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Some Law Firms Giving Out Year-End Bonuses with Billable Hour Stipulations
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Summary: More law firms have announced their year-end bonuses. 

Last Monday, industry heavyweight Cravath, Swaine & Moore set the scale for year-end bonuses. It announced that it was giving first-year associates $15,000 and more senior associates up to $100,000. After the Cravath scale was set, other Big Law firms announced a similar model, but New York Law Journal said that some firms’ bonuses could have catches attached.

  
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These stipulations mentioned are billable hour requirements, something that have been in play in the past few years, New York Law Journal said. For instance, Norton Rose Fulbright’s first-year associates reportedly must have 2,300 billable hours to qualify for their $15,000 year-end bonus.

The law firm told New York Law Journal that associates can also use non-billable activities to qualify for their bonus.

“In addition to hour-based bonuses, our associate compensation program includes a significant discretionary bonus component to encourage and acknowledge important non-billable activities, such as client development and pro bono activities,” the firm said. “We use discretionary bonuses in conjunction with hour-based bonuses to ensure that Norton Rose Fulbright’s compensation is in line with, or exceeds, the compensation paid in each of our markets.”

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At Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, associates must log 2,000 billable hours to be eligible for the full year-end bonus, which is set to the Cravath scale. However, the firm has a bonus to the bonus. Associates who log at least 2,200 billable hours may receive 120% of the scale, according to a firm spokesperson.

“It appears that a significant number of our associates will be eligible and will receive this 120 percent bonus for billable hours of 2,200 and above,” the spokesperson said.



Winston & Strawn may also give associates an extra bonus if they bill more than 2,000 hours, according to ABA Journal.

Cravath announced their bonus structure last week, and so far, Clifford Chance; Allen & OveryMilbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP have stated that they were matching the scale (see below.)

Cravath Bonus Structure 

Class of 2017 — $15,000 (pro-rated)
Class of 2016 — $15,000
Class of 2015 — $25,000
Class of 2014 — $50,000
Class of 2013 — $65,000
Class of 2012 — $80,000
Class of 2011 — $90,000
Class of 2010 — $100,000
Class of 2009 — $100,000

ABA Journal said that the following firms have also matched Cravath’s scale: Simpson Thacher; Debevoise & Plimpton; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Skadden; Norton Rose Fulbright; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Proskauer Rose; Linklaters; Shearman & Sterling; Covington & Burling; boutique firm Kaplan & Company; Winston & Strawn; Willkie Farr & Gallagher; Freshfields; and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Are you satisfied with your firm’s year end bonus? Let us know in the comments below or email: aostler@jdjournal.com.



 

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