2020 Bonuses: What Law Firms Are Giving Out This Year

 
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Law360 (October 1, 2020, 9:08 PM EDT) -- UPDATED October 16, 2020 | Law firms have been divided in how they are responding financially to the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus, especially when it comes to bonuses. Here is a roundup of where law firms stand on both special bonuses tied to work done during the pandemic and end-of-year bonuses.

This list will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Baker Donelson
Pandemic work bonus: restored base pay     
On Sept. 15, the firm confirmed a measure that will allow associates to earn back their previous salaries in a one-time bonus through extra workload and hours. According to a memo, associates and staff attorneys can earn a one-time bonus that will bring their total compensation back to 100% if they exceed 125% of their revenue plan and 90% of their hours target by Sept. 30. Similarly, those who achieve at least 110% of their revenue goal and 90% of their hours will be able to bring their compensation to 90% of base pay, and 85% compensation will be restored for attorneys that exceed 100% of revenue plan and 90% of their hours. Additionally, attorneys that achieved at least 110% of their hours target but have not exceeded one of the pay thresholds will receive a one-time payment that will bring their compensation to 90% of base pay.

Cooley
Pandemic work bonus: $2,500-$7,500     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 14, the firm reportedly said it 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, 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. Cooley also told employees that normal end-of-year reviews and bonus payments are still planned for 2020. The firm will also offer an appreciation bonus to its professional staff at the end of September.

Davis Polk & Wardwell
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 15, the firm told its U.S. associates they will receive bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000 in recognition of their work during the "unprecedented" challenges that have presented themselves this year. The bonuses, which will be handed to associates Sept. 30, will not impact their usual year-end bonuses. The bonuses at Davis Polk include $7,500 for associates who graduated law school in the class of 2019, $10,000 for the class of 2018, $20,000 for the class of 2017, $27,500 for the class of 2016, $32,500 for the class of 2015, $37,000 for the class of 2014, and $40,000 for those in the class of 2013 and others more senior.

Debevoise & Plimpton
Pandemic work bonus: ~$7,500-$40,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 22, the firm said it would hand out pandemic work appreciation bonuses to associates during the last week of October, which will not impact their usual year-end bonuses. The bonuses being offered by Debevoise are on a similar scale to the ones used by Milbank LLP and Davis Polk, 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.

Goodwin Procter
End-of-year bonus: On track
On Oct. 8, the firm sent out a memo that said it will not hand out special pandemic-related bonuses this fall, but indicated they would consider rewarding associates' hard work in January when it pays its annual merit bonuses.

Hueston Hennigan
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 17, the firm confirmed that it will be providing an additional bonus to associates this year in light of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic that will range from $7,500 to $40,000 based on seniority. These will be in addition to their usual year-end bonuses.

Irell & Manella
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000
On Sept. 18, the firm confirmed it is paying bonuses at the end of the month to attorneys in appreciation of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will pay $7,500 to first-year associates, $10,000 to second-year associates, $20,000 to third-year associates, $27,500 to fourth-year associates, $32,500 to fifth-year associates, $37,000 to sixth-year associates, and $40,000 to seventh-year associates and those who have been with Irell longer.

Mayer Brown
Pandemic work bonus: Undisclosed     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 14, the firm said that in an effort to address the months of salary reduction, it will award an additional discretionary bonus this year to high-performing income partners, of counsel and associates on top of "competitive" end-of-year bonuses.

Milbank
Pandemic work bonus: $3,750-$60,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 16, Law360 learned the firm will offer "special one-time bonus" payments ranging from $3,750 to $60,000 to associates from the 2012 to 2019 classes, depending on how long they have been with the firm and how much work they've taken on during the pandemic. Associates with less than 80% utilization through Sept. 6, inclusive of pro bono and legal work for the firm, will receive 50% of their respective class bonus, while those with 110% utilization will score an additional bonus equal to 50% of their respective class bonus. The base rate for class of 2019 associates is $7,500, ranging up to $40,000 for class of 2013 and 2012 associates, according to the email. They are expected to be paid by Oct. 30 and will not affect year-end bonuses.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 24, the firm said it will continue to offer associates annual bonuses matching its 2019 scale.

Shearman & Sterling
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000
On Sept. 28, the firm said it will offer associates in good standing as of Oct. 15 bonuses in appreciation of their work during the pandemic. The firm will pay $7,500 to first-year associates, $10,000 to second-year associates, $20,000 to third-year associates, $27,500 to fourth-year associates, $32,500 to fifth-year associates, $37,000 to sixth-year associates and $40,000 to seventh-year associates and those who have been with Shearman longer.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom
End-of-year bonus: On track
On Oct. 8, the firm said in an internal video announcement that it will not hand out special pandemic-related bonuses this fall, but that it will consider paying larger end-of-year bonuses to keep pace with top-tier talent compensation.

Squire Patton Boggs
Pandemic work bonus: Undisclosed     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 15, the firm said it will reward employees "who performed at extraordinary levels" during the reduced compensation period with a special bonus, and its existing bonus program will also remain in place.

Sullivan & Cromwell
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000
On Sept. 22, the firm reportedly announced bonuses for association that matched a scale set by others, going from $7,500 for the class of 2019 associates to $40,000 for the class of 2013 and others more senior.

Weil Gotshal & Manges
Pandemic work bonus: $10,000-$50,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Sept. 24, the firm confirmed a one-time package of bonus rewards for associates who worked during the COVID-19 crisis based on how many billable hours associates worked between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31. 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.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Pandemic work bonus: $7,500-$40,000     End-of-year bonus: On track
On Oct. 9, the firm said it will be offering cash awards ranging from $7,500 to $40,000, based on seniority, to associates for their work during the pandemic. Associates will also receive their traditional year-end bonuses in December.

--Reporting by Aebra Coe, Emma Cueto, Xiumei Dong, Michele Gorman, Mike LaSusa, Kevin Penton and Dave Simpson. Editing by Orlando Lorenzo.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated bonus payment figures at Milbank. The error has been corrected.

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

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