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Who’d be a magic circle lawyer? Your profits are tumbling, your market share is dwindling and you can’t even fill out a questionnaire.
This week The Lawyer releases the results of its first-ever in-depth HR survey. Coinciding with the end of the consultation period for the Department of Trade and Industry’s ‘Accounting for People’ project, which considered best practice in human capital reporting, it’s a timely publication. But just as noticeable as the drop in revenues suffered by the magic circle this year is the absence of Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Allen & Overy from the survey.
Congratulations to Freshfields for being the sole premier league member to prove that it takes HR issues as seriously as the Government.
It’s worth comparing the attitude of firms that refused information with some of those that could be bothered; firms that, it could be said, seem to place more emphasis on transparency and the well-being of its people than others we could name. Well over 50 firms responded to the request for information on HR issues, which ranged from salary rates to benefits to appraisals. And it threw up some fascinating results.
Nottingham’s Browne Jacobson, for example, discontinued its general bonus system last year in favour of a partner-only wedge, which ranges from £5,000 to £30,000. And Fladgate Fielder has run an annual bonus-linked self-appraisal system since 2003. Launched in the property group, it is now going to be rolled out to the rest of the firm.
Training opportunities on the whole are excellent at most of the firms that responded (we can only guess at those in the magic circle). Landwell was the only firm to say it ran a mentoring system for assistants, but the growth of the 360° review suggests that there are plenty of avenues open to assistants to make their views known.
We would be failing in our duty, however, to let this opportunity pass without highlighting some of the most crucial facts to emerge from the survey: perks. Lovells, for example, includes an onsite chiropody service and discounts to theme parks. Or Olswang’s quarterly massage. And who could forget Pannone & Partners’ Christmas shopping day, summer family barbecue, bonus Christmas holiday and – wait for it – cakes.
It’s not all Victoria sponges, though, and if you’re an assistant looking to move, we can’t tell you absolutely the best places to work. But we can suggest a few to avoid.