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BigLaw bonuses as high as 20%

New research reveals that bonus figures in larger firms can be as high as 20 per cent of the base remuneration package for senior associates.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 07 August 2018 Big Law
Big bonus, big money bag
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The 2018 Mahlab Report, showcasing information regarading remuneration and rewards, trends and employment experiences of lawyers both in private practice and in-house, has detailed that “high-achieving senior associates” typically earn a raise of three per cent plus a bonus, most commonly around the 10 per cent mark.

But bonuses for lawyers at this level can be as high as 20 per cent, the report noted, and are generally limited to senior associates who “exceed expectations in fee generation, client attraction, management of matters and teams”.

For lawyers with three to six years of post-qualification experience in the larger firms, salary increases range between three to five per cent, while outstanding performers in those firms can be awarded increases of up to 10 per cent.


Lawyers in particular practice groups also report achieving greater increases in their salaries: practitioners in “hot spots of demand” such as banking and finance, construction and infrastructure and corporate/M&A saw better salary rises than their counterparts in other groups.

At the partnership level, compensation remains a key issue, with reward being demanded for strong performance, such as meeting individual targets.

“Those firms who cannot reward high performers appropriately risk losing key partners and practices,” Mahlab wrote.

“This is an issue for even some of the largest and most successful firms, in which high-performing partners and practices may in some circumstances need to financially support niche or less profitable practices to provide the seamless service demanded by many clients.”

Partner remuneration levels have generally remained steady, the report noted, with slight increases in some firms, although most firms reported a profitable year.

“However, profits were generally modest and relied heavily on the creation of efficiencies and, in some instances, on reducing partnership numbers.”

“Competition and business challenges resulted in several partnerships reducing partner compensation, while other partnerships reduced equity partner numbers to maintain overall profits and thus retain valued partners.”

For lawyers across the board, bonuses continue to be used as retention strategies by their employers, along with the provision of “laptops, phones and other offerings”.

Retention of valued lawyers remains a crucial issue for law firms, Mahlab wrote.

“Lawyers seek quality legal work, training and development, a career path, financial reward, recognition and a balanced lifestyle,” it wrote.

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