Sour Grapes for $20,000?

The BigLaw bonus extravaganza is back. BigLaw associates will receive an unexpected spring bonus this year in addition to the normal annual bonus. This is icing on a rather dry cake; the 2010 annual bonus was less than half of what was handed out during the boom time of 2007.

I fondly remember the excitement back in 2007, when firms were clamoring to match and even outdo each other on the bonus front. Above the Law, ever the bearer of news close to the hearts of BigLaw associates, even borrowed the animated icon of the Drudge Report siren to accompany the Associate Bonus Watch. That little siren became synonymous with the morsel of goodness doled out by BigLaw.

I must admit that the recent flurry of activity on the Associate Bonus Watch is making me a little green-eyed. Even though I know I willingly chose to leave all of this behind, I can’t say that I don’t feel left out seeing the excitement of my former colleagues when Simpson Thacher announced that it will increase its spring bonus to match the Cravath Scale.

When I left BigLaw, I thought I knew what I was leaving behind – the predictable salary and approximately a 2010 year-end bonus that was likely to be $25,000 to $30,000. (It ended up being $30,000). I had not accounted for this rather unusual and unexplained event of a spring bonus in 2011. Knowing about the additional $20,000 would not have affected my decision to quit law, but it is still a nice chunk of change.

I tell myself that after-tax, the bonus is only a little over $10,000, but I know I am just being a sour grape (a Jenism). Since I have become more frugal, I know $10,000 can go a long way. It would have financed my daily visit to Argo Tea for at least a year decade!

For the record: to the BigLaw associates who have stuck around and worked hard for this money, I am happy for you. You’ve earned it.

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4 Responses to Sour Grapes for $20,000?

  1. Anonymous says:

    February 28, 2011 at 00:35

    I completely agree with you about the money. While it is not everything, to walk away from $50k is hard! To put it in perspective, a first year teacher often makes $25-45K/year. So, for some, it is full year’s salary.

    Anyway, thank you for your blog! I appreciate your candor, and insights.

  2. John says:

    Do you really spend 10k a year on tea or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

  3. expat Canuck says:

    You obviously have the brains/skills to earn money some other way, and your time, health, and sanity are priceless. My sister is ex-Big law. She seems less stressed and happier to me now, even though she’s taken a paycut.

    But yeah, that is a lot of money.

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