News Law firms Clifford Chance to make 80 London lawyers redundant By The Lawyer 8 January 2009 10:45 17 December 2015 15:42 Sign in or register to continue reading. It's FREE Sign in Email Password Keep me logged in Forgot your password? Not registered? It's FREE! Register now Register with The Lawyer MagicCircleCorpLawyer 8 January 2009 at 14:03 Redundancy package Let’s hope the redundancy pay-off makes this slightly more palatable for those to be affected. Now watch the domino effect of this across the other Magic Circle firms…. Ominous! Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 14:25 CC redundancies I don’t think all MC firms are going to be affected like this. Linklaters don’t have the same problems for example. CC have gone down the commodity road and have to deal with the fall out. Reply Link Busy body 8 January 2009 at 14:27 Pay scales If they just halved the money they paid to their associates then none of them would have to be made redundant. I guess that doesn’t deal with the issue of them having nothing to do though…. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 14:49 Dead Wood Clifford Chance has never operated as a “lean machine.” They have huge numbers of business staff in the London office sitting around doing the absolute bare minimum. A lot of these staff members have also been with the firm for many many years and have been carried along. Surprising really, you would think CC to be a more dynamic environment. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 15:37 This is just the beginning… How long will it be before other City firms start making similar size redundancies? So far we have generally only seen a limited number of job cuts made by small mid size firms who won’t be consulting hundreds of people. Clifford Chance is brave to be the first- it won’t be the last. Reply Link Clifford Overy 8 January 2009 at 15:50 Re: This is just the beginning Couldn’t agree more. Magic circle firms have been reluctant to make the redundancies they have wanted to because of the negative PR implications. Now that CC has broken that taboo, the others will breathe a sigh of relief and do the same. Reply Link Me 8 January 2009 at 15:51 Tough love A bummer for everyone at the firm but in the long run this is probably more less painful than a year of redundancies dressed up as performance reviews, as elsewhere in the magic circle… Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 15:57 Clifford Crunch I agree with the Business Support services comment. There seems to be one secretary for every two fee earners, too many line managers and a high number of temporary staff brought in to do work which perm staff could and should be doing. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 16:06 Poor management It can only be poor management to hire excessively throughout 2005-7 then reversing gears into “performance reviews” and now redundancies. I do wonder sometimes just what is going on over there? Reminds me of the last time they did this half a decade ago…Viewed in that context, I guess no surprise there! I just feel the greatest sympathy for the associates and business staff being messed about because of poor management. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 16:21 Re: Poor Management The management of staff at CC is absolutely dreadful. Within L&DR you have a number of business support staff doing nothing and being paid very well for it. The partners walk around with their eyes shut. The most bizarre place I ever worked in! Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 17:22 CC redundancies To the poster who commented on Linklaters not having had similar problems to CC: Reader, Linklaters has been undertaking performance related culling since early autumn. All firms have the same problem, the solutions are disguised in different ways. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 17:31 Clifford Chance I think the comments re business support staff sitting around doing nothing are unfair and not representative across the firm. I worked at CC for nearly 6 years and having worked at a number of other law firms since leaving, CC work their support staff pretty damn hard! Reply Link Effie 8 January 2009 at 17:39 Not a fair fight I hope the secretaries and business ops who *do* work hard for a living get a chance to reply to this pretentious condescending crap. I hope they read the lawyer. Partners walking round with their eyes shut? whatever! If all of you 1-3 PQE lawyers were that busy you wouldn’t have time to read and comment on web sites. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 17:44 Fat Cats Why not just hold the consultation on those Partners that bring in very little and have their work done by overworked senior associates. Just a suggestion….. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 18:20 Across the Board CC has said that a separate review process will affect business support staff. Across the board there will be under-performing business support staff and fee-earners. I am sure CC will be fair in the process. I must say though, it won’t be a pleasant time for staff at CC. Happy New year! Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 19:19 Job Cuts To the comment “why don’t they cut their associates pay by half” instead of laying off people, I would reply why don’t they put back some of the equity dividends paid to partners (which sometimes reach, per year, ten times the amount of a mid-level associate pay). The whole performance-related culling is a hypocrisy: associates are not responsible for the generation of clientbase and they are not even admitted to that “cream” of the job. When business is there they pay their monthly pay with a two days work. When it is not, they are thrown out because they are not good (or at least, someone tries to make them feel as if they were not). Why in the first place were they hired to work with such names and kept for years if in reality they were not that good??? Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 22:01 CC Ultimately financial prudence is necessary at the moment. CC has done the right thing. In my view the firms that aren’t making layoffs are the ones you should be worried about. Reply Link Anonymous 8 January 2009 at 23:12 Do the clients have a say? The clients view and feedback on the integrity and ability of ALL staff from senior partners and associates to essential support staff who work through the night and weekends to get the deals completed on time must be a big consideration too in this process. Reply Link Future MC trainee 9 January 2009 at 01:01 Is there a better way? I think CC deserve massive congrats for taking the adult approach. It is clear their business has been most heavily effected by the changes in the banking sector, and they have also suffered from not obtaining as many of the big mandates as other firms (although people should not that most firms agree once these mandates dry up, everyone will be quiet). Personally, I would prefer to work somewhere that was honest in this way than using performance reviews a la Links (and other names). The only thing I question is why NQs are not affected – this seems a bit random. People making endlessly negative posts on here will encourage firms to use weeding mechanisms which are not nearly as preferable. Reply Link retired MC lawyer 9 January 2009 at 09:24 children? Future MC trainee: i do hope that 1 in 10 london lawyers will also feel that “adult” about it. Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 09:34 Clifford Chance to make 80… For many years, the larger commercial firms have had a rather sniffy approach to contract workers – locums. But look at the business model – law firms have fluctauting levels of work and, by and large, fixed work forces. That’s not a good mix, as the current bloodbath of redundancies illustrates. The way ahead for law firms is to have more people working on a contract basis in the “engine room”, an approach which will give them greater flexibility in meeting fluctuating client demand. City firms have the ideal option to take this approach with lawyers from overseas who want to spend some time in London. So many other industries do this, but once again the law lags behind the rest of the commercial world. Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 09:57 Spelling of Future MC Trainee Future MC trainee ? Not if your spelling is as poor as your short text here -you will be heavily affected by your lack of attention to detail. Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 10:20 Where is the government sympathy? When Lehman went down they got tonns of media coverage and government sympathy. How come for lawyers there is no such coverage or sympathy available? I think lawyers have contributed as much as bankers over the decades to make London a financial capital. Is our story being heard or are we preapred to sit back and enjoy our redundancy pays till the market picks up. Government only seem to be bothered about banks and bankers? Even the Car manufacurers, M& S employees, woolworths get noticed. Atleast these companies have acted responsibly towards their employees and have come clean unlike people in our noble profession who are hiding behind performance issues. Are they not thinking ??? Even when the market picks up who will want to work for these firms? I think we all would agree that CC has that level of honesty and responsibility towards their employees. Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 10:21 NQ Future MC trainee. Sorry that you seem to have caned by other lawyers for your poor syntax/spelling. March NQs won’t be affected as their numbers are lower than in previous years – the culling has already taken place through the qualification process. Reply Link Not an MC trainee 9 January 2009 at 10:23 Deary me The surprising thing about this thread is how many of you appear to be surprised. If you didn’t see this coming six months ago you ought to work on your commercial awareness. That’s something you said you had at interview, isn’t it? Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 10:51 De-equitising partners I imagine the most effective cost-cutting measure which could be taken by a law firm is to de-equitise a number of its partners, as done by Linklaters and Freshfields a few years ago. Oddly, it also seem to attract less bad press – at least outside the legal profession. Query if this will happen to CC in the near future. Reply Link CLCL 9 January 2009 at 11:00 Linklaters At least CC has the honesty to say the actal reason of these layoffs. Linklaters has been conducting under the radar “performance related” layoffs since last fall. Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 11:09 CC Redundancies To say that business staff sit around with nothing to do and work for 2 fee earners is a joke. I think the average business service/fee earner ratio is now up to around 5 and some a lot more. The best way to cut costs, get rid of half the partners – aren’t those the ones who sit around with their fingers up their a*s or their nose in a newspaper???? Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 12:45 CC Redundancies If any of you so-called professionals actually bothered to look at what is going on around outside your office doors you would have seen that the business services/fee earner ratio is currently running at around 8-10, would be a complete luxury to only work for 2 or even 5, that hasn’t happened for the last 10 years!! You’ve all had the benefit of bonuses and pay increases over the last 10 years, unlike the support staff, so stop bellyaching when you are at last affected by a market downturn, its been affecting us for a hell of a lot longer than you and will have a much longer lasting effect on us!! Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 14:17 RE: De-equitising partners It’s interesting that some of the other large firms are actually increasing the proportion of equity partners in these times, as this can reduce the overall salary bill. Fixed salaried partners can be expensive when there’s little work & profit, whereas equity partners drawings can be slashed when revenue falls. I also know that CC has a reputation of pushing non-fee-earners hard, so some of the comments seem harsh (although I’ve no direct experience). Reply Link Ben Haider, MD QC Legal 9 January 2009 at 16:25 Avoiding the cross-fire… I am not about to get involved in the rights and wrongs of what is going on. We do have regional law firm clients who would be happy looking at the lawyers that are being made redundant. On the principle of every cloud having a silver lining, those who are affected might consider doing something positive like giving us a call. The thought carpe diem springs to mind! Otherwise, enjoy the weekend… Reply Link Anonymous 9 January 2009 at 18:00 Clear Out There are some very hard working fee earners at CC and some very dedicated support staff. However, there are staff in both sections that do not pull their weight. You have business staff strolling in at 10am onwards and doing the bare minimum or fee-earners that are so incompetent you wonder how the partners can not be embarrased to bill them out at £300 per hour. Hopefully the management will use this as an oppourtunity to weed out the dead wood and “re-vitalise” the firm when the good times roll in. CC is a money making business and have shown they will take any measures necessary to protect the over inflated salaries of partners. Their decision to off shore paralegal work to India is an example of this. They recognise that paralegals in London are an expensive business unit and can save money for themselves and the client elsewhere. It’s a business and the redundancies are hardly a surprise given the current market. Reply Link Albert Camus 9 January 2009 at 18:59 Spelling This is all very interesting, but the guy who had a pop at future MC Trainee raises the even more interesting issue of how lawyers should not behave. It’s the infuriating and useless jobsworthy kind of foolish anal behaviour that is incredibly irritating to clients and other lawyers. The total lack of sense is staggering, and makes me think seriously about becoming a nihilist… Reply Link Partner 10 January 2009 at 14:11 Some people should be sacked The entire industry needs to look more closely at staffing levels. Walk into any large firm and you’ll see certain people working hard most of the time while others rarely work hard. Hiding with the system this way has become endemic during the boom among both lawyers and support staff. If the recession means this situation is corrected, then good for the recession. Reply Link Anonymous 10 January 2009 at 18:04 alternatives? sadly the last thing that will happen is the partners taking a pay cut. were alternatives like pay cuts across all levels, no pay leave, ever considered? and has anybody considered whether it is fair for the firms profits to be benchmarked against the last two years which were bumper years! surely something like a weighted average over several years would have been a better benchmark. probably shows that the partners dont give a rats ass for the employees… Reply Link Justin Ellis, iLaw 12 January 2009 at 13:42 Welcome to the real world Any normal (i.e. non-law) business, when hit by the spectre of falling profits, must do one or (preferably) both of two things: increase income or reduce costs. Clifford Chance are seeking to do the latter because, in the current market, the former is virtually impossible for them. The largest cost of most law firms is its wage-bill, so those on expensive salaries should be among the first to go in any cost-cutting exercise – simple logic. In any other industry, the news of 80 redundancies at the world’s largest firm would come as a shock only because the number involved is so small. Why do lawyers think their industry should be different? The legal sector needs to wake up and smell the coffee, rather than complain. Once the Legal Services Act comes into full force, we will not be protected by our insular position. We will be open to full market forces. If the current economic situation were to arise in 10 years time, with firms in public ownership, the Lawyer’s redundancy league would be considerably longer. The traditional law firm model is not fit for the real world that we will soon be forced to inhabit. Reply Link Anonymous 13 January 2009 at 15:10 Over Staffed I had the misfortune of working at CC and can safely say it is the worst working environment I have ever come across. Some of the business support staff have been there for 20 years or more. This has led them to be bitter and undoubtedly very very lazy. It’s a shame that HR isn’t subject to the review. The behaviour of one of the HR managers there was shocking to me. Completely unprofessional. Reply Link Market watcher 21 January 2009 at 09:52 880? A typo surely? It would be interesting to have the dates these announcements were made. In the case of firms making less than 20 redundancies, what odds would you give that there will be a second round after a 90 day period? For 20+ redundancies, a formal consultation and notification to the Secretary of State must be made but I wouldn’t be surprised if firms side step this by making less than 20 and then waiting 3 months for another round. Reply Link Anonymous 23 January 2009 at 11:58 redundancies To the poster who asked why NQ’s were not being made redunant the answer is becasue they ARE CHEAP LABOUR and generally hungry to get on – i would have thought this was obvious? Reply Link Anon 28 January 2009 at 22:12 Poor loves…. I’m sure the “enhanced” redundancy package being offered will soften the blow (and that did make interesting reading!) I’m wondering if the poor other unfortunates over at CC (i.e. support staff) will get such a favourable package – unlikely!! Reply Link Name Email Cancel reply Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.