Two BigLaw Firms are Showing the Bonus Money: Sullivan and L

by Vault Law Editors | January 24, 2011

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BigLaw associates may still be bitter over their 2010 bonuses, but perhaps they'll take a five-second break from sulking with positive bonus news from Latham & Watkins LLP and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. On Friday, Above the Law (“ATL”) reported that both firms are getting generous with their green.

Latham has been holding out on announcing its 2010 bonuses—there’s nothing like being fashionably late when you’re rolling up with dollar signs. Latham’s bonuses aren’t lock-step, making it more difficult to compare them to the market bonus scale, but the median Latham bonus numbers are looking good. In fact, one ATL tipster shares that the bonuses are “[a]t least 30% above market. Top performers got 2x Cravath/Skadden scale.” Below are Latham’s median bonus numbers as compared to Cravath's lockstep scale (courtesy of ATL):

LATHAM & WATKINS — 2010 MEDIAN BONUS AMOUNTS

Class of 2009 — $9,250 — (Cravath scale: $7,500)
Class of 2008 — $14,000 — ($10,000)
Class of 2007 — $21,500 — ($15,000)
Class of 2006 — $28,500 — ($20,000)
Class of 2005 — $37,000 — ($25,000)
Class of 2004 — $42,000 — ($30,000)
Class of 2003 — $48.375 — ($35,000)
Class of 2002 — $50,250 — (N/A)

But Latham isn’t the only one with big bonus news—Sullivan decided to join Friday’s bonus party with an announcement that’s making BigLaw associates salivate: 2011 springtime bonuses. That’s right—Sullivan is adding a dollop of green to its basically-market 2010 bonuses (unlike the market, Sullivan's class of 2003 received $37,500, and its class of 2002 received $42,500). And I don’t mean a teaspoon dollop—Sullivan associates are getting some serious cash, ranging from $2,500 for first-years to $20,000 for senior associates, which will be paid in April 2011. Below are Sullivan’s December 2010 bonus numbers plus the April 2011 bonus numbers (courtesy of ATL):

SULLIVAN & CROMWELL — 2010 BONUS + 2011 SPRING BONUS

Class Year: December 2010 Bonus + April 2011 Bonus = Total Bonus

Class of 2010: $0 + $2,500 = $2,500
Class of 2009: $7,500 + $7,500 = $15,000
Class of 2008: $10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000
Class of 2007: $15,000 + $10,000 = $25,000
Class of 2006: $20,000 + $12,500 = $32,500
Class of 2005: $25,000 + $15,000 = $40,000
Class of 2004: $30,000 + $17,500 = $47,500
Class of 2003: $37,500 + $20,000 = $57,500
Class of 2002+: $42,500 + $20,000 = $62,500

Why do you think each of these firms is doling out extra bonus money: a thank you for associates’ hard work, a testament to the firm’s profits, a means to retain associates (one hypothesis over on ATL regarding Sullivan), or an opportunity to set the firm apart from the others? Will Sullivan associates be heading to the bank alone this April, or will other law firms follow the spring 2011 bonus trend? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Twitter page.

ATL post on Latham’s 2010 bonus
ATL post on Sullivan’s spring 2011 bonus
ATL post on Sullivan’s 2010 bonus
ATL post on Cravath’s 2010 bonus

RELATED: Associates Still Grumbling Over 2010 BigLaw Bonuses

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