US firms vie for bragging rights to staff bonuses

The US bonus war is in full swing with a trio of New York’s elite firms announcing whopping end-of-year sweeteners for associates.

Sullivan & Cromwell announced a $20,000 (£10,400) bonus for first-year associates last month (26 November), in addition to the one-off $10,000 (£5,200) windfall the firm unveiled in October.

Last week, M&A powerhouse Cravath Swaine & Moore met Sullivan’s challenge, unveiling a $30,000 (£15,600) end-of-year bonus for first-year associates.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett has since matched the rates set by its New York rivals, announcing bonuses of $30,000 for first-year associates and $60,000 (£31,200) for senior associates.

Of the US firms with UK arms, Latham & Watkins, Shearman & Sterling, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and White & Case are among those to pay end-of-year bonuses. Skadden has already distributed its bonuses, Shearman associates are hoping theirs will be issued in time for Christmas, while Latham has yet to calculate its bonuses, which are distributed in the new year.

However, not all associates are so lucky. Baker & McKenzie, for example, offers no bonuses whatsoever.