Cravath Holiday Bonuses Hold Steady Despite Pandemic

By Sarah Martinson
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Law360 (November 23, 2020, 7:45 PM EST) -- Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP's 2020 year-end bonuses for associates remain the same for the sixth straight year, which Paul Weiss matched, according to memos Monday, despite the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic that had firms cutting salaries earlier this year.

The firm's end-of-year bonuses range from $15,000 for associates who started in 2019 to $100,000 for those who started in 2013, according to the memo.

The memo, signed by firm partners Faiza Saeed, G.E. Zobitz and Karin A. DeMasi, noted that the pandemic has made 2020 a challenging year for the firm's clients and associates alike.

"We are grateful for all of your efforts, and we are proud of the commitment and resilience that all of our lawyers have demonstrated on behalf of our firm and our clients through this trying period," the memo said.

In addition to year-end bonuses, Cravath associates will be receiving special bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000, the memo said.

Cravath also announced 2021 base salaries for associates that range from $190,000 for associates who started in 2020 to $340,000 for those who started in 2013, according to the memo.

Less than an hour after Cravath released its 2020 bonus scale, which matches Baker McKenzie, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP announced that it will pay its associates on the same bonus scale, according to another memo.

In past years, big law firms have followed Cravath's lead when announcing end-of-year bonuses.

This year Baker McKenzie kicked off the 2020 year-end bonus season, telling associates that they could receive up to $100,000 in one-time payments and that its offerings could increase if other law firms set their scales higher.

Earlier this year, many BigLaw firms cut salaries as a precautionary measure to brace themselves for financial uncertainty brought by the pandemic. In the fall, firms restored salaries while some paid their associates fall bonuses.

--Editing by Stephen Berg.

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