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Has anyone heard anything about special bonuses firms are paying out to associates this year (on top of the regular bonus amounts)? 

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A number of friends at large firms have confirmed a 10% bonus in May, and a second 10% bonus towards the end of the year for those on track to hit their billable target. This would be on top of the normal end of year bonus.

Have also heard of increased referral bonuses too.

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Retention is becoming a big issue for the big law firms one year into the pandemic. In addition to those associates with general fatigue due to pandemic/increased workload, there is apparently increased attrition due to NY and California firms poaching corporate associates from Canada - who will get paid USD and U.S. (or near) salaries and get to work from home. 

So all of that is behind the recent COVID bonuses and the increased referral bonuses.

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Many firms opted to cheap out during the annual compensation review. Instead of the usual annual raises, some firms provided cost of living increases (e.g. 2%) to their associates, even those who were dangerously closed to hitting their billable hours target. Now those same firms are dishing out retention bonuses to retain their associates. Too little too late, in some cases. 

What has really frustrated associates is that some of these firms either exceeded or fell just below their original budgets for 2020. 

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59 minutes ago, delije89 said:

Many firms opted to cheap out during the annual compensation review. Instead of the usual annual raises, some firms provided cost of living increases (e.g. 2%) to their associates, even those who were dangerously closed to hitting their billable hours target. Now those same firms are dishing out retention bonuses to retain their associates. Too little too late, in some cases. 

What has really frustrated associates is that some of these firms either exceeded or fell just below their original budgets for 2020. 

Is this for non Bay St firms only or does this include Bay St firms?

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, delije89 said:

Many firms opted to cheap out during the annual compensation review. Instead of the usual annual raises, some firms provided cost of living increases (e.g. 2%) to their associates, even those who were dangerously closed to hitting their billable hours target. Now those same firms are dishing out retention bonuses to retain their associates. Too little too late, in some cases. 

What has really frustrated associates is that some of these firms either exceeded or fell just below their original budgets for 2020. 

This is inaccurate, at least for one large national firm and if it's one, it's probably all.

Edited by Chrysander

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5 hours ago, Chrysander said:

This is inaccurate, at least for one large national firm and if it's one, it's probably all.

Which part exactly? 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, delije89 said:

Which part exactly? 

What part do you think is accurate? 

I haven’t heard of any national firms refusing to give the usual lockstep raises to their associates. And that’s the kind of thing that would be shared fairly quickly, considering: (i) it suggests real liquidity issues at the firm; (ii) it would be essentially determinative of that firm’s reputation in the marketplace; and (iii) it would be without precedent. It was well before my time, so someone who was around then can feel free to correct me, but I don’t believe that happened even in the midst of the Great Recession. To have it happen during a year where the Toronto offices of most national firms have gone gangbusters would be truly bizarre  

If you’ve heard of national firms doing this, can you share which ones? 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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9 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

What part do you think is accurate? 

I haven’t heard of any national firms refusing to give the usual lockstep raises to their associates. And that’s the kind of thing that would be shared fairly quickly, considering: (i) it suggests real liquidity issues at the firm; (ii) it would be essentially determinative of that firm’s reputation in the marketplace; and (iii) it would be without precedent. It was well before my time, so someone who was around then can feel free to correct me, but I don’t believe that happened even in the midst of the Great Recession. To have it happen during a year where the Toronto offices of most national firms have gone gangbusters would be truly bizarre  

If you’ve heard of national firms doing this, can you share which ones? 

Not every national firm has a lockstep system throughout. Some (such as the firm where I work) only use lockstep for the first two years, and then it's all discretionary raises. This year, that same firm handed out what is essentially a cost of living allowance (2% increase) to all of its associates except those who have exceeded their billable hours target (and even then, I am not entirely sure if all of them have received the usual raise). Some associates have received no raise at all.

By all accounts the firm fell short of its original pre-pandemic budget by 1%. The firm has not gone "gangbusters" but it was certainly busy and these 2% raises have resulted in extreme dissatisfaction at the associate level. Now the firm is dishing out a 10% "special bonus" in May (for all associates) and another 10% bonus in December (for those who are on track to hit their target), but the exodus of associates (me included) has already started. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, delije89 said:

Not every national firm has a lockstep system throughout. Some (such as the firm where I work) only use lockstep for the first two years, and then it's all discretionary raises. This year, that same firm handed out what is essentially a cost of living allowance (2% increase) to all of its associates except those who have exceeded their billable hours target (and even then, I am not entirely sure if all of them have received the usual raise). Some associates have received no raise at all.

By all accounts the firm fell short of its original pre-pandemic budget by 1%. The firm has not gone "gangbusters" but it was certainly busy and these 2% raises have resulted in extreme dissatisfaction at the associate level. Now the firm is dishing out a 10% "special bonus" in May (for all associates) and another 10% bonus in December (for those who are on track to hit their target), but the exodus of associates (me included) has already started. 

So which firms? You said “many” firms are doing this, so there shouldn’t be anonymity problems with sharing. Feel free to omit your own firm from the list if that’s a concern.

Naming the firms will really establish whether or not the firms are “national”, which seemed to be what everyone disagrees about. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois

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40 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

So which firms? You said “many” firms are doing this, so there shouldn’t be anonymity problems with sharing. Feel free to omit your own firm from the list if that’s a concern.

Naming the firms will really establish whether or not the firms are “national”, which seemed to be what everyone disagrees about. 

I did not insinuate that all of the "many firms" are national firms, although mine certainly is. I will not be naming and shaming the firm on a public forum, but check your PM. 

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Maybe that's why a recruiter for a national Canadian firm reached out to me a couple weeks ago.

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