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What Are You Getting for Bonus Money?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

When you were a kid, what did you do after opening Christmas gifts that had your name on them?

You looked at the rest of the presents to see what others got, right? It's human nature, at least among siblings.

Lawyers are like that when it comes to Christmas bonuses. We want to know what our brothers and sisters are getting.

Bonus Money

To be non-denominational, the "Christmas" bonus might actually be better called a "Hanukkah" bonus. That's because Christians traditionally give presents and Jews give money at this time of year. Just saying...

In any case, attorneys await the "year-end" bonus just as anxiously as the faithful await religious holidays. It's about validation for a job well done; payment for too many hours to count; a payment toward a small condo or a huge student loan. Ho, ho, ho.

Above the Law keeps watch of these things. They report each year when BigLaw announces bonuses, and the annual ritual is on.

It's become a competition because, after all, law firms want to attract top students and what better way than to lure them with an extra $15,000? What, that's the same as last year's new hires and you thought you were getting a bigger pony?

Bonus Announcements

There's a scale to bonuses, and it's not the scale of justice. It's about longevity (and competition).

This year, Wilkinson Walsh tipped the scale at $22,500 for attorneys hired in 2016 and $150,000 for attorneys hired in 2010 or earlier.

"I'm sure that some of you have seen reports of bonus announcements at some big law firms," Brant Bishop wrote to his associates. "As in the past, this year we remain committed to recognizing the contributions of our excellent associates. And, we are fortunate again this year to be able to provide bonus compensation well above market levels."

So if you see that you're not getting the biggest bonus, there's always next year. Or the next law firm.

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