It’s almost the holiday season, and that means it’s time for law firms to start awarding their annual year-end bonuses. And Cravath, Swaine & Moore is again setting the tone for what could be an uptick in law firm bonuses.

Cravath announced its year-end bonuses yesterday, and they are sizably larger than last year’s amounts. The firm’s senior-most associates, who joined the firm in 2004, will receive $60,000; last year, the group received $37,000. The most-junior associates will receive $10,000, a 33 percent increase from last year’s $7,500. Nonetheless, the year-end bonuses still aren’t up to par with pre-recession amounts; Cravath gave first-year associates $45,000 and senior associates $110,000 in 2007.

The bonus uptick is likely due to better business. A Wells Fargo survey recently found that among law firms with more than $2 million in profits per partner, revenue was up 4.9 percent through the third quarter, and net income was up 7.9 percent compared to the same period last year.

Over the years, Cravath has been the first big law firm to announce its year-end bonuses, with other law firms often following suit with similar amounts.

Read Thomson Reuters and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog for more information.

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