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Exclusive: Clifford Chance clamps down on cab cheat lawyers
19 August 2016
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Clifford Chance has issued a warning to its lawyers after discovering that a significant number of them are leaving work just after 10pm, when they can catch a free cab home.

CC lawyers can charge up to £60 a day for a taxi when working late. However, in an email to associates leaked to RollOnFriday, management revealed that the firm had recorded a "disproportionately large" number of taxi journeys "where the taxi appears to have been ordered just before 22:00 for a pick up shortly after the cut off".

    CC, 22:01 on Wednesday

The email acknowledged that there was nothing to suggest the bookings contravened the firm's policies, but nonetheless management had decided to remind all staff to "apply judgement in interpreting and applying the policy guidelines".

Just in case anyone was left in any doubt, the email also reminded staff that "all journeys are recorded" and that management received "monthly reports that are reviewed to ensure that the policy has been followed".

     

"Apparently catching a taxi home from the office at 10pm constitutes taking the piss these days" a disgruntled associate told RollOnFriday (at 9.48pm, after watching the Olympics on his phone in the loos for an hour).

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anonymous user
19/08/2016 06:55
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shock, horror: incentive systems (even accidental ones) work. A lot of people will work until they can get a taxi home to save commuting time. If bonuses are hours-based, similarly a lot will try (perhaps futilely) to work no more than they need to get the bonus.
anonymous user
19/08/2016 08:30
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Surely the fact that many people are willing to stay until 10pm, thereby increasing billables, more than pays for the taxis?
anonymous user
19/08/2016 08:45
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This guy just makes himself look like a cretin by pointing out that journeys are reviewed to ensure the policy is being followed when no-one has suggested that the policy isn't being followed but, more so, by imploring staff to ensure that their journey home is as cost effective as possible - surely this means walking?
anonymous user
19/08/2016 09:15
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Worth pointing out that this email was sent by a guy who doesn't work past 6pm.
Parsnip
19/08/2016 09:30
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clearly what they are trying to stop is people who have work to do until 9pm or 930pm hanging around to take advantage of the comparitive luxury and convenience of getting a cab home. Those types of benefits are always subject to abuse by some who work hard but then take the p1ss as they see it as an entitlement come what may. its the same with meals - if you're working beyond a time you can claim some food - notwithstanding that most offices are now surrounded by shops / cafes catering for all tastes and budgets. i dont think there's anything sh1tty about sending a warning shot. the email is clearly designed to let people know that p1ss takers will be looked at carefully but at the moment they dont have enough evidence to call anyone up on it.
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My view is, fuck it. A lawyer is remunerated on the basis of billing 7-8hrs per day. Bonuses in law firms are pitiful and don't reflect the pain and suffering required to obtain them. Most people get more per hour for overtime, but no so for lawyers.

Anyone working to 10pm has billed probably 10-12 hours that day. That's 3-5 extra (poorly remunerated) hours that the firm gets at £500-600 per hour. PER HOUR.

A taxi home is a pittance.


Although I do know of one person (a padder - you could tell because his hours each day always added up to a nice round number - Monday 11 hours, Tuesday 12 hours, etc.) who worked until 10 then went for drinks with mates and then used the firm's taxi policy to get home to Surrey, as he'd met the 10pm entitlement time.
anonymous user
19/08/2016 10:25
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If you think this is poor, what about Stephenson Harwood's taxi policy? Posts please.
anonymous user
19/08/2016 10:43
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Errr... so the policy is that you are allowed to get a taxi home after 10pm during the working week, or at any time over the weekend UNLESS you have a valid season ticket (that'll be everyone), or where public transport exists over the weekend (that's every weekend). What a lovely policy...
anonymous user
19/08/2016 10:44
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As a client, this stuff fvcks me right off. I get bills for taxis for lawyers who've worked 2hrs on my file. It might be the last 2 hrs, so the taxi falls to me. I don't begrudge paying for a taxi if I've sought advice after hours, or if the advice takes all day. But if I instruct a lawyer in the morning, and he or she does my work last thing that day it means (1) I'm low priority; and (2) i'm paying for the taxi.

Law firms should absorb these costs into their cost model - I don't pay a heating surcharge for work in Dec or Aircon fees for summer work. Yet....
anonymous user
19/08/2016 11:05
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Shouldn't that be 'disproportionately'? This is the key issue here.
anonymous user
19/08/2016 13:16
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Braying Tarquins up in arms about their right to take a taxi home *yawns*.

And equally laughs at the idea that lawyer's bonuses are "pitiful".
anonymous user
19/08/2016 13:29
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Aren't taxis taken after 10pm a tax deductible expense for the firm anyway?
anonymous user
19/08/2016 15:38
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@Anon 13:29 -

1) At the moment the rate of tax on profits is less than 100%. It follows that just because an expense is tax deductible doesn't mean it is not somewhat an expense.
2) What you meant to say was that taxis taken on an irregular basis late at night is not a taxable benefit in kind for the employee.

@Anon 11:05

Yes proportionality is important. The email was entirely proportionate to the offence it remedied. It could have (accurately but hysterically) referred to a breach of trust and fraud.

@Anon 10:15

If a taxi home is a pittance why don't well paid professionals either pay for it themselves or apparently wait in the office until they can get it for free? Taxis are not a pittance.

@Anon 09:15

I would judge an individual not by inputs (hours after 6pm worked) but by outputs. The city working culture is made unpleasant by such judgmentalism

@Anon 08:45

The constraint on law firm profitability is almost always not the availability of staff to do the work but the availability and competition for the instructions for the work itself. Proof - every time a partner receives an instruction the work gets done.
anonymous user
19/08/2016 17:58
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@15:38, No, I didn't mean yo say that, but thanks for introducing a note of pomposity.
Lydia
19/08/2016 21:36
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Sounds like they would prefer people to clock off at 5pm and go home.
anonymous user
20/08/2016 22:25
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Didn't the exact same story come out a couple of years ago - only it was 9pm rather than 10?
anonymous user
21/08/2016 19:29
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"@Anon 10:15

If a taxi home is a pittance why don't well paid professionals either pay for it themselves or apparently wait in the office until they can get it for free? Taxis are not a pittance. "


It's a pittance compared with the enormous pile that partners get.
anonymous user
22/08/2016 14:17
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Who gives a shit? Taxi fares are all billed to clients anyway. Cleary "David" is trying to justify his own existence.
anonymous user
22/08/2016 20:10
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Nobody has yet mentioned the honour pledge you need to digitally sign everytime you book a taxi, promising that you are complying with the firm policy.
anonymous user
23/08/2016 12:58
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Anon 14:17 "Who gives a shit? Taxi fares are all billed to clients anyway."

Erm... the client? *also taxi fees are not all billed to the client if you couldn't justify it, if there was an agreed fixed fee (which is the norm), or if there was a panel agreement on taxis.)

Never cease to be amazed by the number of city solicitors who believe in the first and second tenants of solicitor economics -

1) It all grows on the magic money tree.
2) Someone else earns more money than me = not fair.

To which we can now add the newly proposed third tenant from Anon 19:29 which neatly ties the first two tenants together.

3) It's OK if they can afford it.

This whole discussion panel is largely dominated by grown adults fuming resentfully about being asked -perfectly politely - to behave reasonably. In fact, I bet that more than half of you are now thinking - "well, define reasonably." And that, in itself, is a problem.

You are all more than welcome,

Anon 15:38 from accounts who earns less than half of what a solicitor with similar PQE would earn, accepts that sometimes life is tough like that, and spends a lot of time saving a disturbingly large proportion of you from either your own instinctively larcenous nature, your general commercial dimness, or a less than cunning admixture of the two like Anon 14:17.

PS: @Anon 17:58 - next time you are slumped bored rigid in front of your computer a few minutes before taxi happy hour, why don't you look at Income Tax (Earnings & Pensions) Act section 248 for an eerily close echo on what you clearly did not mean to say.
anonymous user
24/08/2016 10:18
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Anon @12.58 on the 23rd: the word is tenet. Not tenant. How on earth do you manage to convey advice to clients when you don't understand the language?

Anon client (earlier on): if you don't like your advisors charging you for taxis when the fee-earner has only done a couple of hours' work on the file (as you shouldn't) when on earth don't you instruct a different firm? Rather suggests you're allowing yourself to be taken for a ride generally (no pun intended).
anonymous user
25/08/2016 11:19
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Superb example of city solicitor logic - ripping off your client (actually, from your firm's client) is OK because the client has alternatives where they may or may not be ripped off. Of course if you were actually up front with the client about the fact that you were ripping them them off gratuitously, you actually would have a point. But then it wouldn't be ripping off, would it? #Duh!
anonymous user
25/08/2016 14:01
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Can the whiney client in this thread please p*ss off? This site is for lawyers to bitch and moan on - not clients. Anybody working past 9pm should be entitled to a free lift home, whether it's billed to the client or not.
anonymous user
25/08/2016 20:20
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Let's just call this for what it is. Racism, plain and simple.