Cravath just released their year-end bonuses for associates and it's looking...a lot like last year. Or this. Kicking off bonus season, the firm will be handing out $7,500 to first year associates. Given how much more firms have been billing, this payoff looks pretty sallow. Above The Law expects profits for partners to go up, however. That interlude of joy is just for the partners however, with this sad distinction for associates being drawn:

All-in, pre-tax compensation for a full first-year in 2007 — i.e., a graduate of the class of 2006 — was $205,000. That’s $160,000 (base) + $35,000 (bonus) + $10,000 (special bonus).

All-in, pre-tax compensation for a full first-year at Cravath in 2010 — i.e., a graduate of the class of 2009 — will be $167,500. That’s $160K (base) + $7.5K (bonus) + You’ll take it and like it (special bonus). That’s almost a 20% pay cut for “full” (i.e., non-stub-year) first-year compensation from 2007 to 2010.

While a lot of this may sound like the complaints of the privileged, it's important to remember that huge numbers of lawyers are billing well over 2200 hours of work a year. Given undergrad loans, law school loans and the crippling emotional toll, a bonus that's worth a shitty used car or some rent doesn't sound like all that much!

And, for your reading pleasure, here is the entirety of the Cravath Bonus Memo.

MEMORANDUM FOR ALL LAWYERS

Year-End Bonuses

November 22, 2010

We are pleased to announce that the year-end bonus amount for each associate class is as follows:

Class of 2009 — $7,500
Class of 2008 — $10,000
Class of 2007 — $15,000
Class of 2006 — $20,000
Class of 2005 — $25,000
Class of 2004 — $30,000
Class of 2003 — $35,000

Bonuses will be paid on Friday, December 10. Absent special circumstances (approved by the Managing Partners), an associate must still be at the Firm on December 10 to be eligible for the bonus. The Firm does not apply any billable hour or similar criteria in determining eligibility for associate bonuses. As always, while receipt of the bonus for each individual attorney is dependent on suitable performance at that attorney’s experience level, virtually all of our associates will receive the full bonus.

To be eligible for a bonus, an associate must have been employed at the Firm prior to September 1, 2010. Attorneys who are working part-time will receive a pro-rated portion of the applicable class-level bonus. Bonuses for senior attorneys, specialist attorneys, discovery specialist attorneys and foreign associate attorneys will be determined on an individual basis.

We thank you for your hard work and dedication throughout 2010.

E. R. Chesler
R. H. Baron
C. A. Parker
S. A. Barshay