Paltry $30,000 Bonus Could Kill Lawyers' Morale: BigLaw Associate

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Times are still kind of tight for lawyers, but big dogs Quinn Emanuel, Sullivan & Cromwell and Cahill Gordon are actually paying out mid-year bonuses.The reactions are mixed at the firms, with associates at Quinn Emanuel — a major corporate litigation firm — complaining about the amount even though bonuses before year’s end are unusual at many firms, Above the Law reported Monday.

Quinn Emanuel associates received anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000 depending on seniority and how much they work, according to Above The Law.

“Not as good as last year, but better than most every other firm,” a source told Above The Law.

However, another QE associate took a less pragmatic view of the firm’s mid-year payout.

“Given how much associates work and how much the firm makes, it could and should have been higher,” a different source told Above The Law. “Morale will decrease until pay goes up or hours go down.”

But, compared to spring bonuses offered at Sullivan & Cromwell, QE associates made bank.

Sullivan & Cromwell — which specialises in domestic and cross-border M&A, finance and corporate transactions — broke down bonuses by class, meaning the class of 2011 only received $1,000, Above The Law reported in May. On the high end of the spectrum, the class of 2006 pulled in a $5,000 bonus.

First-through-third-year associates at Cahill Gordon, a Wall Street firm that focuses on corporate finance, raked in $5,000, Above The Law reported. More experienced associates brought home $10,000.

While Cahill’s bonuses are bit lower than what the firm offered last year, they’re still pretty consistent with amounts offered in the past.

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