Bonuses at Law Firms Likely to Remain Flat

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By Sara Randazzo

In a sign that law firms are cautious about where the economy is heading, elite New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP told its junior lawyers Monday that their bonuses won't be larger than they were last year.

The payouts range from less than $15,000 for the newest lawyers to $100,000 for those who have been at the firm seven years or more. The amounts are likely to be matched by peer firms in coming weeks.

During the recession, bonuses dipped as "low" as $35,000 for senior associates—a tidy sum for most Americans, but one that was met with frustration from associates billing upward of 2,000 hours a year. The payouts have risen steadily in recent years.

"At this point, the size of the bonuses is really becoming a big factor in terms of determining an associate's career goals," said Ru Bhatt, a legal recruiter at Major, Lindsey & Africa.

A few years ago, law firm associates were more eager to leave their jobs for positions in corporate legal departments, Mr. Bhatt said. But now, lawyers with several years of experience are becoming a hot commodity at law firms because not enough lawyers were hired in the years following the downturn to meet current needs.

Read more of this feature at The Wall Street Journal.


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