Biglaw Firm Announces Special Bonuses, But Associates Don’t Seem Too Thrilled


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Biglaw bonus season doesn’t just mean it’s time for year-end bonuses — some firms are handing out “special” bonuses too. Or, in the case of this Am Law 100 firm, not-so-special bonuses. At least that’s the vibe we’re getting from associates on this offering.

Cozen O’Connor brought home $584,802,000 gross revenue in 2021, and just like in years past, the firm is handing out special bonuses during the holidays. This time around, associates aren’t too thrilled with the numbers, which range from $5,000 to $10,000 across all class years. Here’s an excerpt from the memo sent by firm leadership, explaining why the bonuses are smaller this year:

We obviously recognize that these extraordinary bonuses are not as large as last year, and that is for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that the extraordinary fees collected this year were substantially lower than prior years.

Here’s the scale for Cozen’s special bonuses:

  • Class of 2022: $5,000
  • Class of 2021: $5,000
  • Class of 2020: $7,500
  • Class of 2019: $7,500
  • Class of 2018: $7,500
  • Class of 2017: $7,500
  • Class of 2016+: $10,000

Associates we’ve heard from at the firm had a range of reactions, none of them happy. Here are a select few:

• “I work for Cozen O’Connor and we just got our year-end bonuses that are insanely low for an Am Law firm. No match here.”

• “‘Special’ bonus announcement from Cozen. What is even more annoying is the retreat they just required us to go to in Florida cost more than $3m. Would’ve rather seen that money go to my bonus rather than an open bar for 3 days straight….”

Yikes. While it should be noted that these special bonuses are separate from the firm’s merit bonuses (which will be announced in January and paid in February), associates aren’t holding out hope that those will be market matches.

We’re not complete Grinches here at Above the Law, so we’ll be kind and say that smaller special bonuses are better than no special bonuses at all.

(Flip to the next page to see the memo from Cozen O’Connor.)

Remember everyone, we depend on your tips to stay on top of important bonus updates, so when your firm announces or matches, please text us (646-820-8477) or email us (subject line: “[Firm Name] Matches”). Please include the memo if available. You can take a photo of the memo and send it via text or email if you don’t want to forward the original PDF or Word file.

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Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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