Are the giddy heights of Big Law paydays here again for the year-end bonus season in New York?
It would appear so if some of the city’s most prestigious law firms are anything to go by with bonuses to associates amounting to as much as $40,000 as a result of a growth in M&A work, which comes on top a pretty hefty pay packets.
WSJ Online reports that managements at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP disclosed on Friday they would cut checks of between $15,000 and $100,000 next month for associate attorneys depending on their seniority. Lawyers who have been with the firms seven or more years would make the most.
In 2013, bonuses paid by each firm were $10,000 to $60,000, respectively. The pay comes on top of annual salaries that range from $160,000 for first-year associates to nearly $300,000 for the senior-most associates. Associates are the salaried, typically younger lawyers that support a firm’s partners.
“We recognize that you have been working incredibly hard and have all contributed to the Firm’s extraordinary success this year,” wrote William Dougherty, the chair of Simpson’s executive committee, in a memo to staff.
Paul Weiss and Cleary Gottlieb issued similar memos Friday afternoon.
The development represented a departure in the way associate bonuses at big law firms have been unveiled in recent years. Another New York firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, has typically been the first to announce its figures, usually shortly after Thanksgiving. Other large firms tended to “match” the Cravath numbers. A spokeswoman for Cravath didn’t respond to a request for comment.
This time, it was Simpson Thacher leading the way. The 850-lawyer firm with a deep roster of blue-chip financial-industry clients has handled deals totaling $412 billion in the year to date, according to Dealogic.
The firm is advising Dollar General Corp. in its $9.1 billion hostile bid to buy Family Dollar Stores Inc., and TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. in a $11.7 billion takeover by a rival.
It ranks third overall in total deal value, behind only Cleary Gottlieb and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
For years, the 900-lawyer Paul Weiss has been regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent litigation firms, with clients that includes JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and the National Football League.