Eversheds Sutherland (London)
Things seem to be on the up at Eversheds.
The firm won a Golden Turd in the Firm Of The Year Survey
2010 by a country mile after making a massive number of staff redundant - 735 in all during 2008/09. And whilst it's possible that the firm had needed to do this for years, its London senior partner didn’t need to send an email pointing out that he was sharing in everyone’s pain by foregoing pudding, and paying the bare minimum statutory redundancy was frankly shameful.
That was then - but have things improved? Well, yes and no. For the last two years financials have been flat, with turnover at £380.7 million in 2014/15. Partners may well have hoped that a leaner firm would resolve
Eversheds’ long-term headache of inconsistency across offices, a result
of its aggressive policy of expansion via merger. This made it difficult
to convince the market that it was a single body with an identifiable
corporate culture rather than a collective of smaller firms. Over recent
years some of the less profitable offices have been abandoned and smart
new ones have been launched.
In looking to expand, the firm courted US firm Foley & Lardner in 2015, but a merger
failed to materialise. However in 2017 it netted US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan and became Eversheds Sutherland. Sutherland was a far smaller firm than the Shed, but it does give it what the UK firm coveted: a foothold in the US.
While Eversheds' slightly clumsy vision - to become "a great place to work and the most client-centred international law firm
" – looked dead in the water in 2010, it has fared better with staff in subsequent Firm of the Year
Still hanging out in the bottom half of the table, at least there have
been a good clutch of firms below it and a bit of distance from the Golden Turd. Eversheds staff are generally described
as a "friendly and normal
" bunch, with relatively few "stuck up law-types
". The firm comes in for praise with its "huge range of client and international secondment opportunities
". And for those in the UK that don't fancy the big smoke there's "good quality work in the regions
The firm encourages junior staff to take on business development and awards "a bonus for successful initiatives
". One lawyer praises the firm for being innovative with various projects,
although noted that it "sometimes tips over into novelty for novelty's sake"
. However a slightly more cynical lawyer says there is a "huge amount of corporate bullshit"
adding "if I had a boss who didn't see through it, I couldn't handle it
". Whilst another complains that the firm "couldn't spell innovation, let alone deliver it
Salaries are described as "below market"
with bonuses "almost non existent
". And despite high billing expectations "money stays at the upper echelons and doesn't cascade down
" according to one lawyer. Some accuse the firm of "bleeding talent
", with staff leaving because of pay. Other lawyers say they feel "undervalued
And there are mixed reports about management. One lawyer believes that there has been "much greater transparency from management
" in recent times. However others are less positive saying "they keep promoting all the wrong people into management positions. People entirely clueless about what it means to run a business, whose main asset is its people"
. Whilst another says "the senior management team is utterly ruthless
While the firm is definitively mid-market it has some stand-out
practices including its public sector group, which has advised the MoJ
on the expansion of prisons and regional development agencies on around
£400m worth of EU-financed funds. Pensions and employment are also
fast-growing areas. Although Eversheds' failure to grab a proper piece
of the high-end corporate and finance action in the City - despite
concerted attempts to do so - must grate with the firm, even if it's
been suggested that the firm is at least starting to wake up from
hibernation on that front.
On the plus side, there does appear to be a huge range of flexible working options, from career break to reduced hours, remote working and job sharing. Although one lawyer claims that the firm "talks the talk but definitely does not walk the walk in flexible working - you're definitely assumed to be slacking if you work from home and it's implicitly discouraged
Overall the London office is making strides, even if it's still got a way to go before it can match the deal on offer at its City competitors. A work in progress.
For more information on Eversheds click here.