$500-worth of settlements capped of a good year for boutique trial firm Gibbs & Bruns.

A banner year of major settlements has prompted a local law firm to dish out bonuses considered unusually high in local legal circles.

All associate attorneys at Gibbs & Bruns LLP are receiving bonus checks this week equal to their annual salaries.

More senior associates have received bonuses over the past 12 months equal to about twice their yearly wages, according to Gibbs & Bruns partner Kathy Patrick.

The 23-year-old commercial litigation boutique firm finalized two settlements last week to cap off a record year that brought in more than $500 million on behalf of clients.

Most of the bonus activity stems from resolution of contingent fee cases, according to firm founder Robin Gibbs.

Says Gibbs in a written statement: “One of the virtues of representing clients on a contingent fee basis is the alignment of interests between lawyer and client. The firm doesn’t do well unless our clients do well.”

The firm’s staff of 70 includes 18 partners, 10 associates and six other affiliated attorneys. Current and former clients include Chevron Corp., Morgan Stanley, the Houston Police Officers Pension System, and the former outside directors of Enron Corp.

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