IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN - In an increasingly unpredictable world, the familiar cycle of large law firms one-upping each other with associate bonuses while clients and other onlookers boo them is as comforting as mom’s chicken soup. As Law.com’s Patrick Smith reports, Cravath, Swaine & Moore has become the first major law firm to announce its year-end bonus structure for 2021. The firm has upped the ante from the status quo of the previous two years, giving a prorated $15,000 bonus to first-year associates and $115,000 to those in year eight. The new amounts show significant increases from the previous bonus schedule, set by Milbank in 2019 and followed through 2020. That scale saw the same $15,000 first-year bonus, but topped out at $100,000 for eighth-year associates.
COMING DUE - Here’s some more comforting news, assuming you’re a bankruptcy lawyer and not a struggling company: there appears to be plenty of optimism among the bankruptcy bar that a spike in work is on the not-too-distant horizon. Bankruptcy work saw the largest decline of any practice area during the third quarter, according to the Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Index. The report tallied a 12.2% decline in work in that space between July, August and September and the same time frame in 2020. Yet, as Law.com’s Andrew Maloney reports, law firm business leaders also expressed more confidence in the growth potential in bankruptcy than any other practice area, according to a recent survey. About 82% of respondents said they expected either moderate or high growth in bankruptcy next year. “With some of these practices, even outside the context of this survey, we still hear about a high degree of optimism. And bankruptcy is an example,” said Bill Josten, manager of enterprise content for Thomson Reuters. “There’s this sense that the shoe has to drop at some point.”