Slaughter and May to cut 28 secretarial jobs

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  • Partners in City law firms are some of the most moral, selfless, loyal, honourable and kind people you will find anywhere. They are the best of us.
    And this early Christmas present from the partners of Slaughter and May, current struggling on average earnings of just £1.84 million, to their staff is further evidence of the sheer decency of the group.

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  • What a shame they couldn't have deferred the decision till the late spring, so that the article could have been headed "Slaughtered in May".

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  • Money saved can fund more initiatives (parties and partner overseas trips) to develop stronger international relationships?

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  • Re. Moaning comments above about Slaughters being mean and miserly, not to mention cruel to sack people at Christmas.....
    Why is that we assume lawyers are somehow any less venal than anyone else? If a hedge fund sacked secretaries no one would comment. But we somehow expect lawyers to care about people they employ despite every scrap of evidence pointing to the conclusion they don't give a damn. Very odd...Perhaps we just hope or wrongly believe lawyers have a higher calling other than cash in the bank?

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  • Frankly, I'm just glad to be out of the place. All those bullying partners - screaming at everyone from secretaries to trainees to senior associates. I'm happy to take the 3 months pay off being mooted plus my notice period and go to a firm that treats people more decently!

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  • "go to a firm that treats people more decently"
    Good luck with that. I think you will find they all have a deeply sociopathic culture, in the City at least.

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  • I have a lot of sympathy for those being made redundant, having been made redundant in previous downturns myself. But the view often expressed in the comments on articles like this, that because the owners of a business (in this case, the partners) make lots of money they shouldn't review staffing levels and reduce headcount in areas where they consider themselves overstaffed is nonsense.
    That's not to take away from the personal impact felt by those affected - it can be a real blow and feel deeply unfair. But by definition charities don't make profits, and profit making entities aren't charities.

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  • @ anonymous 2 Oct 5:54pm
    I agree that redundancy may be a real blow but how can it be unfair when, as you point out, it would be nonsense not to reduce staffing levels and headcount in those areas where they are overstaffed? Are you suggesting that it would be only fair for the partners to make staffing decisions that are nonsense?

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  • CCH | 3-Oct-2012 9:21 am - I don't think that was what @ anonymous 2 Oct 5:54pm was suggesting at all (unless I've missed something) - quite the opposite, surely?

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  • @CCH, anonymous at 10.53am has it correct - I'm in complete agreement with you. The connection drawn all too often in the comments on these sorts of articles, between the need for / unfairness of redundancies on the one hand, and partner profits or general firm profitability on the other, is completely specious.

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  • Firm profits and partner earnings are highly relevant because they show that the redundancies (which are compulsory, not voluntary) are in no way an economic imperative.
    It is one thing for a business to cut staff numbers in order to survive, something very different for it to cut them in order to increase already super-normal profits.
    In the current economy (and the economy for the indefinite future) these individuals will struggle to find alternative work of the same type and same level of pay, and if they do will be taking it from others who need it.
    Actions such as these serve the interests of the partners, but not the individuals directly affected and not the wider economy and society. The action is immoral and also socially destructive and economically damaging.

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  • I genuinely believe in equality and that currently there is something very wrong with the profits City law firm partners are able to make, and indeed many other people within a number of different organisations across the City, when compared to the national salary average. However, as the system stands (which I believe needs changing) I believe it is naive and perhaps even unfair to criticise a decision like this. They run a business. Their aim should be to create long-term sustainable profitability. Keeping staff that are not required is a poor decision, and as such I do not see it as immoral in any way to take steps to reduce unnecessary headcount. It is unfortunate for those being made redundant, but why should they be kept when they are not needed?

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  • @ Anon 2:09pm “economically damaging”? Whereas paying somebody to do a job that is not required benefits the economy? Perhaps an even more bloated public sector could help, the state could employ 20 of the secretaries to type and the other eight to shred what has been typed. Hey presto, 28 people in fulltime paid employment and avoiding damaging the economy – a classic “win win” situation.

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  • The take away message is that one should never feel secure in a job. That said, one should always be on the look out for the next job.
    It may also be that the increased workload on the remaining staff at S&M will become unreasonable - i.e. the question posed may be 'can we squeeze more out of the remaining staff?'

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  • @ CCH | 3-Oct-2012 2:41 pm
    In fact, it would help the economy if S&M could pay for the secretaries stay at the firm and to just type and then shred even if it did not help the law firm. Lower paid people are more likely to consume their income than higher paid partners, and that consumption leads to higher aggregate demand in the economy, driving economic growth, and supporting higher levels of employment as a knock-on effect.
    So, if S&M wants to help itself and support wider economic growth, which will in turn deliver more M&A deals and more billable work for itself, they should definitely not sack these secretaries.
    If you are not sure, then please check with Keynes' great work: 'The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money'.

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  • the writng was on the wall when S&M stopped their final salary scheme within the last eighteen months,and although they say 28 full time equivalent will be lost this could equate at upto 61 people finding themselves jobless at christmas

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  • I haven't used a seccy in years. Wish they'd sack mine, give me a pay rise and dragon dictate, and I can use DPU for everything else.

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  • Slaughtering 28 secretaries, of course, justifies the partners' annual salary increases. I think they are overpaid to sit behind their computers and type their own briefs. Are married couples who are seeking a divorce call their soon-to-be exes "redundant" as well? What a world we live in. "WOW". Start slaughering from the top and leave staff alone!

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  • Poor trainees! They will have to master the running of calendars and the photocopying on the matters they work on. Not that they haven't been doing it before but now they will be the only ones in charge - with the possible help from print room and DPU. Nice relaxing jobs after midnight to break the monotony of a long night...

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  • I don't have a problem with a firm deciding that it is overstaffed in a particular function and then eliminating jobs to correct that. However, given that there is no economic necessity for the roles to be culled IMMEDIATELY - we're not talking about a firm that will go to the wall unless it cuts costs - I would have thought it made much more sense for them to be eliminated through natural wastage (i.e. non-replacement of people who leave of their own volition or reach retirement age) or through a programme of voluntary redundancy.
    Of course it would have cost more this way, but not a VAST amount more - and in any case, profit is NOT the only legitimate objective a business can pursue. As the firm itself says:
    "The atmosphere here is friendly and supportive - everyone's contribution is valued and we believe strongly in the importance of personal respect."
    I would argue that those values would have been better upheld with a less precipitate approach to downsizing the secretarial team - and what's more, the firm could have generated positive coverage from the story instead of a piece to which the response seems to have been largely negative.

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  • I've read all the comments that have been made by various individuals over these redundancies. As a secretary who has put in for voluntary redundancy, I am actually happy to be leaving the firm. I have worked at Slaugher and May for many years, and have always been very happy there. I do not regard it as having been done in a cold hearted way.
    We have been anticipating redundancy for the best part of 10 years. There have been many secretaries sitting around doing nothing and the firm has chosen not to make anybody redundant until now, instead going down the natural wastage route and not recruiting for a few years.
    As I have been there for a number of years, my considerable payout will last me nicely until it is time for me to retire properly - so I go with a song in my heart and a smile in my lips for this redundancy package which has enabled me to pack up work a few years earlier than I originally intended.

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  • Money sloshing about. Bad admin......

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