BigLaw Big Love: Bonus Season Begins

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 24, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Joy to the World, the bonuses have come.

Really, if you are part of BigLaw, you have your own bonus memo to look forward to. If you are toiling outside the gushing font of hours and moolah that is BigLaw, you might care, or you might not. In any case, the Recording Angel, otherwise known as Cravath, Swaine & Moore, has set forth its associate bonus levels for this year.

Cravath gave a early tidbit to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that this year's bonus levels were good news, even though they were up just $5,000 from last year for senior associates and "matching" (read, flat) for other classes. Here are the numbers:

Class of 2009 -- $7,500
Class of 2008 -- $10,000
Class of 2007 -- $15,000
Class of 2006 -- $20,000
Class of 2005 -- $25,000
Class of 2004 -- $30,000
Class of 2003 -- $35,000

Is this really good news for associates at Cravath and far beyond? The Journal says, yea, Above the Law says, nay. With a lip-smacking attention to detail, ATL breaks down the numbers comparing the 2007 bonus and the 2010 bonus just to dispel the "it's good news" idea. Further, The New York Times Dealbook agrees that for Cravath, one of the nation's most profitable firms, the 2010 bonus "pales" in comparison to the '07 bonus. In that year, Bloomberg reported the high end of the bonus scale hit $60k.

The result seems to be, even though we in the legal community believe we've seen the worst of the recession go by, the bonus numbers are still partying like its 2008, which was not all that much of a party.

But in the end, even if the numbers are small, the firm memo (via Dealbook) assures us that "virtually all" of the hardworking Cravath associates will receive their bonuses. So, on bonus day, December 10, 2010, let the festivities begin.

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