From The American Lawyer:
Want an early look at how law firms will end 2008? Check out their associate bonus memos.
Of the 14 firms whose memos have made it onto the blogosphere, all but one in some way refer to the economy or firm finances in explaining why bonuses are down this year….
Take Debevoise & Plimpton…. The memo its associates received Dec. 9 notes deal work in 2008 has dropped, suggesting the firm is bracing for weaker results.
Much of the bonus attention has focused on Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Cravath, Swaine & Moore, since they were the first two firms to pull the trigger on bonus announcements. … Skadden, diversified internationally, said of 2008, “the level of the firm’s business continues to be relatively strong, with our total workload, until very recently, being similar to 2007, our most successful year.”
“However, we have more attorneys to do this work, and therefore, our results aren’t as strong as they were last year,” the memo from executive partner Robert Sheehan said….
Cravath presiding partner Evan Chesler, in contrast, wrote that “the economic downturn has severely affected our clients,” who “are under strong pressure to cut costs dramatically.”