Full BigLaw associate bonuses may not be for everybody

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Full BigLaw associate bonuses may not be for everybody

Large law firms will likely continue to pay annual associate bonuses ranging from $20,000 to $115,000 this year, the going rate since 2021. Image from Shutterstock.

Large law firms will likely continue to pay annual associate bonuses ranging from $20,000 to $115,000 this year, the going rate since 2021.

But those bonuses are likely to come with strings attached, and some associates won’t qualify for full bonuses, Bloomberg Law reports.

One of the new requirements may take office attendance into account. According to Bloomberg Law, firms such as Davis Polk & Wardwell, Sidley Austin, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have indicated that bonus money could be cut for associates who don’t comply with their policies.

Davis Polk wants associates in the office four days per week, while the other firms are asking for three days.

Firms may also raise the billable hours needed for full payments.

That allows firms to hold themselves out as paying market rates, “even if they don’t have that many associates that qualify for those bonuses if the firm’s had a really tough year,” said Joshua Holt, a former Goodwin Procter lawyer and the founder of BigLaw Investor, who spoke with Bloomberg Law.

Bonus announcements usually begin in late November.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan announced special fall bonuses ranging from $2,120 to $32,908 in mid-October.

Other firms have not fallen into line, suggesting the Quinn Emanuel bonuses are probably a “one-off,” said recruiter Kate Reder Sheikh of recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, in an interview with Bloomberg Law.



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