Firm of the Year 2018 Stories

Send Us Your News
The Golden Turd 2017
20 January 2017
Rate it

KWM has won the Golden Turd.

Out of almost 5,000 lawyers and non-fee-earners who rated their satisfaction with their firms, staff at legacy SJ Berwin were by far the most unhappy, awarding it a meagre score of 24%. Given that KWM went into a death spiral and entered administration during the voting period, the result is unsurprising. But staff weren't just unhappy. They were furious.

Prompted to state some good things about KWM, staff struggled. Responses included, "Hahahahahahahahahaha, really? REALLY?", "Let's leave this blank I think"  and, "Give them that Golden Turd already, goddammit". One associate noted that towards the end there were, at least, "a lot of spare offices in which to have long conversations with recruiters". But that was about it for the positives.

Mismanagement drew a huge amount of criticism. There was, said a junior associate, "Far too much energy and focus spent on the failed merger with China.There's a reason no-one else was doing this kind of deal. The firm should've stuck to its guns (and what it knew) and held out for a tie -up with a solid US outfit".

One staffer proposed renaming the Golden Turd the 'KWM Memorial Partner Turd Award', "forever immortalizing the utter, utter f*ckwittery that sent a decent firm down the pipes".  KWM was "Utterly mismanaged" by a group of partners "who wouldn't know integrity if it came up and bit them on their corpulent wobbly arses", said another. Perhaps staff should have known better, implied an associate, who admitted, "When I joined, SJB was a shop with a decent, if somewhat khuntish reputation, and I didn't mind"

  Sorry creditors, it's not real gold. 

If staff were unimpressed by the mismanagement which brought KWM to the cliff edge, they were incensed by the behaviour of certain partners when it fell over. While employees "carried out their side of the agreement and behaved with dignity", they had to "watch partners slap each other on the back when they secured partnerships elsewhere as if they'd scored the winner at Wembley rather than putting many, many people out of work". 

The manner in which the financial collapse was handled was "so utterly pathetic words completely escape me", said a senior associate. While "fatcat partners and associated rats have long vanished on the lifeboats, us grunts, including literally hundreds of associated support staff in the ship's steerage, are gonna go under". It "went from SJB to bust in 3 years", mused a colleague, "that takes some doing".  

RollOnFriday asked former Managing Partners William Boss (now at Addleshaw Goddard) and Rob Day (now at Proskauer Rose) and former Senior Partner Stephen Kon (now at Macfarlanes) to comment on the final, most-deserved award KWM will ever receive, but they did not respond. As the firm has now gone bust, the glittery crap will be solemnly interred by the RollOnFriday team in the dog poo bin round the corner.

If KWM had not collapsed, this year's shiny shite would have dropped on Kennedys, which posted 32%. It is, said a senior associate, a "Badly run firm in Birmingham which doesn't deserve the staff". The "wrong people are partners", said a junior associate, whose colleague agreed that the people on the letterhead are either "ineffectual wet flannels or rage-fueled terror hawks". Another said that "Some of the partners do not even bother to speak to the juniors". Who are apparently being signed off with work-related stress "in droves" at the firm, where morale is "absolutely through the floor". Salaries at Kennedys are "embarrassing" and prospects of a raise are "negligible even for those meeting their billing targets several times over". 

Dozens of Irwin Mitchell staff took part in the survey to secure it a place third from bottom with 33%, but it was lucky not to come last. Many cited "clueless" management which "asks for opinions and then does the exact opposite". It is "hopeless and advised by expensive, feckless so called BD and HR 'experts'" said another lawyer. Those advisers drew a lot of criticism. "I'd like to know", said one partner, "why we need the army of overpaid and it seems to me ineffective business support managers and directors". 

But partners also came in for stick. Those in Sheffield are "white middle aged men wearing short sleeve shirts" who "seem to think that Sheffield is one of the the three litigation capitals of the world: New York, Hong Kong and Sheffield". Other referred to partners "leaving all around us and all we are told is we don't need them. All I see is falling profits, partners running for the doors and no real direction".

It is "widely acknowledged" within the firm that the merger with Thomas Eggar merger was "a disaster on both sides", with TE staff paid "around 30% less than IM staff which is making the London office a difficult place to be". As for the future, equity partners "continue to strip the business every year and claim there is no money to provide pay rises for the people who actually do the work - it's like a Victorian mill" . 

Check back next week for the full results.