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If you believe that the City bonus culture is now discredited, then you do not work at Cramer Pelmont.
In January the 35-year-old London firm had an injection of investment banking culture in the form of managing director Alex Brassey. Brassey’s vision for the former property-based outfit (now expanded to include company and commercial and litigation) is for a firm within which a highly attractive performance-based remuneration is the key driver behind what is proving to be an aggressive growth rate.
According to Brassey’s rough rule of thumb remuneration guide, partners in most big City practices are paid on a one-in-four basis (ie if they bring in £1m they get £250,000), while those in the West End of London work on a one-in-three basis.
“Once partners are past a certain threshold [£350,000] we’ll pay up to one-in-two,” says Brassey. “In other words, we’ll pay them half their billings. If they’re bringing in significant levels of revenue then why shouldn’t they be remunerated well?”
The strategy has already seen Cramer double its headcount recently. The firm now aims to make it into The Lawyer’s top 200 list in the next two years.
Brassey dismisses any criticism that the firm is tapping into the old-style investment banking bonus culture. “There are still people making millions in investment banks, but these days it’s more about adding value and less about taking risks without any responsibility,” he says. “The partners we’ll remunerate well here are those who add value.”
Cramer is not the place for coasting equity partners who take too much out of the pot or junior lawyers looking for hefty paydays. “There’s no need to pay one year-PQE assistants £90,000 a year,” says Brassey. “They’re not worth it. These days procuring capacity isn’t the problem.”
Brassey’s straight-talking style is refreshing, but could also be indicative of a new breed of hard-nosed non-lawyer firm manager. Cramer’s performance over the next two years will prove whether this strategy is the way forward for ambitious firms post the Legal Services Act.
Managing director: Alex Brassey Turnover: £2.5m Number of partners: Six (including equity partners) Number of equity partners: Three Number of lawyers: 11 (including partners) Number of fee-earners: 15 Number of offices: Two Locations: Cavendish Square, W1; Crouch End, N8 Main practice areas: Property, company and commercial, litigation Clients: Acorn Property Group, Central European Estates, Kitchen Italia, Maison Blanc