Latham To Hand Out Fall Associate Bonuses Amid Pandemic

By Justin Wise
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Law360 (October 29, 2020, 6:10 PM EDT) -- Latham & Watkins LLP told associates on Thursday that the firm would be providing fall bonuses of up to $40,000, joining the list of BigLaw firms doling out "special bonuses" to attorneys during the coronavirus pandemic.

Latham follows Cooley, Debevoise and other BigLaw firms in handing out pandemic-related bonuses for attorneys this fall. (Annie Pancak | Law360)

The bonuses will range from $7,500 for first-year associates to $40,000 for attorneys with seven years or more of experience, a firm spokesperson confirmed to Law360. 

Latham is still planning to conduct its normal end-of-year reviews and bonus handouts. The firm did not comment further on the decision.

The announcement follows similar bonus moves made by Cooley LLP, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, among others. The list of firms awarding one-time fall bonuses for associates also includes Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

However, many major firms have opted against one-time bonus payments in recent weeks.

In early October, leadership at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP told associates that "special pandemic bonuses" in the fall would not be "appropriate" given the economic hardships many Americans are facing, according to a memo obtained by Law360. Goodwin Procter LLP, Ropes & Gray LLP and O'Melveny & Myers LLP have also decided against special bonuses, though some have said that fall bonus activity would be taken into account during regular end-of-year bonus reviews.

Like many industries, large U.S. firms issued a number of austerity measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including furloughs, layoffs and salary cuts. Latham, the second-largest law firm in the U.S., according to the Law360 400, has appeared to avoid many of the most severe actions, only shortening its summer associate program.

Overall, the legal industry has generally withstood some of the more harmful effects of the economic downturn caused by the health crisis. Several firms who instituted salary cuts in the spring have restored them to pre-pandemic levels, and some have fully refunded withheld pay.

For example, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP told Law360 earlier this week that its move to completely roll back salary cuts and partner draw reductions came in response to "strong year-to-date performance." Fisher Phillips, Perkins Coie LLP and Pillsbury are among the major firms also offering full restoration payments.

--Additional reporting by Aebra Coe and Kevin Penton. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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