At long last, associate bonuses are starting to reflect partner takeaways in law firms. While in general the industry had been crying foul and adjusting to recession after-effects and rapid changes in technology, the income of partners in big law firms had kept rising. However, the recession was the excuse with which law firms had been pushing associates to the wall, and still keeping at it. But Boies Schiller, on Wednesday, showed their human e side by paying out associate bonuses ranging from $25,000-$250,000, which is in step with the actual economics of law firms and the recovery from recession.
Though the step may not go down well with other law firms, Boies Schiller bonuses outdid leading law firms like Cravath, Skadden, Simpson Thacher and others, who have announced associate bonuses between $10,000 and $60,000 for associates – mere peanuts before what Boies is paying.
There is another thing special with bonuses – while other law firms use bonuses as an aggressive retention strategy and pay higher bonuses to senior associates who have been working longer at the law firms, Boies takes a lot of factors into account , of which seniority is only one. Bonus in Boies is determined on many factors including billable hours logged in, billing rates, associate bills and others.
While last year, the high-end bonuses at Boies had been an average of $75,000, the leap to an average of $200,000 has shocked the industry where many believe in wringing as much from law firm associates as possible.
Even associates who joined Boies Schiller this fall received $5000 in bonuses.
While in many law firms, partners cared little about associates, and looked towards increasing their own income, Boies Schiller partners cut their own annual bonuses from 2008 to battle the recession and ensure fair payments to associates.