A&O finalises details of redundancy packages

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  • Bra&o!

    The announcement of the redundancy packages marks a culmination of a process which has at all times sought to treat employees with dignity and respect. Having dedicated employee representatives chosen by the employees themselves has acheived a great deal of transparency and has ensured that employees have been allowed to ask questions at every stage. The criteria selected for redundancy are fair and objective and recognise the reality facing the firm, i.e. a decrease in busyness at a time when associate attrition rates have dropped from 20% to practically zero. The redundancy package is generous compared to any peer firms and recognises employees' commitment to the firm, through enhanced years-of-service payments, as well as honouring bonuses already accrued. Although I find myself in the firing line, I feel that whatever the outcome, the process has been fair and reasonable (unlike the majority of firms that I have read about or heard about from friends). The whole process will inevitably cause graduates to use additional scrutiny when selecting their firms, but they should take some comfort from knowing that A&O has not allowed its reputation as "the pick of the magic circle" to be tarnished by this very painful (but sadly inevitable process).

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  • Is this for real?

    I can't help but think that the comment from "A&O Associate" was written by the A&O PR department. One thing is for sure- those of us in the A&O offices outside of London did not have the benefit of an open, transparent process, and the redundancy packages on offer appear to be far less generous than those mentioned in the article.

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  • Impressed

    I have never worked for A & O but cannot help but be impressed by the way they have handled this, in marked contrast to those miserable tightwads who were grabbing the headlines last week. People don't forget these things quickly. A & O have a record of handling tricky situations with common sense and intelligence.

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  • In response...

    "A real A&O associate" obviously has not had much contact with the A&O PR department if he/she thinks that they would be capable of drafting a comment as coherent as mine. I cannot speak to the processes in the A&O offices outside of London (which are a law unto themselves), but I am yet to hear of another firm in London that has handled the redundancy process as adeptly as A&O. I would love to hear of one (and will be sure to send my CV to them if and when I get my P45).

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  • A&O

    Will this be the turning point for A&O? Or another hump in the road?

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  • Singing the Co. Tune

    A&O Asociate's - don't be downhearted - maybe HR will give you a job

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  • Badly handled in Europe

    Sounds like London has been handled well, but I agree with "A real A&O associate" - I work on the continent and the process has been opaque, with no communication from management since redundancies were first announced (and usual office updates mysteriously ceasing), vague rumours of who is and who isn't leaving, and suggestions that half those who are going have already commenced legal action. In the absence of any facts from management, we don't know what to believe.

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  • Nightmare in Europe

    Being an affected non-London based A&O lawyer, I cannot help finding some of the comments (and the article itself) painful and almost cynical to read. The way management and HR handled the process in my jurisdiction was most disgraceful, humiliating and incompetent in every bizarre detail. It will leave scorched earth for years to come, with A&O anyway being at best a third tier player in my jurisdiction. A lot of my friends who are not affected will keep calm during this miserable 2009, but will change ship immediately when the market comes back. The same applies - believe it or not - to some quality partners. The whole process will cost A&O much more in the future. Leading law firms will clearly celebrate - if they could be bothered to look behind.

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  • A&O packages and generosity

    "A real A&O associate"? What a joke.

    You're right I can't believe how great and fair A&O were. Which part was the fairest: Paying what I am guessing is the minimum contractual notice and making everyone work 2 months of it unlike any other firms? That should be a great working environment, maybe HR should propose a drinks night with discounted prices to boost moral. Or is it the 'tax efficiently' as possible? As only the redundancy component is tax free if you have been there 18 months, essentialy they have generously 'giving' you 31/2 weeks (tax free) plus if they like you they might throw you a few thousand quid but you get to 'work' and pay taxes on the rest. God bless them.
    "The pick of the magic circle firms" - hilarious! Thank you for the 31/2 weeks and being so much better than any other firms. I should be able to hold off foreclosure for at least a month now.

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  • Future MC Trainee

    I completed a vacation scheme with A&O, and ultimately did not choose them to train with (it was a tough call). I just think how they've handled all of this has really shown that the firm adheres to its values in good times and bad. To compare the decent, sympathetic and professional approach of the spokeswoman with the attitude adopted by Linklaters (redundancy=a fun Harvard MBA crap rebranding exercise) makes me think that I've chose the wrong firm. And I don't think I'm alone.

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  • Who do you think you are kidding?

    Are we honestly expected to believe that the bottom post is some impromptu praise from an A&O associate ? Get real. A&O has shown a "great deal of transparency ". That would be a first. To take one example: A&O usually has a "leavers list" on its intranet. A couple of weeks ago, it was pulled down (it was getting too many hits, apparently). Exactly the point, dear David/Wim. People were interested in knowing who, from within A&O's mighty network, were being given the chop, not least because it is a bit embarrassing to recommend a colleage to a client only to find that the person in question has vanished in the night. Information as to how many A&O associates are being taken out in the night is not, however, and no doubt never will be, available. Such is the transparency at A&O. In fairness, the redundency package does appear reasonably generous, but then having seen DLA viscerated (whilst Norton Rose rose through the ranks to become everyone's favourite law firm), A&O no doubt calculated that paying its departing staff a little more was the prudent thing to do, particularly since it pales compared to the amounts they'll be having to pay their former partners to leave quietly. Just give us a break with the whole "we're the nice magic circle firm" BS.

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  • A&O Associate

    That is so obviously from the PR department - how very very lame....

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  • A&O Associatio ...

    Clue it was written by some dumb blonde from Essex who is probably reading Heat or else refreshing her home page to see if Jade's dead ...


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  • actually....

    That use of busyness is totally correct. I believe that person was referring to how busy people are ie their busyness. The word business describes what goes on in the City, ie the business of law, fund management business, mind your own business......

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  • Oh no it isn't...

    Sorry but that use of 'busyness' is clunky. A trainee using it in that context would have it changed by a partner.

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  • Back again...

    To answer some of my critics on here: (1) The poster that complained about what the redundancy package would be for someone that has been at the firm for 18 months needs a reality check. The fact is the vast majority of organisations would give you little or no redundancy after such a short period of work. At A&O, you would get three months paid salary and up to an extra 12.5k. If that only kees foreclosure away for a month then you obviously overstretched yourself; (2) If the removal of the "leavers list" is all the other poster can complain about, then things cannot be that bad. It seems perfectly fair to me that those people that are made redundant have the opportunity to tell people in their own way before their names are posted all over the intranet; (3) anyone who believes that "busyness" is in any way incorrect, clunky or otherwise objectionable has obviously never worked in a law firm; and finally (4) I am neither blonde, from Essex, work in PR, nor read Heat magazine. But I do believe that (thus far) the A&O redundancy process in London has been a model for its competitors. Having previously worked at both Garretts (remember them?) and DLA, I have some experience in these matters. So far, no-one's comments have demonstrated anything to the contrary or that any other firm in London has handled the process better. At least I know that if I were to get made redundant, I would have the best part of 100 grand to get myself back on my feet. Not bad, considering that if I worked certain other city firms I could barely afford by bus fare home.

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  • Arrogance, prejudice, pedantry

    To the poster of "Clue it was written by some dumb blonde from Essex who is probably reading Heat or else refreshing her home page to see if Jade's dead ...

    "busyness" "

    Dumb? Pot/kettle/black? ;-)

    And to the poster complaining that it is 'clunky' - when was the last time you heard of a trainee taking a draft response to a thread on The Lawyer to a partner for checking? It may not be acceptable in a contract, but it wasn't used in a formal context and succinctly illustrated the point. I suppose the poster could have used 'utilisation', but is that really the point of the thread?

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  • A&O redundancies

    Who are the smart-alec idiots who think that "busyness" in this context should be spelt "business". I agree wiht Pedant - in this context, "busyness" was correct - it is an internal A&O word for "utilisation".

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  • Also from A&O

    I'll agree that "A&O Associate" does sound a bit too positive to be true, but I'm also at A&O and would like to make a point or two.
    First, if we all accept that it's a hideous situation, A&O do seem to have handled it better than any of our competitors, both in terms of handling the process and the terms.
    Second, there is a genuine feel that A&O are doing this regretfully and respectfully, or at least I believe so.
    Third, I imagine there is a difference in how it has been handled between offices - partly reflecting the different laws and restrictions on what can be done. In London the size of the affected population requires a structured approach where in others it is possible to move more quickly. The fact I would point out is that no other firm has attempted to approach this from a global perspective - and I expect the job losses outside London are less visible than at A&O. I do think A&O could have done a better job of ensuring that the package in other offices was more commensurate with London's.
    Finally, the ridiculous point about the intranet "Leavers List". The way I heard that was that A&O wished to ensure that leavers in the faster moving offices were able to handle the communications about their departure in whatever manner they chose.

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  • Lovely lawyers

    The one thing that shines through both this thread and others in the same vein is what thoroughly obnoxious, cynical torerags so many City lawyers are.

    Both the partners and the employees in both A&O and similar firms are obsessed with greed. The partners make toe-curling comments about how much they regret letting their loyal workers go to the wall, while making sure their £1m a year is preserved. The employees, who with a couple of years experience seem to thjink they are worth 3 times the average wage, whinge and bitch because they're only getting a £20k pay off.

    A plague on both their houses - for those of us who left this snakepit years ago this is the finest vintage schadenfreude ever.

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