Cooley Paying Attys Bonuses For Work During Pandemic

By Kevin Penton
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Law360 (September 14, 2020, 8:45 PM EDT) -- Cooley LLP is reportedly offering bonus payments to many of its attorneys for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to traditional year-end bonus payments.

The California-based firm will offer "special appreciation bonus" payments of $2,500 to $7,500 to associates, special counsel and of counsel, depending on how long they have been with the firm, according to a Monday memorandum by firm officials that was posted on Above the Law. The bonus is meant to be in appreciation of the work performed by the lawyers amid the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus.

Attorneys on track to significantly exceed an annual pace of 1,950 full-time equivalent billable hours stand to earn more than what they would otherwise receive based on their time of service with Cooley, the memo said.

Cooley also told employees that normal end-of-year reviews and bonus payments are still planned for 2020, according to the memorandum.

Firm officials could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Cooley confirmed to Law360 on April 2 that it had pushed back the start of its summer associate program to June 15, shortening it from 10 weeks to six. At the time, Cooley declined to comment on whether salaries would be reduced for the 102 summer associates it had accepted for the year.

Other firms in recent weeks have said they've rolled back pay cuts and other austerity measures put in place this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dentons confirmed Friday that beginning Oct. 1, the firm will cut by half the reductions in draw and compensation that had been instituted for all partners and employees in the U.S. For example, Dentons partners will now see reductions in draws of 10% rather than 20%, and all other attorneys and staff will see cuts no higher than 10%, according to a Dentons memorandum. Those earning $75,000 or less will not see a reduction in their earnings.

Dentons will also create a "bonus mechanism process" to ensure that "high performers" recoup some or all of the money they missed out on, depending on how the firm performs over the rest of 2020, according to the memorandum.

On Wednesday, Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC confirmed it had eliminated all salary reductions at the beginning of September, and Eversheds Sutherland confirmed the firm's U.S. branch is restoring half of the 10% compensation cut it instituted in early May in response to the pandemic.

--Additional reporting by Xiumei Dong. Editing by Brian Baresch.

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