Boies Schiller Flexner LLP recently announced its top billers would be receiving annual bonuses as high as $165,000.
According to a Boies Schiller memo viewed by Bloomberg Law, the firm’s bonuses will be tiered, with “extra-extraordinary” bonuses starting at $40,000 for the class of 2022 who billed at least 2,600 hours. Meanwhile, “extraordinary” bonuses will start at $30,000 and go up to $150,000 for associates who billed between 2,350 and 2,599 hours.
Boies Schiller joins Baker McKenzie as the only firms to make year-end bonus announcements at the time of writing.
There has been considerable uncertainty as to how large bonuses would be this year, given the slowdown in transactional markets late in the year.
“This year the bonus news is definitely muted,” said Katherine Loanzon, managing director of Kinney Recruiting.
Boies Schiller will match the scale Baker McKenzie recently announced for those who don’t qualify for top-biller payouts. Those bonuses will range between $20,000 for first-year lawyers and $115,000 for senior associates.
According to the memo, the class of 2022 will receive a prorated $15,000 bonus.
Boies Schiller is continuing the higher-compensation bonus tiers it established last year, when associates could earn up to $140,000 and $150,000 for billing more than 2,350 and 2,600 hours, respectively.
While it is unwise to look too deeply into the bonus announcements of just two firms, they do potentially send the message that the industry is well-positioned, despite the current economic circumstances, according to Major, Lindsay & Africa recruiter Summer Eberhard. They also indicate that while there have indeed been layoffs, not all firms are in similar financial positions, she said.
If this trend continues, and more firms surpass market bonuses for those who bill top hours, “it is a positive signal to associates that may be worried about the industry as a whole that the sky is not falling,” Eberhard said.
However, the fact that the bonuses are being tied to billable hours requirements has left Loanzon wondering how many Big Law firm associates will actually receive bonuses, especially given the recent widespread economic uncertainty and the slowdown in the corporate sector.
“It’s one story announcing bonuses, but if we tie it to a billable hours requirement where a majority of associates are not going to meet that requirement and will not earn a bonus, that’s unfortunate,” Loanzon said. “It’s almost as if the firm is not giving out a bonus.”