Any doubt that Davis Polk successfully redefined the 2021 bonus scale is melting away in real time. Firms are rapidly announcing bonus matches, providing the frenzied bonus atmosphere eerily lacking in the immediate wake of the original Cravath memo. It’s an exciting time to be an associate when firms offer a 15 percent bonus hike and the market offers a collective, “gee, that doesn’t seem like enough.” Now Skadden — Am Law’s number 5 firm in revenue — has thrown its weight behind the new scale and we’ve finally got some momentum behind this thing.
Here are the numbers from the Skadden memo, but don’t get too excited… we’ll explain below.
Those paying close attention to these announcements will note that the special bonuses are bigger than the announced Davis Polk scale. But don’t be deceived: this is a direct match. Well, except for the senior associates on the upper tier of that two-tiered base bonus, but that’s neither here nor there when it comes to the scale itself.
The discrepancy comes from the fact that Skadden’s spring bonus memo broke that special bonus into two tranches, with one to be paid out in December. Those were $6K to $32K bonuses, exactly corresponding to the premium over the $4K-$23K special bonus component of the Davis Polk scale.
And remember, the firm is also handing out some free tech, with an iPad Pro gift. It was probably tacky to send out a gift notice for anything other than bonuses during the end of November. The firm knows it’s going to be setting bonuses within the next two weeks — sending out “gift” emails about anything else during the bonus season before actual bonuses is just a tease no matter how nice it may be. But associates will certainly let bygones be bygones at this point.
If anyone’s interested, the full memo is on the next page.
Remember everyone, we depend on your tips to stay on top of this stuff. So when your firm matches, please text us (646-820-8477) or email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Matches”). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file.
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Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.