Associates of U.S. law firms can look forward to fat year-end bonuses that are ranging from $7,500 to $35,000 though the bonus levels are significantly lower than all-time highs of 2007.
Cravath Swaine & Moore kicked off the bonus season last week by announcing bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $35,000 for its associates, who have been employed at the firm prior to September 1, 2010. This year, senior most associates will receive an increased amount of $5,000 to $35,000.
Not to be outdone, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy have also announced that year-end bonuses for its associates would be in the $5,000 to $35,000 range, depending on the number of years they have been with the firm.
While Cravath associates will receive their bonuses on Dec. 10, 2010, Skadden and Milbank associates will receive their bonuses on Dec. 17, 2010 and Jan 15, 2011 respectively.
On Monday, Weil, Gotshal & Manges also released an internal memo to its associates that said they will be paid 2010 bonuses that are commensurate with bonuses paid by peer firms. The law firm will pay the bonuses on Dec. 23, 2010.
Bonuses have over the last three years fallen significantly from the all-time highs of 2007, when associates at top New York firms could expect year-end bonuses of $35,000 to $60,000 and special bonuses of $10,000 to $50,000. Special bonuses are almost non-existent in most law firms now.
However, according to Above the Law, this year Kirkland is expected to shatter the Cravath bonus scale for 2010.