Law Firm Signing Bonus- Why do law firms offer bonuses?

Law Firm Signing Bonus

Law firms are a one-stop place where clients from various life works seek legal advice and solutions relating to any legal issues. Besides, as a client who needs the services of a law firm, you expect that you would be assigned a competent lawyer who can bring out genius solutions to your legal problems and save the day. However, for law firms to lay their hands on capable associates, which have become one of the most tussles in the legal industry, there must be incentives to win the associates over. This is where the signing bonus has become an essential tool to winning brilliant and performing lawyers. Here, let’s see about the Law Firm Signing Bonus.

Although in some law firms, the signing bonus targeted towards midlevel associates is mostly happening behind closed doors, which has been a way for law firms to rise above the recruiting competition. Generally, the mid-level associates are mostly targeted with signing bonus retention by law firms in the legal recruitment scene. More so, with a signing bonus, they are asked to stay with the firm for more than one or two years as a way to keep them from being pulled out by another firm. In addition, while signing bonuses, law firms can target top-performing talents from other firms and attract them to their organization. 

What is a signing bonus?

When you go to a law firm to hire a lawyer, you generally look for someone competent and well-versed in the profession. Hence, the lawyers who are considered great and worth their weight in gold get the highest salaries and signing bonuses compared to the less well-known lawyers in the law firm. A signing bonus or additional bonus in law firms refers to the extra salary you are supposed to pay to a highly paid lawyer before he or she gets engaged in the legal work in the firm. The signing bonus is given to attract the best and most skilled and promising law firms to join the law firm for legal work. These bonuses are paid in cash, while bonuses are paid in computer equipment and other key items.

The Latest Salary increase by big law firms

The legal industry is one of the critical sectors in the United States as it helps to bring back sanity to the country’s judicial system. Presently there is an increase in demand for associates, and it has been very high in the past few years. Failed deals and loss of cases are factors that have prompted law firms to hunt for better-performing associates who are presently employed with other firms. To hire high-performance associates isn’t the only goal, but retaining these mid-level associates and getting them involved in merger deals, acquisition, capital market, and other high-income clients that use the law firm’s services is a way to keep their eyes on the ball.

The Law firm signing bonus

Singing bonus is typical too much industry and the goal of signing bonus is to attract the best talent to the organization. It is a one-time lump sum of money paid for a newly hired applicant in an organization. The signing bonus is often used to attract the best applicant or draw professionals in such fields from other organizations. More so, industries where there is a shortage of skilled personnel make use of the signing bonus.

With the new increase in the demand for associates at various law firms, it has become imperative for law firms to offer signing bonuses to their applicants to retain and keep them within the origination. Associates are randomly targeted with retaining bonuses which often come with strings attached with requirements that an associate cannot leave an organization within a certain number of years. 

Why do law firms offer these bonuses?

Law firms are compelled to offer signing bonuses to their talented and versatile lawyers so that they can work with them for more than a term of a year. The thinking behind this is simple; the more time you hire an attorney, the more you are liable to get their legal advice. Hence, getting the best legal advice is critical to any company as you cannot leave the sale process to chance, and without knowing the legalities of the transaction, you are at risk of committing a legal faux pas and harming your business reputation and brand image. Signing bonuses can be two-fold: they can either be lump-sum or amount paid when hiring an attorney.

The demands on those mid-level associates’ roles are so great that some law firms often attach a referral fee to their recruiting roles. This would then motivate other lawyers to look within their connections for the best candidate for the positions. Besides, the recruiters who are giving these responsibilities go to any length to find the most suitable candidate for the role. Landing top-performing associates for the required role then becomes the priority of recruiting firms or lawyers who have connections to associates who fit into the role they are looking out for.

The signing bonus is another sign of increasing pressure on the demands required by the associates to fulfill. The higher the signing bonus, the higher the demands and the higher the performance expected from the associates.  There was some recent situation where the incoming salaries for an associate were declared as $202,500 with some signing on bonus that was not disclosed. 

How Much Do lawyers get as a signing bonus?

The lawyers often make between $140,000 to $164,000 as a signing bonus offered to them by law firms. However, most law firms are open to negotiation depending on the skill you have acquired, your client connections, and other advantages you would bring to the new organization. In addition, other bonuses are offered to the associates who can be in cash or perks from the law firm. Although, most attorneys singing for a larger law firm often expects to receive huge signing bonuses, which could be up to about $215,000. Besides, as a first-year associate signing for a law firm, you should be expecting a signing bonus of up to $120,000 as your signing bonus.

How does the amount of the bonus vary from firm to firm?

The signing bonus is generally paid to the young lawyer who starts the practice when you are a new lawyer. But, as time passes, you would be assigned a more experienced lawyer who will see that your legal problems are resolved in no time. Other than the signing bonus, several things affect the amount of bonus you will get. They include the length of your practice and the services you provide. The length of your practice is influenced by how many years of experience you have and how long you have been with the firm. As a young lawyer, the signing bonus is dependent on your role in the firm. The services you provide are critical in your earnings. They are the areas that can make or break the amount of bonus you get.

What do law firms look for in a new hire?

Before a client recommends a lawyer, the law firms assess their professional qualities, competencies, and the amount of compensation they offer to avoid any legal issue arising during legal practice. The new hires are mostly associates who have outperformed their duties at various legal firms and are either seeking new opportunities or are targeted by other firms. According to llyhye, a lawyer signing bonus is an excellent offer and a good investment to the law firm because it is a sign of the law firm’s confidence in the new hire. The lawyer signing bonus is an asset to the firm that gets sold to the investors. Also, it becomes an indicator of how the law firm is performing because the more the lawyer signing bonus is sold to the investors, the more the law firm is doing well.

Ways to get a higher signing bonus for your new job

Here are a few ways to increase your chances of getting a higher signing bonus. Research your desired law firm thoroughly. Attention! This may seem obvious, but before you decide on what law firm to work with, you should go on to research the law firm well. You may not have a problem deciding on the firm, but you need to understand what kind of work you will be doing before submitting your CV. You may work with a firm that will give you a huge signing bonus, but at the same time, you may end up doing a job for which you are not skilled. On the other hand, you may have an opportunity to get a huge signing bonus working with a prestigious law firm, but you may not get good work if you are not a high-caliber lawyer.

Know what you’re worth and ask for it!

To let you know exactly what you need to bring to the table to get a fantastic signing bonus, hireXChange surveyed law firms hiring lawyers in 2018 and asked them how much signing bonus they were willing to offer to new and current lawyers who are willing to sign up with them. The survey reveals that law firms have started providing a minimum amount a new lawyer could get to sign up with them for the first time since the inception of the survey. The top three positions are those of Criminal Defense attorney, Internet Lawyer, and Housing Lawyer. This also shows that lays in some particular fields of practice get a huge signing bonus because of the peculiarity of their practice.

Take advantage of any pre-hire offers.

According to the company’s website, it is always helpful to understand the market conditions and become aware of the hiring policies of different law firms before you can decide on any firm. For example, some law firms allow bonuses to their best-performing employees or people who prove great assets to the law firm. The best hiring practice is to ask for any data related to bonuses, and the outcome should be comforting to you. Then, negotiate the signing bonus with the hiring lawyer. You should be more cautious and diligent while negotiating with the hiring lawyer so that you do not get lost, or else you should be stuck with paying an amount that you are sure to hate to pay.

Thrive in your first year to show the firm they made the right decision

An increase in your initial hiring price may provide an idea to the firm whether they will find you a good fit for their team or not. There is certainly thought of how long you have to wait for the job to turn into a permanent solution. 

  • What you can do to increase the amount you get is continue to perform well during the first year. Law firm signing bonuses range from $15,000 to $35,000, but it is always better to be on the high side of the range. This will give a boost in getting better and bigger opportunities for the future. 
  • How to beat the competition to be successful: They say size does not matter, but how the power dynamics work within the client, you need to demonstrate your loyalty towards the firm. The first step is the introduction. The way you introduce your work ethics and performance over time will show how well you can handle the organization’s business. Certainly, to thrive in your new position, you must understand that the role you hold has several duties and tasks that are supposed to be performed up to the excellence stage. Aside from this, you would fall short of your reputation in the organization as a good hired candidate. 


The Signing bonus has become a huge thing among legal associates in the present time. Besides, legal firms have been sorting after high-performance associates who are dedicated and ready to bring in extra gain and clients to the organization. Also, the trend of law firm signing bonuses is geared up by the specialization of lawyers in many fields where there are limited capabilities. Certainly, the competition and the offering of a signing bonus at the back scene are also contributing factors to the increase of how much is offered as a signing bonus to most mid-level associates.


Should I negotiate higher signing bonuses than what is provided in the offer letter?

Although only a few law firms offer hiring bonuses that are assisted with their hiring process, mostly for few positions. However, getting an increase for your signing bonus is quite possible; it is then based on your negotiating power and skills. The very high signing bonus is meant for candidates with high skills and difficulty finding suitable applicants to fill the roles.

Do I get the risk of my offer pulled if I try to negotiate my bonus?

No, as long as you find the best way to negotiate an increase on your bonuses, your request can only be granted or denied. However, before negotiating for a higher bonus, you must consolidate your offer first.

Law Firm Signing Bonus- Why do law firms offer bonuses?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top