Paul Weiss Forgoes Special ‘Covid-19' Bonuses for Associates

Oct. 6, 2020, 3:35 PM

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison’s chair says the firm will pass on the special “pandemic” bonuses for associates that several Big Law firms have handed out in recent weeks.

Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said in an email to associates and counsel viewed by Bloomberg Law that “announcing such a bonus now would not be appropriate.”

“So many of our clients and others across our community are experiencing unprecedented economic trauma, including the shuttering of their businesses and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, as a direct result of this pandemic,” Karp wrote.

“Providing a special cash reward in direct response to the pandemic does not feel right at this time,” he added.

The firm came to the decision after consulting with the Paul Weiss associate committee, partners, and several clients, according to Karp.

Though the firm is forgoing bonuses now, Paul Weiss will recognize its attorneys’ contributions in its regular year-end December bonuses and pledges “to retain our position as a market leader in compensation, taking into account any special bonuses paid by our peer firms,” Karp said. He noted the firm will also recognize and reward the efforts of its staff this year as well.

The distribution of special bonuses has become a trend this fall for several of Big Law’s wealthier firms.

Last month Cooley announced special “appreciation bonuses” to thank its associates for their hard work during the coronavirus crisis, ranging from $2,500 to $7,500. A day later, Davis Polk & Wardwell said it would pay associates special bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000, depending on tenure. Both firms said that these payouts will not affect associates’ usual year-end bonuses.

Milbank, Debevoise & Plimpton, Shearman & Sterling, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Sullivan & Cromwell have also jumped on the special bonus bandwagon.

However, Paul Weiss is among several Big Law firms that have announced that they would skip issuing special bonuses to associates. Cravath Swaine & Moore, Kirkland & Ellis, and O’Melveny & Myers have all opted out of the new bonus war.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com

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