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Cadwalader, Akin Gump, Pillsbury to Hand Out Associate Bonuses

March 30, 2021, 6:53 PM

Cadwalader, Akin Gump, and Pillsbury have entered the associate bonus race, matching a pair of spring and fall bonuses announced by Davis Polk earlier this month that several firms have since followed.

A Cadwalader memo said the firm is dividing its bonus payments equally, with its first-years receiving payments of $6,000 in July and February 2022, and the most senior associates pocketing up to $32,000 in those two rounds.

Cadwalader departs from most Big Law bonus announcements made in recent weeks in that its second special bonus payment falls in the 2022 calendar year, rather than in the second half of 2021.

In memos viewed by Bloomberg Law, Akin Gump and Pillsbury are offering associates bonuses ranging from $4,500 for its first-year associates to $22,500 for its sixth years and above in the spring, and fall bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $37,000. Both will be paid out in May and October.

The firms are expected to provide conventional year-end bonuses in addition to special bonuses.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Davis Polk & Wardwell kicked off the bonus race earlier this month, offering up to $64,000 for senior attorneys. Since then, more than 20 law firms have matched the pair of bonuses, including Cravath Swaine & Moore, Latham & Watkins, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Weil Gotshal & Manges, and White & Case.

Business at law firms is booming despite the coronavirus pandemic, and they’ve turned to these bonuses in order to recruit and retain their associates. However, amid a hot associate job market and the threat of increased lawyer burnout, money might not be enough to keep associates in their seats.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Chris Opfer at

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