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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

THE BUCKS STOP HERE? – Has Big Law finally put its big foot down on fall bonuses? In mid-September, Cooley kicked off the controversial trend of rewarding associates for their work during the pandemic. Davis Polk set the scale shortly thereafter, prompting several other firms to follow suit. But after Kirkland & Ellis became the first Am Law 200 firm to let the bonus bandwagon pass it by, Cravath, O’Melveny & Myers, Paul Weiss, Wharton & Garrison and Fried Frank all abstained as well. As Dylan Jackson reports, the pushback on bonuses from some of Big Law’s most prestigious and profitable firms may be an indication that they don’t feel the need to dangle any additional lures to retain and recruit top-tier associates. Bowing out of the bonus battle may also be about optics at a time when much of corporate America is tightening the purse strings. Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said as much in a firm memo, noting that, given the “economic trauma” COVID-19 has inflicted on clients and others, “[p]roviding a special cash reward in direct response to the pandemic does not feel right at this time.”

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