Davis Polk Associates Better Get Their Butts To The Office If They Want Their Full Bonus


money stack bonus chart 2022The end of the first quarter is around the corner, and Biglaw firms will no longer tolerate associates not abiding by their mandatory office attendance policies. We’ve recently learned that another elite Biglaw firm — a compensation leader, in fact — will be considering office attendance in their bonus decisions for 2023.

If Davis Polk associates in New York want their full bonus this year, they’ll have to go to the office three days a week, per their revised policy.

Davis Polk first instituted their mandatory Tuesday-Thursday attendance policy about one year ago, but due to recent events, we’re wondering how well that’s been working out.

Sources tell us that the firm revised the in-office attendance segment of its handbook as of March 6, 2023, to reflect the fact that associate bonuses may be impacted by inconsistent and infrequent office attendance. Specifically, “[f]ailure by any lawyer to comply with the operative in-office attendance policy may adversely affect the lawyer’s performance evaluation and result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to the withholding or reduction of a discretionary bonus (emphasis added), in accordance with applicable law.” A screenshot of DPW’s new policy can be seen below:

Davis Polk Handbook Attendance Bonus Policy

We’ve heard that members of the firm’s professional development team have been calling associates with poor office attendance to tell them about the new bonus policy. A tipster at the firm tells us, “DPW of course does totally lockstep bonuses without even an hours minimum but apparently is threatening to dock bonuses of big billers if they choose to do that billing at home.” Sheesh!

The new normal for associates is starting to look a whole lot like the old normal for associates, with their firms in complete control. If they want their full bonuses — and if they want to avoid being seen as a candidate for stealth layoffs — it’s officially time to head on back to the office.

Now that Davis Polk has implemented this new policy, will other Biglaw firms follow? If your firm is linking bonuses to office attendance let us know. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks for your help.

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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