Akin Gump announces big bonuses for London lawyers

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Up to £104k in year-end and one-time special rewards

Lawyers in the London office of US firm Akin Gump are about to reap big sums of money ahead of the holiday season.

The firm is awarding associates with a year-end bonus as well as a one-time special bonus for their “extraordinary efforts during this very challenging year”.

They’ll receive between $15,000 (£11,300) and $115,000 (£86,800), depending on experience, by way of a year-end bonus, and an additional bonus, ranging from $4,000 (£3,000) to $23,000 (£17,400). Taken together, a 2014 qualifier will receive $138,000 (£104,200) and a 2020 qualifier $24,000 (£18,000).

Class Year-end bonus One-time special bonus
2021 $15,000 (pro-rated) n/a
2020 $20,000 $4,000
2019 $30,000 $6,000
2018 $57,500 $11,500
2017 $75,000 $15,000
2016 $90,000 $18,000
2015 $105,000 $21,000
2014+ $115,000 $21,000
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Each individual bonus will be assessed based on an associate’s overall performance, according to a memo sent by the firm on Friday and seen by Legal Cheek. This includes work quality, practice area contributions, pro bono efforts and productivity, which, according to the memo, is expected to be at or above 1,950 hours. The memo adds that up to 100 hours spent on recruitment, diversity and inclusion and/or innovation activities will be considered for productivity purposes.

“As this challenging year comes to a conclusion, we thank each of you for your hard work, dedication, and commitment to our firm, our clients, our communities and each other,” said Melissa Schwartz, Akin Gump’s professional development partner, in the memo.

In March, Akin Gump announced special spring bonuses of up to $64,000 (£48,300) for associates in the US, London and Hong Kong. These were paid in two instalments in May and October 2021.

Akin Gump’s London lawyers earn upwards of $202,500, which works out at approximately £153,000 according to today’s exchange rate, making it one of the highest paying firms in the City.

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Old news. Most US firms have already announced and Cahill are currently the market leader in this bonus season. Kirkland are to announce soon – let’s see if they match Cahill, stick to Davis Polk or blow everyone out of the water!



Kirkland don’t announce anything. It’s a black box.

Essentially they pay base bonuses which are slightly higher than whatever the market is. They then add a multiplier based on your hours and review scores. So some people will get marginally more than the Akin numbers. Others might get double.

They used to be unique in this respect, but now quite a lot of US firms do something similar.


Mrs Gump (dec’d)

Run! Forrest…oh I can’t be bothered… 😴



Goodwin London paying more than this. A 2014 grad will get $115k + $23k guaranteed if you hit 1,950 (or $109k if you hit 1,850 hours), and if you hit more than that or receive a higher than average performance rating you get up to $86,250 more, so bonus can total $225,000 (plus the earlier covid appreciation bonuses of $64k) and base pay rises up to a min of $365k. Not bad for senior associates who can take home $655k this year!



Are Goodwin paying London associates these bonuses?



Yes. These aren’t unique to Akin. These are just the US lockstep bonuses for 2021.



Yes. Goodwin London matching the Akin Gump bonus scale



Do all US firms in the city get this?



All firms that follow US salary rates, yes. So not the likes of Jones Day or Reed Smith.



This is where you see the real difference between UK and US firm. Bonuses and perks through the roof whereas lucky to get an Xmas box of chocolates from a UK firm.



Credit to the UK firms, they do dish out prestige by the bucketload



The real story – those who qualified in 2014 or earlier will have received over £400k gross this year when base salary is included.


Cravath Scaled

More than $400k, not more than £400k.



No, it’s more than £400k. A 2014 associate gets paid $365k base. They would have received $64k special bonus earlier this year and will receive $136k this month. In total that’s $565k or £406k using the exchange ratio that my firm uses. It’s even more based on the spot rate.



That’d make them 7PQE, and frankly there are only a tiny handful of people who last that long in City law. US law firms in particular are very junior-heavy; in the finance department where I work there are about 7 NQs, 5 non-NQ junior associates, 5 senior associates (only one of whom trained here) and 2 counsel (again, only one of whom trained here). So focussing on the topmost figures is a bit meaningless.



Clutching at straws there, MC recruiting department.



Correct it’s more than £400k



A 105k bonus is surreal



Not in IB or PE. That’s what juniors get



That’s what you get for learning excel instead of word!



I know someone who is at Skadden (NQ) since September 2021 and s(he) is getting a £20,000 bonus after just four months. Ridiculous.


US guy

I doubt this, but in any event I’m sure that whatever the bonus figure they’ve given her is the annual figure and it will be prorated.



You know someone at Skadden but don’t know their gender? Okay then



Even if true (and anything is possible in this market), they are an idiot for telling anyone. It will only breed resentment.


Myth Dispeller

On todays list of ‘things that never happened’… last I heard people at Skadden were given new ipads instead of bonuses- and in any event 20K after 4 months- you believe this? get outta here…



Skadden did give out iPad pros to all their lawyers (at least in both their NY and London offices – my partner got one) but they were not in lieu of bonuses, just a separate gift. The Skadden bonuses might seem larger than other firms because Skadden decided to pay out the ‘special Covid bonus’ that US firms handed out earlier this year on a different timeline than other firms. So Skadden lawyers are receiving their 2nd tranche of the Covid bonus, plus the usual Christmas bonus, plus the additional ‘one-time special bonus’ (for classes of 2020 and up). If the NQ trained at the firm then it is possible they are receiving 20K (pre-tax anyways) depending on how the firm is treating the class of 2021 within its bonus scales.



There aren’t that many senior associates at these firms. If you’re still there at 8PQE a) you’ve grinded a LOT in your late twenties and early thirties and b) you’re probably partnership material. So these £100,000+ bonuses are only going to a small number of people.

If Akin Gump hires 4-5 trainees a year and has a dozen NQs in its office, I don’t even want to think about how few people in London will see its splashy $115,000 bonus.

The attention should go to the bonuses given to 1-4 PQEs.


Akin 8 PQE

There are more of us than you think – a quick search for senior associates based in London on the firm’s website shows there are around 30 of us, which, in a London office of around 100 lawyers, is a fairly sizeable number.



Lmao sure fresher. Back to Treitel’s Law of Contract, yes?


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