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Who Will Get Spring Bonuses This Year?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 16, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Spring is (almost) in the air, and so are spring bonuses.

Everyone knows that, when it comes to compensation, large law firms are followers, not leaders. Partners sit around in their corner offices, poking around at the firm's financials until Above the Law gets a hot tip that Big Prestigious Law Firm (BPLF) number one has started the spring bonus game. And then they poke around a little more, waiting to see what BPLF number two does, just to make sure they don't accidentally overpay the serfs.

But what do they do when BPLF number two does overpay their associates? They panic. And do nothing.

Associates across the country were waiting for someone to announce spring bonuses when Sullivan & Cromwell broke the seal with some pretty generous sums. But then Cravath came barreling through and ripped it off, beating Sullivan & Cromwell's top compensation numbers.

Silence ensued.

Now the partners at BPLFs numbers 3 through 50 have no clue who to follow, meaning that spring bonuses are in flux.

End of the year bonuses at most BPLFs were paltry compared to what associates were expecting, according to Above the Law, despite the economy's assent into recovery. With morale being low(er than usual), firms are hesitant to pay below the established market rate this spring, which is what is likely causing their hesitance. But, as the legal tabloid points out, Cravath is a small firm with few senior associates, meaning that it can afford to bankroll the higher top-level bonuses. Meeting their rate will be tough.

Though it is important to know just how much your firm values your late nights, you should keep spring bonuses in perspective. That extra $2,000 is only worth one month of loan payments.

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