Biglaw Firm Offers Special Bonuses, But Amount Leaves Partners Wanting More


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Yes, February is declining and temperatures in the northeast are gradually increasing, bringing the fleeting first glance of spring, but that doesn’t mean Biglaw is finished with the 2020 bonus cycle. Many companies have already paid the price. end of the year and special bonuses, but not all companies have joined.

In January, Cadwalader announced that employees would be reimbursed for pay cuts they suffered in 2020, as part of the company’s response to COVID-19. (fully for administrative staff with no billable requirements, and fully for legal staff who billed 1400 client hours or more in 2020.) they billed 1900 client hours. But there was no mention of the special bonuses that Biglaw’s top firms gave to partners.

Now, finally, comes the word on the Cadwalader special bonuses. According to company insiders, Cadwalader told associates they would be offering special bonuses, but would be in a black box, meaning it wouldn’t be easy to figure out the timing of how many associates would be. given based on class year or billed hours or any objective measurement. Instead, the amounts of special bonuses would be communicated individually.

Hmmmm, but what would that actually mean for the associates’ bank accounts? Then came this detail from a tipster:

Cadwalader’s managing partner told associates the new special bonus scale capped at about half the New York market rate. He attempted to justify the cut by saying that 2020 revenue was down 1.5% company-wide, so CWT didn’t have a stellar year like other companies, despite a very busy and profitable year for some practice groups.

It will therefore be difficult to end up with a market full of bonuses. (Update: Other informants have contacted Above the Law that in combination with Cadwalader’s extra bonus for super high billable hours, it’s * possible * to reach a market bonus, and maybe even get a very small bit above that mark – you’re just going to have to charge your butt. “The way they did it was that in combination with CWT’s existing super bonus policy (where they give you 120% of the regular bonus amount if you hit 2,200), the special bonuses they advertised In fact put people a little above the market If they billed more than 2,200 hours. And given that many Biglaw firms give these special bonuses without or with a reduced hour requirement, well, it must sting to have to hit the 2,200 threshold to finally hit the market money.) After what we hear, the associates reaction can best be summed up by this meme that does the trick:

Remember everyone, we depend on your advice to stay on top of important bonus updates, so when your business matches please text us (646-820-8477) or email us ( subject line: “[Firm Name] Bonus “). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via SMS or email if you do not want to transfer the original PDF or Word file.

And if you would like to sign up for bonus alerts from ATL (which is the list of alerts that we also use for salary announcements), please scroll down and enter your email address in the box below this message. . If you have already signed up for bonus alerts, you don’t need to do anything. You will receive an email notification a few minutes after each bonus announcement that we publish. Thanks for all your help!

head shotKathryn Rubino is Editor-in-Chief at Above the Law and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please tune in with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions or comments and follow her on Twitter (@ Kathryn1).

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