Bonus structures?

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Bonus structures?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 13, 2018 2:20 pm

I’m looking to move firms and I have been perusing bonus letters/emails to see who gets what and stuff. I stumbled across a firm that I’m considering (Goodwin) and saw that only 70% of associates get market. Then I read Kirkland’s and saw that people get paid half of market (and therefore I’m assuming that some associates probably get zilch). Is that normal for a lot of these big firms? I was always under the impression that the biggest firms paid everyone a market bonus if they advertised the market scale.

Anyone have any insight? I’m looking mainly at NY or Chicago so if anyone could tell me how many associates get “shafted” at the NY or Chicago offices, that’d be great.

I know bonus shouldn’t be the deciding factor, and it isn’t, but I’m currently at a non-market paying firm in the southeast (think Charlotte/Atlanta) and I’ve been factoring in a market bonus for cost of living.

shock259

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby shock259 » Sun May 13, 2018 9:10 pm

Curious - where are you getting the 50% or 70% numbers?

Most firms will pay you your full bonus if you hit your billable hour requirement. Some firms have a fluffier process, but it is usually only to give bonuses (or partial bonuses) to people that do not hit the billable requirement. Outside of some extraordinary circumstances (like the Baker Mackenzie fiasco from last year), I don't think there's many cases of people making hours and not getting their full bonus. If you don't hit hours, some firms will give you none of the bonus, and some will give you a piece of it.

One caveat is that many (probably most) firms don't pay NY market bonuses outside of NY. So your "full" bonus would likely be a lot less than NY, particularly if your firm is already paying less than market salary. I would ask people in the office what the structure is before accepting.

BayCat24

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby BayCat24 » Sun May 13, 2018 9:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I’m looking to move firms and I have been perusing bonus letters/emails to see who gets what and stuff. I stumbled across a firm that I’m considering (Goodwin) and saw that only 70% of associates get market. Then I read Kirkland’s and saw that people get paid half of market (and therefore I’m assuming that some associates probably get zilch). Is that normal for a lot of these big firms? I was always under the impression that the biggest firms paid everyone a market bonus if they advertised the market scale.

Anyone have any insight? I’m looking mainly at NY or Chicago so if anyone could tell me how many associates get “shafted” at the NY or Chicago offices, that’d be great.

I know bonus shouldn’t be the deciding factor, and it isn’t, but I’m currently at a non-market paying firm in the southeast (think Charlotte/Atlanta) and I’ve been factoring in a market bonus for cost of living.


Where are you getting this information?

Anonymous User
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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun May 13, 2018 11:40 pm

https://abovethelaw.com/2017/01/associa ... good-news/

https://abovethelaw.com/2018/01/associa ... on-coming/

I got the info from above the law (links above, not sure if I’m allowed to provide links, so mods can delete if not allowed). 68% of associates at Goodwin received bonus, period, in 2016. 77% in 2017.

https://abovethelaw.com/2017/12/kirklan ... t-bonuses/

Below class rating got .5x market at Kirkland.

M458

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby M458 » Mon May 14, 2018 1:01 am

Anonymous User wrote:https://abovethelaw.com/2017/01/associate-bonus-watch-no-news-is-good-news/

https://abovethelaw.com/2018/01/associa ... on-coming/

I got the info from above the law (links above, not sure if I’m allowed to provide links, so mods can delete if not allowed). 68% of associates at Goodwin received bonus, period, in 2016. 77% in 2017.

https://abovethelaw.com/2017/12/kirklan ... t-bonuses/

Below class rating got .5x market at Kirkland.


Below class rating at K&E is pretty rare for 1st-3rd years and essentially means you're about to get fired.

PMan99

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby PMan99 » Mon May 14, 2018 1:13 am

It varies widely from firm to firm, particularly once you get out of the top 5 or 10 or whatever NY-based biglaw firms (don't care enough to look it up right now).

A lot of firms will deny bonuses based on not hitting hours or as part of a black-box review process. Some firns will deny you a bonus if you're one hour short, others will give you more leeway. Some are just cheap and don't really give market bonuses except for the top couple of performers in a class, others give everyone the same bonus regardless of your reviews. Some act like Cravath for junior associates and then start dramatically cutting back for older associates. Sometimes it depends on the particular office. Hard to know unless you have someone on the inside who is willing to give you particular information about a particular firm.

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smokeylarue

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby smokeylarue » Mon May 14, 2018 4:52 am

A lot (most?) firms require you to hit hours to become eligible for a bonus. Seems very reasonable/realistic to me that only 70% of associates hit their hours at a particular firm (meaning that 30% didn’t).

hlsperson1111

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby hlsperson1111 » Mon May 14, 2018 1:06 pm

I work at a firm with a fluffy, opaque bonus structure. My SO used to work at Goodwin. The short story is that it varies highly by firm.

At my firm, you need to account for a bunch of hours (won't give the exact number but it's above 2k), which includes both billable and a huge range of non billable work (business development, pro bono, going to community events, CLE, doing stuff with the summers, etc.). You are theoretically bonus eligible if you hit the overall hours threshold, but your bonus will vary widely depending on how many of your hours were billable and your reviews. Our median bonus is the market and our mean bonus is a hair below it.

Anonymous User
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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 15, 2018 4:43 pm

So let me get this straight...

Even at some of these market paying firms, there is a chance that a third of the associates don’t get any bonus?

gregfootball2001

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby gregfootball2001 » Tue May 15, 2018 5:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So let me get this straight...

Even at some of these market paying firms, there is a chance that a third of the associates don’t get any bonus?

Good use of anon.

Sure, many firms have billable requirements. Make your hours, get a bonus. Make hours plus lots of hours more, usually get a bigger bonus. Don't make hours, don't get a bonus. Those people just have to cry themselves to sleep with their $160k.

Anonymous User
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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue May 15, 2018 6:05 pm

^ I used anon because I’m OP and I specifically stated where I’m considering an offer from.

minnbills

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby minnbills » Tue May 15, 2018 6:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So let me get this straight...

Even at some of these market paying firms, there is a chance that a third of the associates don’t get any bonus?


If you are at a reputable firm and make your hours, you will get your bonus

shock259

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Re: Bonus structures?

Postby shock259 » Wed May 16, 2018 11:52 am

Anonymous User wrote:So let me get this straight...

Even at some of these market paying firms, there is a chance that a third of the associates don’t get any bonus?


I think it's more accurate to say that maybe 1/3 or 1/4 don't make their hours, but basically yes - you are correct. Anecdotally those numbers seem a little to me (I would think more people hit their hours), but I definitely don't have the hard data to back up that.

As a junior associate, you can influence your hours to some extent, but they are somewhat outside of your control. I'd also ask the associates in the group you're joining what they've billed for the last few years. Make sure you do this after you receive an offer, as it could be construed as trying to see if you can coast. If everyone is doing 2500 in the group and you do good work, shouldn't be a problem.



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