Litigation boutiques smash associate bonus scale set by bigger firms

One firm says one in five associates will get paid at least US$500,000 this year

Litigation boutiques smash associate bonus scale set by bigger firms

Two boutique firms in the US known for their work on high-stakes litigation have again smashed the bonus scale set by their much larger counterparts.

Both Susman Godfrey and Washington, DC’s Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz are both giving associates much higher bonuses this year than BigLaw firms. This is not the first time the two firms have topped bigger firms in year-end bonuses.

The current scale at the largest law firms in the US this year was set by Milbank in early November. The bonuses are as follows:

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  • Class of 2019 – US$15,000
  • Class of 2018 – US$15,000
  • Class of 2017 – US$25,000
  • Class of 2016 – US$50,000
  • Class of 2015 – US$65,000
  • Class of 2014 – US$80,000
  • Class of 2013 – US$90,000
  • Class of 2012 – US$100,000
  • Class of 2011 – US$100,000

While not as large as Susman Godfrey’s bonuses, the Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz scale is nothing to scoff at. The Washington, DC-based firm’s bonuses are still 50% more than the going market rate at:

  • Class of 2019: US$22,500 (pro-rated)
  • Class of 2018: US$22,500
  • Class of 2017: US$37,500
  • Class of 2016: US$75,000
  • Class of 2015: US$97,500
  • Class of 2014: US$120,000
  • Class of 2013: US$135,000
  • Class of 2012 and senior: US$150,000

The Susman Godfrey associate bonuses blow even those larger bonuses out of the water. This year, the Houston-based boutique is giving out:

  • Class of 2017: US$115,000
  • Class of 2016: US$120,000
  • Class of 2015: US$130,000
  • Class of 2014: US$160,000
  • Class of 2013: US$180,000
  • Class of 2012: US$200,000
  • Class of 2011 or earlier: US$235,000

It said that more than 20% of its associates will have total compensation of at least US$500,000 for 2019.

Susman Godfrey does not have associates who graduated 2018 and 2019 as the firm requires each new associate to successfully complete a clerkship in the federal courts level. Many of the associates complete two clerkships, including some with the US Supreme Court.

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