Kirkland & Ellis associates began receiving phone calls earlier in the week telling them about their year-end bonuses for 2011. The majority of the associates at the law firm claim that they will be receiving bonuses that are shattering the market. One source from the firm said the following:
“It is mad money. Huge year for everyone here.”
The firm relies on a black box bonus structure. A black box bonus structure means that the bonuses are based on individual associate performances and hours worked for the year. Plenty of associates are chatting about their year-end bonuses, which seem to be much, much higher than the ones issued by Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. Even more impressive is the fact that some of the Kirkland & Ellis associates are saying they are making more than they would have made at Quinn Emanuel, which is a feat in and of itself.
There is one catch to the year-end bonuses handed out by Kirkland & Ellis. That one catch is that the year-end bonuses are inclusive of any spring bonuses. This means that Kirkland & Ellis might not hand out spring bonuses in 2012, even if there are other firms doing so.
Kirkland & Ellis values those who bill a ton of hours to clients, which is an excellent sign of the riches that can be found at the top of the Kirkland & Ellis bonus scale. Below are a couple of sources from within the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis who decided to talk with Above the Law.
The first source is a junior associate who billed 2,700 hours in 2011 and is receiving a bonus close to $40,000. “Wasn’t expecting anything close to this high. Almost four times the Cravath scale is awesome.”
The second source is a junior associate who billed clients reasonable hours in 2011. “I’m getting almost twice the New York market. Still very pleased that I turned down multiple lock-step V10s to come here.”
Kirkland & Ellis reportedly are handing out their bonuses in two categories: the first is merit bonus and the second hours bonus. Associates were told that the two bonuses reflect the top of the market bonuses and any expected spring bonuses other firms might hand out, which means Kirkland & Ellis probably will not hand out spring bonuses.
Another source from within Kirkland & Ellis went on to say: “[s]ome other people mentioned that they were told that this is inclusive of any ‘spring’ component (but it didn’t come up on my call).”
Yet another source said that spring bonuses might be paid in 2012: “No news re: spring bonuses, but if the market pays them, I am sure K&E will follow suit.” This past spring, Kirkland & Ellis did pay spring bonuses to its associates.