Milbank said Thursday that its first-year associates are taking home a $15,000 year-end bonus while senior associates receive up to a $100,000 bonus.
The bonuses sit on the same pay scale announced by Cravath, Swaine & Moore in November 2018, according to a memo obtained by The American Lawyer.
Milbank’s announcement kicks off Big Law associate bonus season, coming even a week before Cravath’s uncharacteristically early announcement Nov. 19, 2018. Above the Law first reported the Milbank bonuses Thursday.
Milbank was also the first mover last year in raising associate salaries, setting the bar for other big law firms last summer by increasing their first-year associate salaries to $190,000. Cravath soon after matched the first-year salaries but raised the salary scale for mid-level and senior associates.
Milbank’s timing was not lost on many legal market observers. “The timing is sort of surprising,” said Nathan Peart, the managing director of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s associate practice group. “Obviously, there’s a war on talent. Firms want to be seen as an early leader in setting market rates, and it shows they feel confident in the market next year.”