US law firm duo dish out COVID bonuses to London lawyers

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Associates at Simpson Thacher and Akin Gump rewarded up to £31,000 for lockdown endeavours

UK lawyers at two US law firms have been handed substantial bonuses.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s London lot will receive the same cash rewards as their US colleagues — $7,500 (£5,800) for 2019 qualifiers, through to $40,000 (£31,000) for 2012 qualifiers — in recognition of their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are immensely grateful for your hard work and perseverance under these trying circumstances,” the firm’s chairman, Bill Dougherty, wrote in a memo to staff. And it appears the special windfalls won’t affect year-end bonuses at the firm. “We do not anticipate this special bonus will impact year-end bonus levels, which we expect to be at least consistent with last year’s amounts,” Dougherty continued.

Fellow US outfit Akin Gump is splashing the cash, too, with lawyers in London, the US and Hong Kong receiving bonuses on the same scale as those dished out by Simpson Thacher. The rewards will be paid next month and won’t impact year-end bonuses.

The firm’s chair, Kim Koopersmith, said: “We are extremely grateful for all you have contributed to the firm and our clients this year. The level of commitment has been intense as we work to meet the needs of our clients every day. You have been making extraordinary contributions in the most challenging of circumstances.”

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Last month Legal Cheek reported that Milbank associates across London, the US, Asia and São Paul, were set to receive “special one-time bonuses” of between $7,500 and $40,000, in appreciation of their efforts during lockdown. Davis Polk, meanwhile, chucked the same cash bonuses at its US associates, although rewards for non-US lawyers will be determined separately. Cooley has also dished out extra cash in recognition of its lawyers’ efforts, including for those in its international offices.

News of the COVID bonuses come just days after two senior law firm partners criticised the soaring salaries earned by some junior lawyers in the City.

“My heart drops when I see newly qualified lawyers in US firms earning more than some of our partners,” said Michael Chissick, managing partner of Fieldfisher. “They don’t need to pay that. It’s not a market rate. They are creating a new market.” Meanwhile, Richard Foley, senior partner at Pinsent Masons, branded the level of pay at some law firms “completely unsustainable”.

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Michael Chissick

WAHHHHH!!!!! Unsustainable!!!! Creating a new market!!!!

No one is allowed to pay people above what I say!!!

*dries eyes with £20 notes*


Dick Foley

Top bantz my old boy, here, have another bottle of Krug.


Kirkland NQ

Pro tip: £20s are far less absorbent than £50s. If those don’t work try a few €500 notes, although experience at the ‘land shows these are better for toilet paper than anything else.


Stealth Layoffs at Kirkland

Meanwhile at Kirkland & Ellis —>> NO Covid-bonuses and stealth layoffs galore:



It’s just all about greed in the end, nothing more.



Genuinely, why can’t mid-large international UK firms do this bonus, or will they? Is the financial situation at those shops that bad in comparison?



Because they don’t have the type of work/clients paying the necessarily high fees in order to pay such bonuses.



Meanwhile MC and SC firms cutting pay and bonuses despite having much more full service insolvency and disputes practices in London that have seen a huge up tick in work over lockdown…


Le Sigh

It’s because they don’t do enough work for those sadistic psychopaths in US private equity funds where the margins are highest.



Genuine question: on the assumption that US firms already require longer hours than most City firms (and the remuneration at US firms is consequentially higher), what sort of hours would these US firms have required of their lawyers in order for these extraordinary bonuses to have been given?



If you are busy as a full time wfh US firm lawyer then your entire existence becomes – bed, desk, bed repeat. You don’t even have the twenty minute commute as a work free respite.



I moved from MC to US and actually work significantly less hours than what I did previously. It depends on your individual circumstances but my thinking is unless you have a sweet deal at the MC With partner backing/mentors etc it’s at least worth trying for the salary uplift.



Many of these firms don’t have hours targets . Everyone in the same class year gets the same bonus regardless of hours – another reason why it’s crazy not to work at a US firm if you’re a city lawyer



Incorrect. You need to be close to hitting an internal annualised hours target. They arent handing out bonuses if youre only sitting on 700hrs for H1



Incorrect. You need to be close to hitting an internal annualised hours target. They arent handing out bonuses if youre only sitting on 700hrs for H1 – but if you are in the 1750-2000 mark you will get one.


US associate

Not at every US firm – I received the standard class bonus despite billing <1200. Maybe some others received a bit more with a multiplier



What US firm are you at – SPB?

US associate

@9.02am: a V10


The MC really needs to stop messing about. With the pay freeze I am nearly 2PQE and still working on NQ money.


Unappreciated SC drone

Pay bands have been reduced at my SC firm, despite the firm doing extremely well. It’s just naked opportunism to push back pay to what it was a couple of years ago, whilst at the same time passing all the risk of the business from partners to the associates.



SPB pumped NQ pay up to £82k lmao, every little helps



Phat waddddd if true



I heard from ROF that CC and LL have stopped their salary freeze and resume raise, with retroactive effect for LL


NQ on 30k

This depresses me.



Be kind.



MUCH more interesting that pathetic stories about discriminatory “diversity” quotas.


Curious Georgey

Hey does anyone know if Jones Day is going to pull a White & Case and increase its NQ salary in the upcoming year ?



Rofl not a chance. JD is a glorified bucketshop



What’s a bucket shop



Jones Day gives a TC that’s not like a TC? Would have to be as organised and proactive af


Mrs Gump

Run, Forrest, Run!


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