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Should Law Firms Change the Way They Handle Bonuses?

Former biglaw attorney Victor Medina has some interesting  insights about how law firms reward associates for those hellish months where they're working virtually 24-7.   Medina describes how a friend of his just "banged out a 280 billable hour month for June."  But aside from a pat on the back, Medina expects that his friend won't get extra compensation for his hard work until annual bonus time.  And there's no guarantee of a bonus, because if subsequent months are average or slow, the friend's total hours for the year probably won't warrant a bonus anyway. 

Medina suggests that cutting a bonus into quarterly periods would create a closer link between compensation and effort expended on particular projects.   He offers other ideas too:

How about throwing these overworked associates a bone ... ? A weekend at a spa for two -- what's that, a couple hundred bucks? How about treating them to a golf outing and a dinner? How about escalating bonuses over the course of the year, paid out on a monthly basis (5% of excess billings the 1st month, 7% the second month of an effort)?  Point is -- there must be a thousand better ways of rewarding associates for their hard work than waiting a whole year for a bonus.

What do you think?  Should firms change the bonus system or make an effort to reward associates throughout the year, as Medina suggests? Post your comments below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on July 21, 2006 at 01:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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