm trying to find information about total first-year compensation at any firms that will pay above market. I know some firms pay above-market clerkship bonuses (e.g. Quinn) and that some firms (boutiques?) pay above-market end-of-year bonuses. From reading these forums, I gather that there is substantial variance in when firms pay end-of-year bonuses and whether firms pay "stub" bonuses. And I think that Susman has a "signing bonus" that effectively bumps up the clerkship bonus.

I don't care which bucket the compensation falls into (e.g., "clerkship bonus," "salary," etc.) but am just trying to gather information about what total compensation looks like at the end of the first year for any firms that pay above market. Definitely interested in boutiques (e.g., Kaplan, Selendy, Wilkinson Walsh) but would love information about any firm that will pay above market. I don't know that I'll be in big law past the first year, which is why I'm so focused on the one year mark. And any information about conditions that attach to bonuses (e.g., from reading these forums, I gather that Quinn locks you in for two years to get the higher bonus) would also be helpful. So, basically, I'm interested in any information that will help me deduce the bottom-line dollar amount you will walk out the door with if you 1) join the firm after a clerkship and 2) leave after the first year. Thanks in advance!
If you're looking to maximize 1 year's worth all-in comp after a clerkship in a lit shop, the clear goal should be Susman or Kellogg (or possibly some of the high variable year-end bonus firms, like BSF, but apparentnly BSF has gone down of late).

Susman offers an $80k clerkship bonus + $25k starting bonus + the year-end bonus; Kellogg offers a $175k clerkship bonus + higher base. Those two are your best bets...if you can get them, of course.
Susman also throws another $20k for two clerkships and will get you another $5k in salary over Cravath.

cheaptilts

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by cheaptilts » Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:07 am

my understanding is that Kellogg's bonus is paid out over the course of two years.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:25 am

Kellogg and Susman are the most reliable high-paying litigation boutiques. Other, smaller, boutiques (such as Dovel & Luner) occasionally outperform them, but not reliably. Assuming the economy holds together, a year at Wachtell should pay about the same amount as a year at Kellogg or Susman. After the first year, Wachtell separates itself from the pack.

Wilkinson Walsh reliably beats market, but not by very much. It does, however, lead the "market" in compensation for Supreme Court clerks and Bristow Fellows. If you happen to have one of those credentials, it may be your best bet.

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firmapplicant2020

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by firmapplicant2020 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:10 pm

Thanks for the responses thus far. Does anyone have a sense of how the math works out for other places that putatively pay above market (e.g., Quinn, Boies)?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:17 pm

firmapplicant2020 wrote:Thanks for the responses thus far. Does anyone have a sense of how the math works out for other places that putatively pay above market (e.g., Quinn, Boies)?
I recently looked into this when I was going through a similar decision (hence the anon post).Quinn's clerkship bonus is well above market, and its year-end bonus is staggered in a predictable manner. Based on the clerkship bonus alone, you'll come out above Big Law for 1st year comp.

Boies is another story. The clerkship bonus is only market. And its year-end bonuses are: (a) based on hours in an unpredictable way because you have little control over staffing/hours; and (b) going downwards on a notable scale over the past few years (you'll notice there's no recent coverage of their bonuses; given the flux the firm is in -- partners leaving in multiple offices, other offices closing down, the firm itself being sued, the name partners transitioning into retirement -- the firm is not likely to pay the big market-shattering bonuses it once used to receive press coverage for).

Long story short, I think Quinn is a much safer bet for above-market 1st year comp than BSF, as of course are Susman and KH.

TigerIsBack

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by TigerIsBack » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:04 pm

Good luck landing a gig, but the clear winner has to be Dovel and Luner.

https://www.dovel.com/join-us/top-salary-and-benefits/

$225k salary plus above market bonuses up to $700k.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:35 pm

TigerIsBack wrote:Good luck landing a gig, but the clear winner has to be Dovel and Luner.

https://www.dovel.com/join-us/top-salary-and-benefits/

$225k salary plus above market bonuses up to $700k.
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firmapplicant2020

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by firmapplicant2020 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:29 pm

Thanks again to all those who have responded thus far. Above anon who went through a similar process, did you find/consider any other firms that will pay above market? Any other useful insights you can share?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:37 pm

firmapplicant2020 wrote:Thanks again to all those who have responded thus far. Above anon who went through a similar process, did you find/consider any other firms that will pay above market? Any other useful insights you can share?
I don't think I have any insight that's not already conventional wisdom. Even if all you're looking to do is maximize comp for the 1st year out, I'd advise a firm with a more stable and predictable comp scheme/rep (and who knows, maybe you'll stay there longer). The clear winners are SG and KH, followed by a smattering of firms primarily in NY and DC (maybe LA, I didn't really look to West Coast), and then, a bit below all these, unpredictable firms like BSF. Kobre & Kim may be worth a closer look, though I'm not sure how much actual litigation they do (as opposed to investigations and cross-border advisory).

Even though I primarily wanted to go to a lit shop I did interview with WLRK, but didn't make it past the second round interview.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:54 am

Do you remember around what time of the year WLRK started interviewing post clerkship? Seems like they move slower than most lit boutiques. And there’s two rounds (or more) of interviews with them? Finally, where’d you end up going if you don’t mind saying?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:26 pm

Do you remember what time of the year your post clerkship interviews with WLRK were? I ask because it seems that WLRK’s hiring timeline is later than some big law/boutique’s. Also was the first round a screener or are there two rounds for callbacks? Thanks!

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:56 pm

firmapplicant2020 wrote:Thanks for the responses thus far. Does anyone have a sense of how the math works out for other places that putatively pay above market (e.g., Quinn, Boies)?
A busy first year at Kirkland (2200 hours or so, which is likely doable but not a sure thing) is going to get you about a 130% market bonus. Coming off a clerkship and being a 2nd year, that’s around $8k above market. Certainly no Susman/Kellogg, but separated enough from the biglaw pack to notice.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:56 pm

Any word on places like Robbins Russell, Zuckerman Spaeder, and MoloLamken in terms of compensation?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by stoopkid13 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:Wilkinson Walsh reliably beats market, but not by very much.
I guess it's a bit odd to talk about "reliably" for a firm that's only been around a few years, but I think WW+E has paid 1.5x market to all associates the past two years? Same with Selendy.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:13 pm

stoopkid13 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Wilkinson Walsh reliably beats market, but not by very much.
I guess it's a bit odd to talk about "reliably" for a firm that's only been around a few years, but I think WW+E has paid 1.5x market to all associates the past two years? Same with Selendy.
They have, but that's not that much if you're only thinking one year. 150% of market bonus is like $7,500 extra that first year. And you're going to work much harder than most DC biglaw. They're dedicated to big, high-stakes trials and only trials which involves a lot of all-nighters, weekends, and 16 hour days. It's a great firm if you're dedicated to being a trial lawyer, but I wouldn't say they're the best for a one and done to make a ton of money.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:37 am

bump, to one of the previous anon--can you explain more about "second round interview" for wlrk coming off a clerkship? screener then callback or what did the interviews look like? substantive?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any word on places like Robbins Russell, Zuckerman Spaeder, and MoloLamken in terms of compensation?
Also curious to know more about these. I don't think any of them beat market but can anyone confirm?

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:06 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Any word on places like Robbins Russell, Zuckerman Spaeder, and MoloLamken in terms of compensation?
Also curious to know more about these. I don't think any of them beat market but can anyone confirm?
From what I hear, Robbins Russell pays market, while Zuckerman is slightly below market.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Dec 03, 2021 9:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:25 am
Kellogg and Susman are the most reliable high-paying litigation boutiques. Other, smaller, boutiques (such as Dovel & Luner) occasionally outperform them, but not reliably. Assuming the economy holds together, a year at Wachtell should pay about the same amount as a year at Kellogg or Susman. After the first year, Wachtell separates itself from the pack.

Wilkinson Walsh reliably beats market, but not by very much. It does, however, lead the "market" in compensation for Supreme Court clerks and Bristow Fellows. If you happen to have one of those credentials, it may be your best bet.
In re Wachtell, Wachtell will always beat every other firm. You can't go to Kellogg or Susman without at least one clerkship, and most have two. Wachtell pays double as a bonus. Kellogg's bonus is 175k over two years, so even if you only did one clerkship and basically get to jump a full class year (roughly $35k difference), 35+87.5 is not greater than 215. Same with Susman. Wachtell is, 100%, the highest paying firm. Now taking into consideration the cost of living in NYC vs. DC vs. Houston, then maybe

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Dec 03, 2021 10:47 pm

firmapplicant2020 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:16 pm
I'm currently clerking in federal court, and I'm trying to find information about total first-year compensation at any firms that will pay above market. I know some firms pay above-market clerkship bonuses (e.g. Quinn) and that some firms (boutiques?) pay above-market end-of-year bonuses. From reading these forums, I gather that there is substantial variance in when firms pay end-of-year bonuses and whether firms pay "stub" bonuses. And I think that Susman has a "signing bonus" that effectively bumps up the clerkship bonus.

I don't care which bucket the compensation falls into (e.g., "clerkship bonus," "salary," etc.) but am just trying to gather information about what total compensation looks like at the end of the first year for any firms that pay above market. Definitely interested in boutiques (e.g., Kaplan, Selendy, Wilkinson Walsh) but would love information about any firm that will pay above market. I don't know that I'll be in big law past the first year, which is why I'm so focused on the one year mark. And any information about conditions that attach to bonuses (e.g., from reading these forums, I gather that Quinn locks you in for two years to get the higher bonus) would also be helpful. So, basically, I'm interested in any information that will help me deduce the bottom-line dollar amount you will walk out the door with if you 1) join the firm after a clerkship and 2) leave after the first year. Thanks in advance!
Here's a fresh data point for you OP. I'm in the midwest, and my all-in first year comp is about 295k.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Dec 04, 2021 11:52 am

I was a double clerk (no fancy judges either) and got 130k at a V5 simply because I asked.

The firm, like all firms, provided some additional compensation for covid at year end last year. Most firms did not give these to people who had just started but the incoming clerks all got it.

The firm also paid me a bar stipend even though I did not work there during my summers.

All in, the bonuses and stipends were about 150k, 20 of which I did not realize I would get.

I also asked them to take out the claw back language; they did.

Some other things to consider from a pure comp perspective.
- healthcare
- tech budget
- potential business development budgets

Molo, Susman, and Kellogg would be firms I would target on the boutique side. I'd go after Quinn/Selendy (if you're in NY) as well. There are other places depending on your market (HH, Yetter, WC, etc.).

Once you have one six figure bonus, you can try to parlay it to another big law firm and simply say, "I'm deciding between you and X and X has offered me significantly more upfront, would you consider giving me [$]". Most people were really receptive to that.

The job largely blows so you should try to squeeze as hard as you can before you start.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:56 pm
Any word on places like Robbins Russell, Zuckerman Spaeder, and MoloLamken in terms of compensation?
MoloLamken is above market.

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Re: 2020 Post-Clerkship Total 1st Year Compensation

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Dec 07, 2021 9:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Dec 06, 2021 12:18 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:56 pm
Any word on places like Robbins Russell, Zuckerman Spaeder, and MoloLamken in terms of compensation?
MoloLamken is above market.
Anon because I'm interviewing with them now. Haven't discussed comp. What's your source for this, and are you referring to annual, clerkship bonus (to the extent an ascertainable market for boutique clerkship bonuses exists anymore?), or both?

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