Bonus season is kinda, sorta upon us. I mean Baker McKenzie made a move, but it didn’t account for the COVID appreciation bonuses that swept through Biglaw this fall, so it was pretty anti-climactic.
Anyway, firms — and their associates — are in a holding pattern, with lots of questions. Like how much will year-end bonuses be, and if they will account for the COVID bonuses that some firms have already paid out? Because there’s a weird split in Biglaw bonuses this year (an industry noted for adherence to a market standard), with some firms already paying appreciation bonuses as a special thank you from the firm for their hard work during the pandemic in addition to year-end bonuses that are promised to be at least as big as last year’s pool. While others have been silent, and left their associates wondering.
Clifford Chance has answered at least some of those questions for associates. While there is no formal bonus announcement yet, at an Associates’ Meeting call last week, U.S.-based associates were told there will be COVID appreciation bonuses in addition to the standard year-end ones that will be paid in mid-January. While the exact dollar amounts were not hashed out, given that another Magic Circle firm, Freshfields, previously announced (and paid out) appreciation bonuses ranging between $7,500 and $40,000, depending on class year, there’s a very good chance they’ll be on that scale.
With so many elite Biglaw firms waiting until the end of the year to make bonus decisions, keeping track of what peer firms are doing is a little trickier this year. But fear not, Above the Law will continue to monitor exactly what’s going on across the industry.
As always, we depend on you when it comes to bonus news at other firms. As soon as your firm’s bonus memo comes out, please email it to us (subject line: “(Firm Name) Bonus”) or text us (646-820-8477). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file.
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Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).