“Special” bonuses are back with new payments from Paul Weiss associates


Signage is visible outside the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP law firm in Washington, DC, United States, August 30, 2020. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

  • Bonuses for “exceptional” performances to be paid in mid-November and early next year
  • More law firms to follow as competition for talent remains tight

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(Reuters) – Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison are softening the pay of some partners and advisers with a new round of “discretionary special bonuses,” according to an internal memo, highlighting the challenges many law firms face to keep their best young lawyers.

The New York-based firm will pay the bonuses in installments in mid-November and early next year, rewarding “partners and counsel who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to our firm and our clients. “President Brad Karp said in Wednesday’s note.

The payouts do not replace Paul Weiss’ traditional year-end bonuses, Karp said. The note did not detail the amount of bonuses or how their distribution will be decided.

A spokesperson for the firm confirmed the authenticity of the note, which was posted on the legal blog Above the Law, but declined to give further details.

Michelle Fivel, a partner at legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, said she had “little doubt” that large law firms would continue to use non-traditional bonuses to stay competitive and meet intense demand from firms. customers, especially for corporate work.

“They are all trying to attract talent, especially on the transactional side,” Fivel said. “And the money is a big lever that they try to squeeze during the recruiting process and the retention process.”

The trend of special bonuses took hold in the industry last fall, as the heavy workloads for junior and middle lawyers came up against the added stress and family responsibilities of the pandemic. Willkie Farr & Gallagher launched another round of bonuses in March, pledging to give associates $ 7,500 to $ 40,000 depending on the school year. Shortly thereafter, Davis Polk raised the stake, announcing two-payment bonuses ranging from $ 12,000 to $ 64,000.

Many companies also increased salaries over the summer, with the highest salaries in the market rising from $ 190,000 to over $ 200,000 for first-year associates in some markets.

Read more:

Are Big Law’s “special” associate bonuses here to stay?

Some companies rush to match associate raises while others watch and wait

Passing Milbank, Davis Polk Increases Year 1 Associates Salary to $ 202,500

Xiumei Dong

Xiumei Dong covers legal industry news, with a focus on the strategy and growth of law firms, in-house legal counsel and the Washington, DC legal market. Contact her at Xiumei.Dong@thomsonreuters.com.


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