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February 15, 2011 12:06 PM

Freshfields Matches Cravath Spring Bonuses for U.S. Associates

Posted by Julie Triedman

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer gave its 82 U.S.–based associates a Valentine on Monday.

Echoing moves that began late last month by Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Davis Polk & Wardwell, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and that have continued into the week with announcements by additional firms, the U.S. managing partner of Freshfields told associates Monday it was awarding them a special supplemental bonus, the first since before the recession. 

The bonuses, which range from $2,500 for the class of 2010 to $20,000 for the class of 2006 and earlier, match the scale set by Cravath on January 31, as reported by The Am Law Daily here.

That scale offers somewhat more generous extra payments for those at the middle and top end of the experience scale than the bonuses announced by Sullivan & Cromwell and several other firms earlier in January. In addition to the spring bonuses, the firm has generally matched the top of the New York legal market in the regular bonus season in December, a firm spokesman confirmed.

In a letter to associates obtained by The Am Law Daily, U.S. regional managing partner Julian Pritchard wrote that on behalf of the partnership, he offered "sincere appreciation and gratitude for your significant contribution to our U.S. practice." The payouts will be made May 15.

The Am Law Daily contacted Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy, two other London-based firms with significant numbers of U.S.–based associates, to see what, if any, bonus plans they have. Clifford Chance has 120 associates in New York, and 28 more in Washington, D.C.; Allen & Overy has 86 associates based in the U.S. 

Last year, the two firms roughly matched the the New York market for annual bonuses, as reported by sibling publication Legal Week and Above the Law.

An A&O spokeswoman in New York told The Am Law Daily that the firm is discussing the issue of spring bonuses, but has not made any decision yet. A call to Clifford Chance's New York managing partner Craig Medwick was not immediately returned.

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