The Bitter Tale of Big Law Firms Associate Bonuses

Hi folks. Hope your Christmas holiday was good.

I know the lawyers among us, especially those who have worked for large law firms in the past, will so appreciate this article from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (WSJ). Excerpts follow:

“A little over a month ago, we blogged about Cravath’s year-end bonus payments to associates. The response from readers was swift and angry: How dare the firm award such seemingly meager payouts?

Today, WSJ takes a deeper look at this year’s bonus season, in which many top firms have followed Cravath by awarding bonuses that start at $7,500 for first-year associates and climb up to $35,000 for senior associates.

Why did many firms award bonuses this year that are only marginally better than their 2009 payouts?

In part, WSJ reports, because business hasn’t improved much. Corporate work has not yet returned to the peaks of 2007, when year-end bonuses were much higher at many firms. And litigation is still sluggish, as clients have grown less willing to engage in protracted lawsuits and more apt to prod law firms to charge less for handling court case . . .”

WSJ has the full story.