Ashursts rejects “poison pen' charges

ASHURST Morris Crisp managing partner Ian Nisse has fallen victim to a poison pen letter – purportedly written by his staff – which accuses him of allowing partners greater profits while giving many staff no pay rise this year.

The note, which is addressed to Nisse and headed “Your greed”, has been distributed to partners at the firm, as well as being sent to The Lawyer.

It begins: “As you know, a large number of your staff received no pay rise on 1 May and those who did generally received miserly amounts.”

Stating that it was representative of a “large contingent of Ashursts' staff”, it adds: “We consider you to be greedy and selfish and only interested in lining your pockets and the pockets of other partners.”

It goes on to claim that the memo has been sent to the managing partners of the top 20 law firms and its top 100 clients – although several firms told The Lawyer last week that they had not received it.

Ashursts senior partner Andrew Soundy said the firm had not taken the matter seriously because the letter was anonymous and “not representative of an organisation of more than 1,000 people”.

Soundy said: “We are a commercial enterprise and pay market rates. Staff are generally happy here and we have an open door policy so people can come and talk to us.”

But it is thought that partners did attempt to identify the author of the memo by checking its computer systems.

After Nisse was elected to the new post of managing partner in May last year, there was talk of a “power struggle” between him and senior managerial staff and several left the firm, including the head of finance, his assistant and the IT director.

One partner commented: “Any change of management will always bring some discontent”.

Partners at Ashursts were believed to have drawn up to £450,000 last year.