NY Firm Increases Year-End Bonuses
By Anthony Lin; New York Lawyer: November 29, 2004

  Sullivan & Cromwell has announced higher year-end bonuses for associates this year than in 2003. The firm will pay from $20,000 for first-year associates to $30,000 for senior associates, compared with last year's $17,500 to $27,500.
  Sullivan & Cromwell associates this year also got October bonuses of $10,000 to $20,000. Last year, no such bonus was paid.
  The two bonuses will push total compensation to $155,000 for first-year associates, the highest level since 2000, when the booming dot-com economy boosted associate bonuses to $40,000 for first-years and $100,000 for senior associates.
  A partner said this year's bonuses, which will be paid to almost all associates without regard to hours, reflected the improved economy.
  "There was already a big drop-off in compensation," said the partner. "We didn't think it was fair to keep it there as things got better."
  The partner added that there are no plans to increase base salaries, starting at $125,000 for most associates, though he said senior associates will probably see a modest raise.
  Sullivan & Cromwell's move to increase compensation will put pressure on the other major firms to follow suit or push the numbers even higher. In recent years, other leading Manhattan firms like Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Davis Polk & Wardwell have generally matched one another in total yearly compensation. Other firms have also announced similar bonuses in the past, though many have made bonuses contingent on hours billed or other performance requirements.