Cravath announces two bonuses of up to $140K and Paul Weiss follows

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A BigLaw firm known for setting the market rate for associate bonuses announced Monday that it will pay two bonuses this year.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore will match last year’s scale for year-end bonuses, paying associates amounts that range from $15,000 to $100,000. The firm also plans to pay special bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000. Above the Law (here and here), the American Lawyer, Reuters Legal and Bloomberg Law have coverage. Above the Law obtained the bonus memos (here and here)

Cravath said associate salaries in 2021 will be the same as 2020, with amounts ranging from $190,000 to $340,000.

After Cravath’s announcement, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison announced it also would pay year-end and special bonuses that match Cravath’s amount.

This year, a different law firm—Baker McKenzie—was first to announce year-end bonuses. It is also matching last year’s bonus amounts, but it did not offer a special bonus. The firm said it will “ensure that our bonus scale matches any increases in the market should they occur.”

Other law firms are expected to follow in Cravath’s footsteps. “Cravath is still considered the gold standard of compensation, so we expect Biglaw to fall all over themselves to match this scale,” says Above the Law.

The year-end scale is:

• Class of 2020: $15,000 (prorated)

• Class of 2019: $15,000

• Class of 2018: $25,000

• Class of 2017: $50,000

• Class of 2016: $65,000

• Class of 2015: $80,000

• Class of 2014: $90,000

• Class of 2013: $100,000

The special bonus scale is:

• Class of 2020: $7,500 (prorated)

• Class of 2019: $7,500

• Class of 2018: $10,000

• Class of 2017: $20,000

• Class of 2016: $27,500

• Class of 2015: $32,500

• Class of 2014: $37,000

• Class of 2013: $40,000

Davis Polk & Wardwell set the standard for special bonuses in September when it announced it would pay associates from $7,500 to $40,000.

Other law firms paying special bonuses at the Davis Polk scale include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Debevoise & Plimpton, Hueston Hennigan, Irell & Manella, Latham & Watkins, Milbank, Shearman & Sterling, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Sullivan & Cromwell, Weil Gotshal & Manges, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Cooley is paying lesser special bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $7,500.



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