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Debevoise & Plimpton, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett Roll Out Special Fall Bonuses
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Debevoise & Plimpton, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are the latest top law firms to jump on the bonus train, announcing extra bonuses for their associates starting at $7,500 and reaching as high as $40,000, matching a scale set by Davis Polk.

At Debevoise, U.S. associates getting the special fall bonus will also receive the traditional year-end bonuses that will be as high as in 2019, the firm confirmed, when they ranged between $15,000 and $100,000.

Michael Blair, the firm’s presiding partner announced in an internal memo Monday published by Above the Law, that Debevoise’s “activity levels have been very strong” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that associates’ “hard work, dedication, and professionalism have been outstanding.”


Simpson Thacher is giving extra fall bonuses to associates worldwide who are in good standing. Just like Debevoise and Davis Polk, the firm doesn’t expect the fall bonus to have an impact on the year-end bonuses, which should “be at least consistent with last year’s amounts,” according to a memo obtained by ATL.

According to another memo obtained by Above the Law, Sullivan & Cromwell was unclear whether the extra bonus will affect the year-end bonus.

In late July, Sullivan & Cromwell reportedly laid off around 50 staff members and now the firm joins firms such as Baker McKenzie and Venable in balancing costs against compensation.

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According to ALM data, the firm cashed in roughly $1.5 billion in revenue with profits per equity partner of $4.6 million in 2019. Debevoise brought in $1 billion in revenues and boasted profits per equity partner of $3.7 million.

Several firms including California litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan and New York have rolled out fall bonuses matching first-mover Davis Polk & Wardwell.

While half a dozen firms continue to wade into the annual bonus race, some top-dollar law firms such as $4.9 billion Kirkland & Ellis decided to opt-out of the bonus war. In a memo obtained by ATL, the firm promised its associates that instead of the special fall bonus, in determining the December bonuses “it will take into account the hard work and extraordinary contributions of associates as well as the fall bonuses by any other firm to ensure it remains a compensation leader.”



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