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
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.