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  #5181 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 02:54 PM
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Hi, currently a trainee at a big four firm and have a general question about salaries.

I understand that salaries for associates at big four firms are frontloaded. Are we still eligible for a bonus, and if so, how is the bonus computed - how many months can we expect to get? Some posts on this forum have said that associates can get 6-9 months of bonus but I'm not sure if thats still relevant now since salaries are front loaded, and also 6-9 months sounds really generous. I know the recession will probably change things and bonuses will be low but i'm wondering about the "norm"

Also, are senior associate salaries front loaded as well or is it all performance based?

When I was interning at Drew, one of the partners told us that lawyers at Drew will be highly rewarded and there is no lock step system, "you will not have your light dimmed by the collective shade of everyone else" if you are a good performer. Is that actually true...?
On the Drew part, yes specific teams such as DS had a heavy emphasis on the bonus system. However, since he left I'm not sure what it's like nowadays.

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  #5182 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 02:56 PM
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Seems he was an aviation and maritime asset finance lawyer. Perhaps he was already on the outs given the current climate and needed this scheme as a hustle.
Yes this is the most likely. If an international firm decided to drop an assoc because of this sort of thing, you can bet that they would have released a statement. It is likely that he was already on the way out when this happened.

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  #5183 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Hi, currently a trainee at a big four firm and have a general question about salaries.

I understand that salaries for associates at big four firms are frontloaded. Are we still eligible for a bonus, and if so, how is the bonus computed - how many months can we expect to get? Some posts on this forum have said that associates can get 6-9 months of bonus but I'm not sure if thats still relevant now since salaries are front loaded, and also 6-9 months sounds really generous. I know the recession will probably change things and bonuses will be low but i'm wondering about the "norm"

Also, are senior associate salaries front loaded as well or is it all performance based?

When I was interning at Drew, one of the partners told us that lawyers at Drew will be highly rewarded and there is no lock step system, "you will not have your light dimmed by the collective shade of everyone else" if you are a good performer. Is that actually true...?
The front-loading thing may become a thing of the past. Half of the big 4 do not / no longer have it.

Even with front-loading, historically the bonus at big 4 firms (but excluding the special high-flying teams) tended to range from 0-3 months (based on front-loaded monthly pay), depending on performance (which isn't only based on the individual associate's performance). There are, of course, exceptions. The 0-3 months' range broadly correlates with 6-9+ months' bonus calculated against base pay (i.e. without front-load) spread over the 12-months' period.

Senior associate salaries tend to have the same structure as junior associates. However, note that some firms more readily give bigger increments to good performers, while others adhere more closely to the 'lock-step' norm.

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When I was interning at Drew, one of the partners told us that lawyers at Drew will be highly rewarded and there is no lock step system, "you will not have your light dimmed by the collective shade of everyone else" if you are a good performer. Is that actually true...?
I think this is a matter of degree - this shouldn't be seen as a binary ("no lock-step" v "100% lock-step").

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  #5184 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 05:19 PM
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Transportation finance is ______ with or without a bail-out. Look at the layoffs on their side, no one is spared. Even once covid dies down travel and tourism will take years to get over the paranoia and the recession.
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  #5185 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 06:31 PM
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All very valid points. Nah Iím not his friend, just a keyboard warrior but one that got quite shocked when I read the news. I do part time university admission counselling so it seemed analogous to that.

Your point about the implied circumvention of the democratic application process is true; but we all know people who have entered the industry using connections privately, at least this opens it up to everyone ? Plus there was an option to defer payment if they canít afford. But ultimately youíre right itís never a right thing to publicly insinuate corruption-like services.

Yes It was Milbankís decision not the law soc, but that was a very predictable outcome from the law Socís POV when they used words like fox in sheepís clothing - pre-charge accusations and libel ?

Yes moral of the story is if sounds bad it probably is - thanks for clarifying ! Stay safe !
like you i am a keyboard warrior and not his friend. While his idea is definitely objectionable, objectively, as a self declared right thinking member, I think Law Soc official statement (including Greg's harsh words) are rather uncalled for and arguably opportunistic.

I mean this forum is full of evidence of the harsh hours, bad culture etc perpetrated by law firm partners who are themselves exploiting juniors (perhaps less in your face). Law Soc's response thus far is to convene committees to review Tc etc and have a young lawyer sub com. End of the day, issue of exploitation is still widespread in the industry.
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  #5186 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 07:12 PM
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I do agree with your analysis of our lacklustre legal industry but be let's be honest, A level graduates choose their degree based on what they perceive to be a safe choice and what the industry signals to the market. This isn't a problem only in the legal industry, have you not seen batches of chemical engineering and bio-engineering graduates got burnt by the government's marketing tricks of painting a rosy picture of the industry only to quietly leave graduates to die after they graduate?

The supply committee has been sending wrong signals to the market since its first incarnation and unlike general degrees, law students do not have much options to steer their career on a different trajectory once they begin law school. The law graduates who graduated at the peak of the current glut decided to read law partly because of news reports on the shortage of lawyers, barely a year or two later a third law school was set up and by the time of graduation the boo-boo was attempted to be covered up with a restatement that the shortage was only in community lawyers.

It is true that in the US many students take on huge debt to get a JD but its not a straightforward comparison. A JD in the US is a 2 year program and US graduates has the option to fall back on their bachelors or previous work experience.

Everyone would hustle if given the opportunity but the fact is some are not given a chance, and the fortunate seniors have no empathy for the juniors because they have not been in their shoes.
Agree that the messaging from the government/law society is not very accurate (as they have vested interests in only saying good news about themselves), but what I don't get is why there aren't more Singaporean grads looking overseas to work when the Singapore market is crowded and there's a comparatively bigger market elsewhere. The jobs move globally now, and we also have to be mobile while we can.


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  #5187 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 09:24 PM
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how to go overseas? llm and another round of bar exams not free leh.
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  #5188 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 10:55 PM
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Hi, currently a trainee at a big four firm and have a general question about salaries.

I understand that salaries for associates at big four firms are frontloaded. Are we still eligible for a bonus, and if so, how is the bonus computed - how many months can we expect to get? Some posts on this forum have said that associates can get 6-9 months of bonus but I'm not sure if thats still relevant now since salaries are front loaded, and also 6-9 months sounds really generous. I know the recession will probably change things and bonuses will be low but i'm wondering about the "norm"

Also, are senior associate salaries front loaded as well or is it all performance based?

When I was interning at Drew, one of the partners told us that lawyers at Drew will be highly rewarded and there is no lock step system, "you will not have your light dimmed by the collective shade of everyone else" if you are a good performer. Is that actually true...?
Two of four of those firms have front-loaded salaries. Total "bonus" of 6-9 months of base salary means a year-end bonus of about 0-2.5 months of your gross monthly salary.
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  #5189 (permalink)  
Old 01-05-2020, 11:20 PM
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Market is damn bad now
Cannot say it is bad. Later the legal who's who condemn you as being irresponsible and fearmongering then you know!
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  #5190 (permalink)  
Old 02-05-2020, 12:03 AM
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how to go overseas? llm and another round of bar exams not free leh.
Can work as a foreign-qualified lawyer in HK and London. And not to forget Middle East as well - they are always hiring.
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