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Fourth-ranking Sutherland Asbill & Brennan adopted a New York tradition virtually unknown in Atlanta. The firm paid “boom year” bonuses based on firm profits, not associate merit, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000. “Hours were up in every practice area in 1998. That doesn’t always happen with our firm,” says managing partner James L. Henderson III. In 1997, Sutherland was hit by attrition and posted the smallest revenue increases of any of Atlanta’s top firms. Expanded work for Ford Motor Co., and representation of states and school districts in school adequacy cases were cited as factors driving the increase.

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