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Cadwalader, Proskauer Match Associate Year-End Bonus Scale (3)

Nov. 13, 2019, 3:29 PMUpdated: Nov. 13, 2019, 8:55 PM

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Proskauer Rose have become the latest firms to reveal their year-end bonuses for associates, matching the scale announced by Milbank last week.

Cadwalader told attorneys in a memo that it would match Milbank and other competitor firms on Wednesday.

Proskauer also confirmed it will match the bonus scale.

The bonuses will be paid out to Cadwalader lawyers in the last full week of February 2020. Those associates and special counsel that billed 2,200 hours or more will be awarded bonuses equal to 120% of the amounts listed on the bonus scale, the firm’s memo said.

Toward the end of each year, associates in Big Law turn their attention to the bonus race. Firms, especially those in New York, have periodically upped the ante with higher bonuses, which can be a powerful tool for recruitment and retention.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore said on Nov.11 that it would match Milbank’s year end bonus scale, which ranges from $15,000 for first-year associates up to $100,000 for senior associates, the same range offered last year.

The decision by Cravath, which had traditionally been first mover in associate compensation and bonuses until Milbank moved first in 2018, set off a wave of announcements from other firms in Big Law.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson announced Nov. 12 it would match the scale set by Milbank. The firm also noted that associates would be eligible for a premium of 15% or 30% above the standard bonus amount.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Clifford Chance also made similar announcements to their associates.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also announced Wednesday that it would match for its associates in New York and Washington. The firm will pay out bonuses on Dec.13.

The full bonus scale for associate classes at the firms is as follows:

Class of 2019 – $15,000 (prorated)
Class of 2018 – $15,000
Class of 2017 – $25,000
Class of 2016 – $50,000
Class of 2015 – $65,000
Class of 2014 – $80,000
Class of 2013 – $90,000
Class of 2012 – $100,000
Class of 2011 and above – $100,000

(Updated to include Freshfields' announcement.)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at

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