Law firm Boies Schiller sets bonuses to reward high-billers

The logo of law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP is seen outside of their office in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Boies Schiller is second firm known to have announced 2022 bonuses, after Baker McKenzie
  • Bonuses for some associates who bill more than 2,600 hours range from $40,000 to $165,000

(Reuters) - U.S. litigation firm Boies Schiller Flexner on Tuesday circulated its annual bonus scale to associates, promising top-billers who exceed certain thresholds extra payouts ranging up to $165,000.

Boies Schiller is only the second major law firm known to have announced 2022 year-end associate bonuses so far, following Baker McKenzie last week. Baker McKenzie did not appear to offer additional bonuses to high-billers, nor one-time bonuses as it did in 2021.

Mirroring Baker McKenzie's basic scale, Boies Schiller will dole out bonuses based on seniority starting at a prorated $15,000 amount for the class of 2022 up to $115,000 for senior associates that bill between 2,000 and 2,349 hours, according to a Tuesday memo to associates.

"2022 has been another successful year for the Firm, marked by headline trial wins, huge appellate victories (including in the Supreme Court), massive settlements, and truly impactful work in furtherance of the public good," Boies Schiller's managing partners wrote in the memo, which was reviewed by Reuters.

The firm is still waiting for its cut of a $667 million fee award for working with other firms to reach a $2.67 billion antitrust settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield. It is unclear how the total fees would be split among the law firms if the deal overcomes objections. But the award could be a windfall for Boies Schiller, which has seen declining lawyer headcount and revenue in recent years.

New York-founded Boies Schiller has two compensation structures for associates after a 2020 change that gave them the option to receive market-rate bonuses or individualized bonuses based on its traditional formula. The bonus schedule applies to associates on the market-based compensation system, according to the memo.

While many associates initially chose the market system, the "vast majority" of associates now have opted for the formula compensation, the firm said.

The firm will give "extraordinary" and "extra-extraordinary" bonuses to market system associates who exceed 2,350 and 2,600-hour thresholds, the memo said. The bonuses start at $30,000 and $40,000 and range up to $150,000 and $165,000 for the two hours-based thresholds based on seniority, respectively.

Boies Schiller increased its "extraordinary" bonuses so high-performing market-based associates aren't "disadvantaged," the memo said.

The managing partners said the formula compensation "has resulted in many substantially above-market bonuses, particularly amongst junior associates."

A firm spokesperson did not immediately comment on how many associates would qualify for the high-hours bonuses.

Boies Schiller's basic scale is the same as the firm offered in 2021, which matched amounts set by Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Cravath, whose decision could influence other firms this year, is not yet known to have revealed its 2022 associate bonuses.

In 2021, firms raced to increase associate salaries and bonuses, with many handing out "special" bonus payouts in a war for talent amid soaring demand for M&A work. Bonuses and extra payouts are more uncertain this year as firms face economic headwinds, with cooling demand and increasing expenses.

Read more:

Baker McKenzie kicks off law firm bonus season with payouts reaching $115K

Boies promises ‘extra-extraordinary’ bonuses to associates

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Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as the business of law, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Reach her at sara.merken@thomsonreuters.com