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Davis Polk, Weil Match Cravath Year-End Bonus Scale (1)

Dec. 1, 2020, 7:04 PMUpdated: Dec. 1, 2020, 8:22 PM

Davis Polk & Wardwell and Weil Gotshal & Manges have matched the year-end bonuses announced by Big Law competitors, adding on to special fall bonuses that both firms awarded to associates earlier this year on a scale Davis Polk originated.

The announcement means that the most senior associates at both firms may pocket up to $140,000 of bonuses in a busy 2020.

Davis Polk’s year-end bonuses were announced in a memo from the firm’s senior leadership team obtained by Bloomberg Law.

“It was important to the partnership not only to acknowledge the exceptional commitment to our Firm, our clients and to each other that you consistently demonstrate — but also to provide some degree of certainty in a very uncertain time,” said the memo. It added associates will receive their bonus Dec. 15.

Year-end bonuses at Davis Polk will follow the pay scale announced by Cravath early last week that ranges from $15,000 for its first-year associates to $100,000 for its senior associates.

In an email to its U.S. associates on Tuesday, Weil executive partner Barry Wolf announced that the firm would also be matching the Cravath scale on year-end bonuses, which will be paid out on Jan. 29.

Unlike peers that awarded fall bonuses based class year, Weil tied its special bonuses to annualized hours worked during Jan. 1 through Aug. 30.

Davis Polk made a splash back in September when it rewarded associates for their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic with extra bonus cash.

Following Cooley’s announcement of appreciation bonuses for its associates, ranging from $2,500 to $7,500, Davis Polk said it would pay its associates special bonuses ranging from $7,500 for first-year associates and up to $40,000 for its most senior associates.

Weil soon followed Davis Polk’s scale, along with several other Big Law firms including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Debevoise & Plimpton, Latham & Watkins, Shearman & Sterling, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Others like Cravath, Paul Weiss and Kirkland & Ellis declined. However, many of those firms that opted out of fall bonuses have added them into associates’ year-end payouts.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Clifford Chance, Debevoise & Plimpton, Milbank, Paul Weiss, Ropes & Gray, and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom are all among the law firms that are set to pay their associates up to $140,000 in total bonuses this year.

(Updated with Weil bonus information throughout)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Tom P. Taylor at