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2012 Year-End Bonuses Looking Better Than Last Year's

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 28, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The numbers are in from Cravath, Swaine and Moore regarding 2012 year-end bonuses, and it certainly doesn't look bad. If Cravath continues to be the weather vane for holiday bonuses among BigLaw firms, it will be a happy holiday for many associates.

By "happy holiday" we mean there will likely be bonuses for most associates at the end of December. But it may not be exactly what some people thought they'd get when they decided to become lawyers.

The amount is nothing to sneeze at, but it's unclear whether it's an improvement over last year in the grand scheme of things.

First-year associates at Cravath will be getting $10,000, with the most senior associates getting $60,000, according to Above The Law. When you compare December bonuses from this year and last, that's definitely more than Cravath associates were taking home last Christmas.

But what about when you consider the total amount of bonuses associates received last year?

Well, it turns out that in 2011, Cravath gave out spring bonuses to associates -- but that didn't happen this year. When you add together both bonuses from 2011, associates actually took home more bonus money last year.

Elie Mystal of Above The Law argues the spring bonus amount is really money from the 2010 fiscal year, and while that may be right, the end result is more cash last year than this one. Firm profits probably aren't what people will consider when they get their checks in the mail.

This also isn't necessarily an improvement over pre-recession bonus levels. But it is something, and the numbers have climbed a bit over the years.

It's not a bad time to be an associate if you can find a job.

Of course this may be the year that other firms break from the standard Cravath sets. The firm had a good year, but others in the industry may struggle to keep up, reports The New York Times.

Still, a bonus is a bonus even if isn't as large as you'd hoped it would be. Hang in there a few more years, and this year's $10,000 bonus may look like chump change compared to your future earnings.

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