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Susman Godfrey Bests Cravath with ‘Extraordinary’ Bonuses

Dec. 10, 2018, 5:39 PM

Litigation firm Susman Godfrey announced Dec.10 that it will give out “extraordinary” associate bonuses beginning at $110,000.

The firm’s median bonus scale will start at a $110,000 baseline for the partnership class of 2023, and reach a median of $225,000 for the partnership class of 2018.

The sky-high bonuses come at a time when the firm is touting record numbers. Gross revenues and profits “this year will be the highest in the firm’s history,” Susman Godfrey said in an announcement.

“We had a fantastic year and wanted to reward our associates, who helped make it great,” Managing Partner Neal S. Manne told Bloomberg Law.

“Apparently the bonuses we are giving to our associates put us far above Cravath and all other firms,” Manne said. He said that though the firm “tries to be a market leader on bonuses,” it didn’t design its bonuses “based on what Cravath or any other firm did.”

Susman Godfrey’s bonuses have recently exceeded the “Cravath scale,” which traditionally sets the standard for associate bonuses. This year, Cravath, which arranges bonuses by law school class graduation year, offered its newest associates $15,000 bonuses and capped off the scale at $100,000 for the law school class of 2010.

Manne explained that one reason for the high scale at Susman Godfrey is the experience incoming associates have. All associates must complete a federal judicial clerkship before joining the firm.

“So the $110,000 (median) bonus group is mostly made up of associates who graduated from law school in 2016,” he said. “They then spent a year clerking, and typically joined our firm in the Fall of 2017 after their clerkship. Now, they’ve spent all of 2018 at our firm and are receiving large bonuses,” Manne said.

This year’s partnership class received median bonuses of $225,000. They are: Davida Brook, Cory Buland , Adam Carlis, Mark Hatch-Miller, and Andres Healy.

The firm also made headlines this year with one of the most generous parental leave policies in the industry, offering unlimited, gender-neutral parental leave.

Susman Godfrey has about 125 attorneys in four offices in the U.S. The firm has a six-year partnership track for associates joining the firm, with exceptions made for those who have completed clerkships with the U.S. Supreme Court.