So Above the Law posted today that some associates are unhappily finding out that their bonuses may be less than expected. These associates, who range from Jones Day to Morgan Lewis, are upset to find that their bonuses are going to be slashed. The minions are apparently in an uprising mode, and certainly this injustice will rock the streets of every city these firms have offices in.
That’s right, my brothers and sisters, the uprising is at hand!
I feel so sorry for those first year associates, what with their salaries at Jones Day of, according to GlassDoor, anywhere from $153,000-$171,000 per year. Or maybe it’s $180,000 per year as reported by ATL earlier this year. However will they survive without their bonuses? By the way, for people screaming “NEW YORK COST OF LIVING,” their Pittsburgh office is paying out $160,000 in 2016 according to ATL in that June post. That’s only about $73,000 per year more than the median starting salary for attorneys in Pittsburgh who aren’t in BigLaw.
I get it. They wanted nice things and they worked hard to get into Jones Day. But every time I see a post about a first year attorney, who made more than me last year, crying about not getting their bonus I get a little pissed off. If you don’t like the BigLaw culture and pay scale, come join the rest of us in our smaller offices, with our less expensive suits, and our less prestigious clients. That removes your bonus issue.
Oh, we work about the same number of hours, if not more, by the way, because we don’t have decades or centuries of prestige surrounding our office. We have to build our reputations, and that means we bust ass. We work nights, weekends, and holidays. We’re on call to our clients constantly because we not only need them, we need their friends. We spend as much, if not more, time briefing our arguments and bare-knuckle brawling it out. We also do all of this for less money, more stress, and more in the way of ulcers.
By the way, for those people who point at their degree and say “BUT MAH IVY LEAGUE,” I’ll refer you to my father, a graduate of Harvard Law who hung a shingle and runs what is now a successful practice. He did it without bonuses, with debt, with three kids, and while taking part-time work as a fuckin’ prosecutor so he could make sure we had insurance coverage. You don’t like how your firm is treating you when you’re getting paid more than some attorneys who have been practicing for decades in your area? Jump ship and become the competition.
Here’s my rule of thumb: If you’re in your early to mid-20’s as a lawyer, you’re clearing well in excess of six figures, and you don’t have to worry about being both a competent and zealous attorney AND a businessman in the same geographical area as me, with many of the same expenses, don’t expect me to shed a single tear for you when your bonus isn’t as much as you want. You have a damn good job, with damn good pay, and which most of us would love to bring in. You are the upper-class of the legal world, and just like I’m not crying over a billionaire losing a couple million because of a bad year, I have no sympathy when your discretionary bonus gets cut.
Jump ship to another BigLaw firm if you have the ability to do it, or get down here in the gutter and start street brawling for your check like the rest of us. But stop bitching. Nobody’s crying for you.