Firm of the Year
UK City Firms
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UK City Firms
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UK City Firms
The firm is an unusual beast. 'CMS' refers to it's global network, now expanded to 59 offices (most recently Portugal, Luxemburg, Albania and Dubai) in 33 countries with over 5000 staff, it's become the sixth largest global law firm. However when you hear 'CMS Cameron McKenna' that refers to the firm's UK and Eastern European network. Slightly confusing messaging? As one London lawyer puts it,
"Are we CMS? CMS Cameron McKenna? No one really knows".
The firm has gradually been getting back since the unsettling days of the credit crunch when it made 43 fee-earners redundant and deferred its NQ start dates. In order to prevent further redundancies, a flexible working scheme was introduced in 2010, involving the vast majority of staff either working shorter weeks or taking unpaid leave. It acquired sickly Scottish firm Dundas & Wilson in May 2014, but as can be expected there were casualties, and 60 support staff roles were put on the line.
It abandoned an element of performance-related pay for partners in favour of pure lockstep, waving goodbye to its practice of sharing out around 5% of profits amongst star partners every year. The firm claimed performance-based pay was divisive and costly to administer, and unmodified lockstep certainly fits in with the egalitarian partnership ethos.
CMS falls somewhat between two stools: it's not big enough to enjoy the reputation and profits of the Magic Circle or the chasing pack. And whilst insiders report that staff are a
“genuinely decent bunch of down to earth people"
and praise of
"good work, good colleagues [and] an open and unpretentious environment",
it can't offer the collegiality of smaller corporate firms like Travers Smith.
The firm performed reasonably in the most recent Firm of the Year survey, with an overall score on 67%. There was relief at having left the
"Orwellian granite block” of
Mitre House (its London office) for "
" open plan offices in Cannon Street at the start of 2015 (though one lawyer says they are "
trying too hard to be an airport lounge
") . Partners are described as
"generally good leaders and active mentors"
and the firm seems very encouraging of flexible working which one lawyer says is "
not just lip service...the firm does seek to be ahead of the game with working mothers"
. Another agrees, saying they were "
encouraged by senior management to work flexibly during tube strikes
" and over the Christmas period "
and given the tools to do so
", with the provision of Microsoft Surface Pros.
Overall staff seem happy to come into work with people who are
"supportive, knowledgeable, friendly"
the social life and general attitude of most partners and associates make it a nice place to work".
The firm's award winning CSR and pro bono team also received praise with one insider commenting that the "
general charity work is outstanding."
There were a couple of grumbles that it is
"Relatively unknown outside legal circles, despite its size compared to equivalent-sized firms",
"Terrible branding/slogans which are hard to explain/justify to clients".
Overall, CMS seems to be staffed with an above average number of nice people and to offer a decent work-life balance, though it may suffer from an unclear offering. As one insider comments,
"overall a great firm that probably deserves more credit."
For more information on CMS
Salary (1st seat trainee):
Salary (Salaried partner):
Typical bonus as % of salary
Grant for GDL:
Grant for LPC:
Training places per year:
% of trainees retained:
RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores
Firm of the year overall score:
25 - 28
From the age of 25 the firm matches up to 5% contributions. From 30-40: the firm matches up to 8%. From 40+ the firm matches up to 10%
Enhanced (full pay for 10 weeks, half pay for 16 weeks plus return to work bonus)
24 hour photocopying support:
24 hour secretarial support:
Option to buy and sell up to 5 days' holiday per year. "Concierge" service to help organise domestic activities, but reported to be very expensive. On site doctor and physiotherapist. Life assurance immediately
Explanation and source of figures
CMS uses virtual reality helicopters and Ferraris to lure in students
Hopes to attract actual punters
DAC Beachcroft announces perfect trainee retention results
Norton Rose, CMS and Clydes are a bit meh
CMS defends poor trainee retention result
Full round-up of where trainees are getting jobs
CMS is binning lawyers' telephones
And putting its faith in the cloud
...but an annus horribilis for Mayer Brown
And not so hot at CMS, either
Dundas partner struck off after ripping off another firm's pitch document
Exclusive: Mass redundancies at Camerons, Dundas, Beachcroft and Trowers
Misery all round as firms rush to cut costs
Dundas & Wilson to merge with CMS
Sickly firm finds refuge
Redundancies at Farrers, CMS and Halsalls
2013 kicks off with 70 job losses
Top law firms agree to pay staff a living wage
But some still refusing
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