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Cravath Rolls Out Associate Bonuses, Matching Last Year’s Scale

Nov. 30, 2022, 2:55 AM

Cravath, Swaine & Moore, one of the perennial leaders in associate compensation, is matching last year’s scale for annual bonuses.

The Wall Street law firm will pay seniority-based bonuses ranging from $15,000 for newer lawyers to $105,000 for those in the class of 2016, the firm announced in an internal memo.

The scale announced on Tuesday does not include year-end bonus amounts for associates from the class of 2015. The extra payments will be made on Dec. 16, the firm said in the memo.

A frenzied market in 2021 created a talent war that saw many Big Law firms hand their associates a series of bonuses to keep and recruit the lawyers needed to the work demanded by clients. But as the work has slowed in 2022, so have the big paychecks.

Cravath increased associate salaries in January, ranging from $215,000 for first-year lawyers to $415,000 for its most senior associates. The scale matched salaries for first-years announced by Milbank, the first to roll out pay bumps, and followed rival Davis Polk & Wardwell with additional increases associates at the four-year mark or higher.

Baker McKenzie broke the silence on the annual bonus front last week, announcing it would match Cravath’s 2021 annual bonus scale. Boies Schiller Flexner also said it would match last year’s scale, but also tack on even more extra pay for its top billers.

Davis Polk, which has set associate compensation highs in recent years, and other Cravath peers have yet to announce their annual bonus scales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at mtribe@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com