Akin Gump latest to announce spring bonuses for London associates

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Up to £47k

Akin Gump joins a growing number of US law firms awarding their London associates with special spring bonuses of up to $64,000 (£46,500) in recognition of their “exceptional contributions” this past year.

The firm will award associates and counsel in the US, London and Hong Kong with special bonuses in May and October 2021 that match the prevailing market standard.

They’ll receive between $4,500 (£3,300) and $24,000 (£17,400), depending on experience, on 15 May, and a second bonus five months later on 15 October, ranging from $7,500 (£5,400) to $40,000 (£29,000). Taken together, a 2014 qualifier will receive the maximum $64,000 (£46,500) bonus and a 2020 qualifier $12,000 (£8,700).

Akin Gump said that given “we are only a quarter into the year, productivity will not be factored into the May bonus”. It also clarified that its year-end bonuses will not be affected by the special bonus, and that the firm expects to continue with its usual year-end process at the market scale.

“As we pass the one-year anniversary of working remotely and reflect on the many challenges we have faced both collectively and as individuals, the partners would like to recognise the exceptional contributions you have been making,” said Akin Gump partner and chairperson, Kim Koopersmith, in a memo circulated among staff this week. “You have all been a huge part of the success of the firm. Thank you for all that you are continuing to do for our clients and the firm. The level of commitment has been intense and you have all risen to make extraordinary contributions in extraordinary times.”

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Akin Gump’s London lawyers earn upwards of $190,000 (approx. £138,000), Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows, making it one of the highest paying firms in the City. They also received special bonuses of up to $40,000 (£29,000) in the autumn for their lockdown endeavours.

In January of this year, Akin Gump’s London office reported revenue at $149.2 million (£108.2 million), a 19% increase on the previous financial year, with global revenue standing at $1.2 billion (£871.3 million) — a 6.5% increase on 2019.

Ropes & Gray, meanwhile, has announced special spring bonuses of its own. The firm is matching Akin Gump’s scale for associates and counsel in the US and Asia, but those in London will receive special bonuses “adjusted to reflect London’s separate compensation scale”, according to a firm memo.

Ropes & Gray, while unable to confirm the London pay scale, said the instalments will be paid on 30 April and at the end of December. This is in addition to the firm’s regular year-end bonuses.

Ropes & Gray associates in London start on a minimum salary of £130,000, according to our Firms Most List.

It was reported last week that Milbank, Skadden, Paul Hastings and Goodwin Procter had joined the spring bonus party awarding their London associates with up to $64,000 (£46,500) in recognition of their endeavours throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The news piles on pressure to other London-based US law firms to pay out similar awards.

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HFW 4 PQE Associate

̶I̶ ̶f̶e̶e̶l̶ ̶p̶o̶o̶r̶.

I am poor.


The only bonuses we get at IM are paid in peanuts

Not A Simian

Well as they say, if you pay peanuts you get….


Why keep mentioning Goodwin when they don’t even appear on your own Most List?


Debevoise have announced as well




What a clever clogs u must be


And Proskauer

Old Codger

What’s that? Sounds like a shoe polish shop on Jermyn St.


Why are Goodwin, Fried Frank and others not included in your Most Lists, when firms like Willkie, Dechert and others are?


Because these firms refuse to grease Alex’s palms. In fairness, they don’t need publicity by some two-bit legal blog either.

Mrs Gump

Run Forrest! Run!

Why Weil?

The only US firm which hasn’t paid this Covid appreciation bonus to its London office is Weil (although they have paid it to their US associates…)

Given insane London office workloads over the last few months, the office’s extremely high levels of profitability and of course that we’re all supposed to be “one Weil family” this is really disappointing.


Not true. Other US firms, including mine, haven’t matched in London.


Which firms? Name them.




To be clear, MoFo is not even paying these bonuses IN THEIR US OFFICES…


what an absolute joke


Some firms paid COVID special bonuses at the end of 2020. Did these firms that are paying Spring 2021 bonuses also pay out in December? That is the key question in the assessment of whether should all US firms in London follow suit, it seems to me. Any thoughts LC?


Yes. These firms are paying 2021 special bonuses in addition to 2021 year end bonuses and in addition further to the 2020 special bonus.


Yes, all the firms referred to above paid the one off “covid” bonus along with the usual year end bonus at the end of 2020. In the case of Goodwin, these were paid in January 2021.

These “special bonuses” announced over the past week or so are in addition to the “covid” and year end bonuses paid between Dec20 and Jan 21.


Incredible. There are still a number of very profitable US firms in London that have not announced these 2021 special bonuses – despite significant workloads across 2021 (and I bet, even greater profitability than the likes of Akin Gump). When are they going to wake up? (no personal interest whatsoever)


Goodwin have paid December and Spring bonuses

Sceptic turned believer

How can UK firms expect to get the best talent when they are just being outshone like this. The likes of Slaughters, A&O and Freshfields will soon become second rate in the areas of finance and corporate if they are not careful. Training lawyers who will then jump ship at the drop of a hat.

Mr Greenback

Most American firm NQs will pull in north of 160 this year (140 base and 2 x 10k bonuses) compared to 88 at A&O.

This isn’t a case of US shops being market leading, they’re a different market entirely.

it's bedtime

Yeah alright fresher, make sure you’ve covered the Duty-Breach-Causation parts of a tort claim before you comment on what MC firms should or shouldn’t be doing.

Kids these days… 😝

Works at a magic circle firm

It’s a real issue but the pull of the magic circle will still be very strong in London. Yes the US firms pay more, but magic circle work really is unparalleled in the market.

Driving my Lambo past Works at a magic circle firm's flatshare

Lol. Utterly brainwashed.

This comment again

You do realise the rock star MC partners responsible for winning most of that work have been consistently fleeing the sinking ships for the past number of years, right? With the exception of Slaughters, at this rate most of the MC will shortly be mostly level-pegged with Simmons, Eversheds, DLA, CMS, etc. They will be involved with great matters, yes, but not with the same frequency.

Why would a rainmaker stick around in a lockstep, even a modified one or one that allows for performance-based corrections, when they can go to an “eat what you kill” set up and consistently earn £4-7m a year? Or they could transfer in-house to one of their PE Clients that will let them have carry on the deals as an exec for the potential to earn 8 figures in a year.

Sceptic turned believer

I think you are correct. In some areas, such as competition, employment, commercial litigation, construction and projects, the magic circle and city firms will still get great work and be near the top of the market. However in the uber profitable areas of Finance, Corporate, and International Arbitration, the shift is obvious. The prestige of the magic circle is declining and I was one that didn’t believe it could happen but the difference in pay and benefits is too much. The GC that can afford it will go to Kirklands or Lathams rather than CC. In general M&A the magic circle always had the advantage of a lot of juniors but that has changed, and some US firms have a massive presence in London. Even non top tier US firms like White and Case and Sherman and Sterling are pushing in their core areas of project finance and international disputes and pay so much more so the quality of the associates is not even comparable any more. The best associates go to the US firms both to push for partnership or much better exit options in these specific areas. Why would a top associate sacrifice their life for £140k at A&O when they can sacrifice their life for £250k. You see partners jumping ship from magic circle to US firms now, I don’t think I have read about many in the opposite direction, up and coming partners moving from US firms to the magic circle.

oh look it's white dudes writing paragraphs again

clearly if you’re typing this out, you’re not working at a US firm, so maybe go back to your LPC textbook? i’m sure that US firms have PR teams of their own

Old Guy

Just to illustrate the point, there was a time when Travers Smith and Macfarlanes were considered top tier along with Slaughters, and thought of as elite corporate shops. Now both are very much mid-market for corporate and finance, and no longer elite boutiques. Their best partners are poached all the time, frequently by US firms. Things have changed in a decade, I think the next decade will see greater change with the magic circle accepting its place as mid-market in Europe but with greater global footprints so still getting good work from commonwealth jurisdictions or through their offices there.

Sceptic turned believer

@ oh look it’s white dudes writing paragraphs again

Firstly, I’m not sure where in my comments I stated I worked in a US law firm. I’m observing a trend. Fyi I work in-house in finance, so a client that has observed this change, and can see the decline in quality in the MC firms. I trained in a City firm, not magic circle.

Secondly, it was Good Friday. It was not an official working day, so plenty of time to write what I want. Just had to check emails in the morning for a bit.


@ White Dudes. Cut the racism. If you don’t like it, stop giving it out.


Why not Slaughters as well?


This has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen since Baker McKenzie

Poor MC Trainee

How hard is it to move to a US firm on qualification?

i love exaggeration

incredibly. very. impossibly so. it’s insurmountable.


Not very hard if you’re training at MC, but I’ve seen other MC NQs struggle at the US firm I’m at with the sudden expectation that it’ll be them running a transaction directly underneath a satellite partner with only a trainee for support.

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