(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
Second- through sixth-year associates at bonus-happy Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan will receive supplemental rewards based on the high-powered litigation firm’s performance, chairman John Quinn announced in a memo Tuesday.
But the memo, first noted by Above the Law and subsequently obtained by The American Lawyer, has a catch. Associates seeking the extra riches can’t cash in unless they agree to stick around Quinn Emanuel for another three years.
According to the memo, the firm will contribute a portion of its profits to a bonus pool, which Quinn Emanuel will distribute to eligible associates three years later if they remain at the litigation powerhouse. The first provisional award will be in March 2018. An associate who begins their second year in 2017 could receive a payout every year from 2021 to 2025 as long as they stayed at the firm.
The new bonus, which will be in addition to current associates’ existing bonuses and salaries, is intended “to attract and retain second through sixth year associates and, to some degree, link associate compensation to the performance of the firm,” according to Quinn’s memo.
Peter Calamari, the firm’s New York office managing partner and one of the bonus plan’s architects, said the program had been in the works for several months and “wasn’t triggered by events.”
“We wanted to make a statement to the people that come in with us and spend their careers with us,” Calamari said. “We have always been a pretty creative firm when it comes to associate compensation and work conditions. Things occur to us that will make our associates happy, and we implement them.”
Quinn Emanuel’s past creative compensation efforts have included $35,000 signing bonuses for third-year law students who applied and were hired by the firm, a move that came after it mostly did away with its summer associate program. The firm also reportedly treated the few summer associates it did bring on in 2016 to an all-expenses paid trip to Iceland.
Partners at Quinn Emanuel have also seen a bump in compensation recently, with the firm seeing its profits per equity partner break the $5 million mark in 2016. The 718-lawyer firm, which is keen on growing in London and this week opened its ninth European office in Stuttgart, Germany, also reportedly initiated discussions about a potential combination with Williams & Connolly, although the latter’s leadership quickly denied any plans to merge.