Addleshaw Goddard: Onus on the bonus

Addleshaw Goddard: Onus on the bonus” />The growing pains of mergers and becoming one of the UK’s biggest national law firms has not been easy for Addleshaw Goddard, but out of it the firm has evolved an HR strategy that has proved a winner with the staff.

Competitive remuneration systems, defined career paths, alternative tracks to partnership and flexible working arrangements are all part of the firm’s HR strategy.
Led by HR director Judith Hardy, the function has 38 staff across the firm’s London, Leeds and Manchester offices, operating a complex matrix system that mirrors the firm’s practice areas. HR teams focus on learning and development, recruitment, special projects and a central group of specialist experts.

The firm this year broke into The Sunday Times best places to work survey, finishing 94th. Hardy attributed the result to the firm’s performance in remuneration and the learning and development opportunities for the staff.

“We try to reflect in our salary structure the performance culture within the firm, to recognise the contribution and quality. There’s a big focus on making it performance-based,” Hardy says.

The firm offers a bonus scheme for all staff, not just lawyers, of up to 20 per cent of the base salary. Associates must hit a base target of 1,450 chargeable hours, with other factors such as higher chargeable hours or ‘non-chargeable contribution’ used to determine the final bonus payment.

Partners operate on a separate bonus scheme.
“In the past year, every associate qualified for the minimum bonus, and 56 per cent qualified for a higher level. It was the first year of offering a bonus, so we expect even higher percentages in further years,” says Hardy.

As an alternative to partnership, the firm offers the position of legal director, and currently has 22 lawyers in that position, nearly half of them female.
“It’s designed as an alternative position to partner, and it’s intended to be a career in its own right,” says Hardy. “It sits adjacent to partner.

“The vast majority of the time is spent client facing, but it may not carry the same business development expectations, or it may be to purely service existing clients.”

Legal directors are remunerated similarly to the firm’s salaried, or junior equity, partners.

Hardy says the HR function has learnt some valuable lessons from the three-office model Addleshaws inherited through its mergers.

“Having staff working across locations is a small step from understanding that work can be done without the person being in the next room,” she says. “That’s just a small step from understanding that having the person in the office or at home makes no difference, providing they’re contributing to the team.”

Addleshaws offers a variety of flexible shift patterns for staff, including job sharing, splitting the working week between office and home time and annual hours contracts.
“There’s no magic answer – different people want different things and you need to have a balance response to meet different priorities. It’s more about giving choice and control to the associates,” says Hardy.