Analysis UK Business Leadership Freshfields times it perfectly with pay freeze announcement By The Lawyer 16 February 2009 10:42 17 December 2015 15:30 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 Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 13:43 chance of redundancy “Most lawyers would prefer to be paid the same and keep their jobs rather than take a one in 10 chance of redundancy.” Seriously? I think that’s assuming a lot. Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 16:19 one in ten I agree. 99.9% of lawyers are arrogant enough to be pretty sure that they would be among the nine in 10, rather than the one. Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 16:22 Adolescence at the keyboard I’m offering here not so much a comment about this particular article, but a comment on how egregiously simple-minded most of The Lawyer’s coverage about law firms’ responses to this quite notable recession has been. The general editorial tone of The Lawyer’s commentary has been consistently adolescent, along the lines of “OMG, they’re freezing associate salaries, laying off lawyers, and generally reducing costs. How COULD they?” Your editorial perspective is truly beneath what I hope for from business / legal journalists. If occasional serious analysis isn’t too much to ask for, I’d suggest for starters that you go back to the 1990-91 recession and take a look at what happened then — and what happened during the next five years — and then decide how inappropriate (or not) most law firms’ responses thus far have been. I also respectfully suggest that you ask a grown-up to look at your work before you push the publish button. Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 16:34 About Time For many years the big circle associates have had it easy. Big clients easy billable hours, and a shortage of associates meant the gravy train ran far longer than it should. The tide has turned stop moaning and start earning your crust like the rest of us or you will be down the road. Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 16:40 Adolescence at the keyboard Adolescence get a life lad, the articles in the Lawyer are spot on, and reflect the times. I know you may well be wary of losing your job. As Norman Tebbit said get on your bike, and eventually you will find something albeit not in publishing I suspect. Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 16:44 Adolescence at the keyboard – SECONDED A rousing cheer to the previous poster. “when one of Europe’s four biggest firms puts an end to a culture of pay rises that has characterised its peer group for most of the last decade, it’s something of a sign of the times”. Would you say the same about one of Europe’s biggest banks that managed to avoid laying people off by reducing or eliminating bonuses this year despite the bonus culture of the past? Or one of the world’s biggest automakers? Magazines like “The Lawyer” exist due to the realisation that law firms are a business like others. Maybe it’s time we actually cottoned on to this. Reply Link Greg 16 February 2009 at 16:54 the lawyer I can’t see what your point is. the magic circle HAS paid bonuses for most of the last decade, this move IS an end to that.. what has it got to do with banks or anyone else? doesn’t sound like an opinion, just facts Reply Link Anon. 16 February 2009 at 17:02 the lawyer the lawyer often has a kind of sixth form socialist attitude in its columns about cash (when it isn’t knocking good firms for low PEP), but i think this was fair enough. besides, freshfields hav even written their own response! Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 17:07 RESPONSE TO GREG Without meaning to turn this into a chatboard, the point of the original “adolescence” poster was that the Freshfields partner was saying “we have managed to avoid large-scale redundancies by freezing salaries; is that such a big deal?” while The Lawyer’s response was “Yes, it IS a big deal, look at all the associates complaining that it is “really” a pay cut”, with a clear implication that the associates were justified in their complaint If any other major business currently affected by the crisis had managed to do the same it would be lauded for its efforts by any major business publication and employees who said “they are screwing us by freezing our salaries” would hardly be portrayed as justified. Reply Link Greg 16 February 2009 at 17:13 Really? I think you’re reading something into it that isn’t there – the reason they gave in the news email was that the freeze was a ‘sign of the times’ because it was the end of pay rises every year that we’ve come to expect. Which is fair, isn’t it? Why assume a reason that they haven’t given and ignore the one they have? Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 17:47 Welcome to the real world! How many of Freshfileds’ and other law firms clients are giving pay rises at present? Even companies that are doing well are exercsing a degree of caution and holding salaries until they can make a better assessment of how things are progressing – simple economics – pay goes up, people get made redundant when times get tough. What would be even more ludicrous would be if they, or other firms, announced that they were putting up their fee rates! Reply Link Anonymous 16 February 2009 at 22:55 Numbers speak better than words Put it this way: Assuming this is a law firm with 1,500 associates and about 500 partners. If the expected payrise is, on average, 10,000 pounds, it means that the firm is saving 15,000,000 pounds. This cost means 30,000 pounds per partner. In oher words, 30,000 is not a big deal for someone who earns 1.4 M (it is 2.4%) but 10,000 is a big deal for someone who earns 70,000 pounds (14%). Reply Link WB 17 February 2009 at 01:06 Get real As a final year law student with a training contract, I think I speak for most students when I say the current NQ pay appears more than enough to live comfortably and still have a lot over. I understand there will always be exceptional cases where lawyers have genuine large financial commitments but for all those who think that this pay freeze is some sort of tragic event (and are at Freshfields) please take voluntary redundancy and go try find another job at another law firm without a pay freeze. I’m 95% sure unless you’re a rainmaker you won’t find another similar or better paid vacancy at all, let alone one that befits your seniority which seems to be your main gripe. A reality check (possibly a bang on the head) is required by anyone who thinks they have been the victim of a serious wrong. Rant over. Back to essay crisis. Reply Link Egg924 17 February 2009 at 14:01 get real? “the current NQ pay appears more than enough to live comfortably” – so what? not the point. You can live comfortably off 35k if you;re single and live in a cheap part of london without even having to resort to Aldi! But there are much easier ways to make 35k in London, and indeed much easier ways to make 59/66/77/90k in the City. Pay at other MC firms is at the low end of reward/ risk/ effort spectrum, and when you have done four/ five consecutive years of 60+ hour weeks and see what people in other sectors are making with far less sacrifice you may have a diferent perception of what you should be aiming for in terms of wages. “I’m 95% sure unless you’re a rainmaker you won’t find another similar or better paid vacancy at all” – I happen to think that this is nonsense for good candidates. Which is an issue for FBD, after all, since they are in danger of losing their best junior/ mid-level associates who are capable of making the move – either now or in future – whilst those along for the ride are happy to stick with a wage that now compares unfavourably with other city jobs, be they in law or other areas of the financial services. Reply Link Anonymous 17 February 2009 at 15:20 Pay freezes It’s pretty simple – it is a pay cut but it is better than being laid off. BUT it must mean no rate increases to clients. More worrying is the attitude of partners – this persistent idea they are overpaying associates fails to acknowledge the cost of living increases in the last 7 years, particularly in the US. Firms will struggle to keep people when the good times return, and it will cost them dear – or maybe not, as the profession has had a major shift: associates have in fact become skilled workers who produce, not young lawyers, and so firms no longer need or want loyalty. Reply Link Anonymous 18 February 2009 at 11:25 Pay freezes vs redundancy programmes I may be missing something but I don’t understand how freezing salaries avoids the need for redundancy. As has been demonstrated (including in other comments below), the net effect of even a 15% associate redundancy programme is not that significant in the context of partnership profits, and as far as I’m aware none of these firms considers themselves to actually be in financial difficulty. The purpose of the redundancies is to try to balance the absence of work now and in the next few years with teams that are over-sized; a flabby system simply isn’t efficient and work product suffers. Firms making redundancies have (truthfully or otherwise) pointed out that its a “size and shape” issue not a “we want more cash” issue. Its difficult to see how you can say pay freezes are intended to achieve anything other than costs savings which in a partnership structure is the same as saying the partners want their PEP to be maintained at a high level. Reply Link BBS 6 March 2009 at 10:18 Lawyers would rather opt for pay freeze? “Most lawyers would prefer to be paid the same and keep their jobs rather than take a one in 10 chance of redundancy.” This is so 100% WRONG. Our firm offered a choice to our people – an across the board pay cut or redundancies. The PAs/ secretaries voted overwhelmingly for the paycut. The lawyers voted overwhelmingly for redundancies. Lawyers are generally overwhelmingly arrogant and believe they would survive a redundancy process. In my experience they are incensed that redundancy could happen to them, like they should be immune just for having the badge of a “lawyer”. We need to get real. Reply Link Name Email Cancel reply Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.