Associates at the elite NYC firms get lucky
New York-based firms have gotten into the holiday spirit, rushing to hand associates fat across-the-board bonuses.
But San Francisco Bay Area-based firms don't seem to be in any rush to match them -- at least, not yet.
The bonus boom started in October, when Sullivan & Cromwell announced it would pay associates an interim bonus of $10,000 to $20,000. Last week, Sullivan threw in additional bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000.
Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett came back with bonuses ranging from $30,000 for first-years on up to $60,000 for senior classes. Cravath, Swaine & Moore is also paying out bonuses between $30,000 and $50,000.
Consultants say big bonuses reflect rising revenues as well as renewed worries about hanging on to talent.
"I think the bonuses are strong, and it is a sign that firms are feeling confident about next year," said Peter Zeughauser, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based consultant. "It is a sign they are optimistic about the future."
"For some of the smaller and mid-sized firms, this isn't welcome news," added Blane Prescott, a shareholder with Hildebrandt International in San Francisco. "There are certainly segments of the profession that aren't doing as well.
"What you are starting to see now is a segmentation. There is a top end of the market that competes with the biggest firms ... and there are more firms that recognize they can't afford to compete."