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December 22, 2015

Philly law firm gives bonuses of up to $100K to associates

Dechert LLP employs 900 lawyers worldwide, including 150 in Philadelphia

If the recession is still lingering in the economy, associates at Philadelphia's most profitable law firm aren't feeling it. Dechert LLP, which specializes in large-scale corporate transactions, announced on Monday that it would give bonuses of up to $100,000 for its most senior associates, the Above the Law blog reported

Dechert's bonus structure, which mimics that of competing big law firms in the Northeast, starts at $15,000 or less for the newest associates to $100,000 to those who have worked in the company since 2008 or earlier. The base salary for lawyers starts at $160,000.

In addition, the company said in an email that "bonuses in excess of these amounts will be awarded to a number of our most productive associates."

Related story: Texas billionaire gives each employee $100,000 bonus

Associate bonuses are considered an important proxy measure of how profitable law firms are. For example, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, bonuses were as low as $35,000 for the most senior associates during the recession. It may seem petty to complain about a bonus of "only" five figures, but since Forbes pointed out that the average law school debt ranges from $84,000 for public schools to more than $122,000 for private schools, the number is significant.

With 27 offices worldwide and about 900 lawyers, around 150 of them in Philadelphia, Dechert makes enormous profits. The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that the firm's average profit per equity partner was more than $2 million in 2014.