Biglaw’s ‘Special Bonuses’ Provide $200,000 to ‘Top Up’ Existing Law Job Pay

Biglaw’s Cravath Swaine & Moore may have helped start the rush to Biglaw bonuses have said they will join the year-end bonus with a ‘one time’ bonuse for associates that will match those announced in recent days by Davis Polk & Wardwell.  The Davis Polk bonus pay package can amount to close to $140,000 for the most senior of the firm’s associates.

The trend to follow the Davis Polk move has been followed by a clutch of other Biglaw firms including  Debevoise & Plimpton; Milbank; Paul Hastings; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.  Reuters have also reported that Fried Frank will match the combined scale in the firm’s major offices in New York, London and Washington DC, so long as they meet the billing credit requirements.

In an internal memo on its latest bonuses and published by AbovetheLaw, Cravath said the firm will not apply “billable hour or similar criteria” to determine associates’ eligibility. The special bonuses will be paid on the same date as its year-end bonus on Dec. 17.

Cravath and most of the other biglaw firms have offered a ‘special’ bonus round in both spring and fall to entice and retain associates in an intensely competitive law recruitment environment.  The combination for most senior associates means benefits of up to $202,000 on top of their salaries.

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