Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

Bah, Humbug. Where's My Bonus?

Remember when you were a kid, rushing to the Christmas tree before the sun came up? And remember the look on your parents' faces when you tore open the presents?

Tired. The look was tired. It was still oh holy night, for goodness sake.

Your folks may have managed to smile through it, but Christmas morning sometimes brings a little Christmas mourning. That's because, as an elf or somebody said, money doesn't buy happiness. Especially if you didn't get that pony, bicycle or special toy you really wanted -- or, for you grownups, that massive end of the year bonus you were expecting.

There Is No Santa, Baby

If you don't get a Christmas bonus from your law firm this year, it has nothing to do with Santa Claus. Whether the firm gifts you $150,000, which is the highest reported bonus for associates this season, or the boss gives you a pink slip, it is about the money.

Some big law firms have not announced bonuses this year, creating some tension in the ranks. Above the Law, which follows the annual coming-out, says they are waiting for reports from Wachtell Lipton, Latham & Watkins, Kirkland & Ellis and Gibson Dunn.

The biggest firms will likely pony up, but their bonuses might not live up to expectations.

Maybe Christmas Means a Little Bit More

Sure, a big firm associate's five- to six-figure bonus could buy some things that make a small-firm attorney happier. But according to a Forbes report, associate attorneys have the unhappiest job in the world.

We're not trying to social-psycho-analyze the legal profession or anything here, but researchers have said that peer salaries may have something to do with the problem. They say that reporting salary differences contributes to lower job satisfaction.

"Differences in pay rank matter more than differences in pay levels," according to scholars at Berkeley and Princeton.

So forget about those bonuses and enjoy the season. Whatever the law firm offers you, be of good cheer. There's always next year.

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