Baker McKenzie has announced its annual bonuses for associates, making it the first law firm to hand out extra pay to its junior talent this year.
The international law firm plans to pay US associates bonuses ranging from $20,000 to $115,000, based on seniority, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg Law. The scale ups the amount for first-year associates to $20,000 from $15,000 in 2021 but otherwise largely matches last year’s bonus scale set by Wall Street’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Bonuses will be paid in February. Baker McKenzie’s 2022 scale does not include an additional bonus for associates that billed more than 2,300 hours as it did last year.
The firm was also the first to announce end-of-year bonuses in 2020.
Amid an all-out hiring craze, law firms last year handed out signing, retention and special bonuses, along with salary increases, aimed at attracting and retaining top associate talent. Some senior associates took home more than $500,000-a-year in all.
This year has been completely different. Though several of the top law firms raised salaries again in January, including Baker McKenzie, there’s been silence on the bonus front as transactional work that drove the hiring frenzy last year slowed.
Instead, news of recent layoffs at the likes of Cooley, Kirkland & Ellis and Gunderson Dettmer has reverberated throughout the industry, sparking questions about how a down market might continue to impact associates.