Though Skadden Arps outshone Cravath in 2008 for year-end bonuses, they have since taken the more modest route of simply mirroring Cravath, who are the trendsetters and pacemakers of Biglaw bonuses.
This is certainly true for 2013, with Skadden mirroring Cravath’s bonuses, and Cravath mirroring their own bonuses last year, with not much in the way of gains or losses.
That Skadden has fallen in line and subordinated themselves to Cravath’s precedent doesn’t say much for Skadden, but that they offered consistent bonuses, as did Cravath, after a disappointing year, is at least good news for lawyers in Biglaw, who might otherwise feel less than important, now that the legal sector is saying in effect “We don’t need you, we don’t want you.”
So count it as a mild triumph that both Cravath and Skadden are holding their own in persistent Christmas bonuses. And as Cravath is the trendsetter, that means their fidelity to their talent will be echoed in other firms across the nation, keeping lawyers somewhat appeased despite this dismal market, and letting them remember that though things are bleak now, they nevertheless worked hard to get where they are, showing superiority of will and talent that might be unappreciated in this chancy game of supply and demand.