Weil Joins Ranks Of BigLaw Firms Giving Pandemic Bonuses

By Mike LaSusa
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Law360 (September 24, 2020, 10:56 PM EDT) -- Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP has unveiled a one-time package of bonus rewards for associates who worked during the COVID-19 crisis, making it the latest BigLaw firm to offer such associate bonuses.

Weil's bonuses will be based on how many billable hours associates worked between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 and won't affect regular year-end bonuses, according to a memo from Executive Partner Barry M. Wolf to the firm provided to Law360.

Associates who billed less than 1,800 hours will get a $10,000 bonus, the memo said. The payout will be $20,000 for those billing between 1,800 and 2,000 hours, $30,000 for those billing between 2,000 and 2,300 hours, $40,000 for those between 2,300 hours and 2,600 hours, and $50,000 for those billing more than 2,600 hours.

"As we have stated throughout the pandemic, we greatly appreciate all the significant client work that you have handled seamlessly since the start of this global crisis," Wolf told associates in the memo. "The firm has nothing but gratitude for all you have done to create exceptional results for our clients under exceptional circumstances."

The bonus package offered by Weil differs from the those offered by some of its peers in the sense that the payouts are based on the number of hours associates have billed rather than their seniority.

Earlier this week, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP confirmed that it has offered its U.S. associates extra cash awards of up to $40,000. Its bonuses are on a similar scale to the ones handed out by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, which set the base rate for the class of 2019 associates at $7,500, ranging up to $40,000 for the class of 2013 and others more senior.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP matched those bonuses this week, according to a memo obtained by Law360. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP also matched them this week, according to legal blog Above the Law.

Cooley LLP was the first firm reported to offer bonuses in recognition of attorneys' work during the pandemic, saying it will offer "special appreciation bonus" payments of $2,500 to $7,500 to associates, special counsel and of counsel.

After Davis Polk had raised the bar with a higher range of bonuses last week, others including Milbank LLP, Hueston Hennigan LLP and Irell & Manella LLP said they would offer similar bonuses, although Milbank expanded the range of bonuses higher for those who have taken on a larger-than-average workload and lower for those who have worked less so far this year.

In addition to giving the bonuses to attorneys, Cooley said it will offer an appreciation bonus to its professional staff at the end of the month. Hueston Hennigan also said it will provide its professional staff with bonuses, adding on to similar ones of $1,000 it offered them this spring in light of challenges presented by the pandemic, a source at the firm confirmed.

However, some firms have decided not to follow suit.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP sent an email to associates last week telling them it did not plan to distribute COVID-19 appreciation bonuses as others have, but it was possible their year-end bonuses might take into account their work throughout the year, according to a report in Above the Law.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe and Xiumei Dong. Editing by Adam LoBelia.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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