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UK Regional Firms

Bond Dickinson (Bond Dickinson)

Our view....

From humble beginnings in Plymouth, Bond Dickinson (formerly Bond pearce until its merger with Dickinson Dees on 1st May 2013) has grown to become a serious commercial contender. The Bristol office in particular has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 1998. Originally set up as a local base for the employment and insurance teams working with the Post Office, the office has grown incrementally through a series of small mergers and lateral hires. It took over Eversheds' entire Bristol property team and Cartwright's 11-partner corporate department in 2001, as well as setting up a clinical negligence team in 2004. Now the firm boasts offices in Bristol, Southampton, London, Plymouth and Aberdeen.

After turnover stalled at £46m a couple of years ago, 2011/12 saw a rise to £46.5m, and underlying net profit is now £6.3m. A focus on the firm's key departments of energy, insurance and retail has helped it grow steadily over the years - even through the recession.

Equity partners can expect to pocket between £190k to £345k, which is considerably higher than last year. Just don't expect the path to equity partnership to be quick or to meet with success. While PEP is increasing, the number of equity partners has dropped from 32 in 2009/10 to 26 today.

Litigation makes up half of the BP's revenue, although the firm also boasts a healthy corporate practice, which managed to pull in almost 30% of total revenue in 2011/12.

Bond Dickinson does not suffer from a lack of quality clients - with the likes of Royal Mail, Carlsberg and B&Q on its books. Although it still does seem to struggle to attract the real headline deals. And while its London office (set up in 2003) seems to be doing well and has in recent years been bulked up with a few high profile hires - most notably former BLG senior partner Richard Dedman - the firm has not been rescession-proof, losing 27 staff (23 of them fee-earners) in the last year.

Bond Dickinson is hoping those remaining staff, together with its financials and strong client list - which includes the likes of Sainsbury's and Virgin - are sufficiently attractive to pull in a merger partner. Back in March 2012, Bond Pearce threw in the towel after a months-long, abortive attempt to merge with Maclay Murray & Spens. But now they are trying again with regional peer and Golden Turd recipient Dickinson Dees.

Pay wise, there are a few grumbles with some lawyers complaining that the money is "abysmal". But whilst salaries may be a little lower than its main rivals, this may reflect the very decent 9:00am-5:30pm working culture. The firm has tried to improve things - at least for partners anyway. It introduced a merit-based pay structure for partners as of April 2007, so its star performers could be properly rewarded and hopefully less likely to jump ship to more profitable rivals. Plus there's a bonus scheme for fee-earners who meet their targets as well as a cryptically-named values scheme.

Assistants tell us there is a "relaxed, friendly atmosphere" at the firm and praise it for being "a great place to work with a huge focus on the personal and career development of its juniors," although there is a sense that it "wants to be national but can't break its mentality away from regional southwest." Maybe the merger with Dickinson Dees can change that. Staff also grumble about the "pants bonus "discretionary" scheme."  But if you can cope with getting paid less than local rivals in exchange for nice hours and a friendly atmosphere - this firm may be a decent choice.

Salary

Salary (1st seat trainee): £28,000
Salary (NQ): £38,000
Salary (1PQE): £40,000
Salary (2PQE): £42,000
Salary (3PQE): £44,000
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: Yes
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: %
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %

Training

Grant for GDL: £6,000
Grant for LPC: £6,000
Training places per year:
% of trainees retained: 86%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 52%
Development: 68%
Work/Life: 73%
Openness: 65%
Biscuits: 58%
Toilets: 68%
Social: 68%
Firm of the year overall score: 65%

Benefits

Holiday allowance: 25 days rising to 28 after 5 years
Flexi holiday: Yes
Pension: 4% contribution
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: Enhanced for employees who've been with the firm 2 years or more: 6 weeks at 100% pay, 12 weeks at 50% pay, 21 weeks at SMP
Target hours: 1300
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: No
Restaurant: No but in-house caterers provide discounted staff offers
24 hour photocopying support: No
24 hour secretarial support: No
Other: Travel loan scheme, cycle purchase scheme, holiday purchase scheme.

  

News Stories

Exclusive: "Fully integrated" Bond Dickinson launches two tier bonus
Former Dickie Dees staff get half what their colleagues pull in ... read more > (14 comments)
Bond Pearce and Dickinson Dees plan merger
Two small average firms may become one big average firm. Market trembles ... read more > (13 comments)
Maclay Murray & Spens and Bond Pearce fall out of love. Again.
Talks fall apart in latest twist in merger mania. Embarrassingly, it's not the first time ... read more > (2 comments)
  

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