Staff at seven firms scored their management lower than 50% in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2020 survey.
At Clyde & Co (49%), there were complaints that “HR and the accountants - who are not lawyers - seem to have final say over everything, which is perplexing as they don't do the job which brings in the money”. But, they said, “New management appears to be very promising”.
Management at Freshfields (49%) “or, rather, mismanagement”, said a solicitor, “has turned a place where everyone was happy and friendly and nice to each other into a viper's den of the snakiest of snakes”.
Internal comms during the Beckwith Affair which suggested the firm “is so different now and isn't that lovely and great’" were "particularly galling to those who have been very much at the pointy end of some truly awful behaviour”, said a solicitor. Another said, “While I'm pretty optimistic about the likelihood of progress as the firm realises it had the ability to promote female leaders, we've a long way to go…”
MeToo did for Baker McKenzie (47%), too, where “Their handling of the Gary Senior cover up was an absolute shocker with no accountability taken”. The “hushing up of previous issues within the firm has impressed no one”, said another lawyer. “Couldn’t tip out a boot full of piss if the instructions were on the heel”, was one eye-popping verdict. “It's not exactly been an easy year”, said a kinder employee, “and they've kept the show on the road”.
They know what they're doing...
The Norton Rose Fulbright (47%) senior management team “are genuinely very nice people, but there's a tendency for them to chicken out of making big and difficult decisions”, said one lawyer. “Their standard response to any kind of 'issue' or 'market trend' is to spend millions of pounds on a consultancy firm / hiring new 'business executives' to brainstorm 'commercial solutions'.... there are now more business services staff floating around the 8th floor than lawyers, and that's despite moving half of the support teams to Newcastle”.
A colleague said the consultants’ cost cutting measures "seem to focus on getting rid of the small, but welcome, perks while not dealing at all with the real money drains (particularly the useless IT systems and the absurd number of non fee earners)”.
Watson Farley Williams’ (37%) management was described as “opaque”. Giving an example, a solicitor said a junior associate “was sacked just before the end of his probation period - he popped out for what was supposed to be a probation review and never came back, his stuff was packed and delivered to him”. Another said “We hardly see them, and when we do it often feels like they just want to tell us off”.
“They think everyone loves them, it’s so the opposite”, said others. While ”many partners are inspirational”, said a colleague, “I would suggest that a partner publicly labeling dissatisfied staff on RoF 'malcontents' is not good leadership”.
...and they're hitting all their targets.
Golden Turd Slater and Gordon scored a derisory 18%, meaning its respondents were mainly dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their management. Members of which, they said, “just compete with each other to improve their PR profile for the next gig they get after this mess finally ends”. A member of business services branded the leadership “Useless and toxic”, while another said, "Having worked in London for 20 years this is by far the worst managed company I've been employed by”.
They “Come out with so much bullshit, raving about the new London office on the intranet, we arrived, IT system crashed, photocopiers didn't work, was extremely noisy with wooden floors, yet they claimed to everyone it was fab. Bollocks.” Other verdicts included, “A complete shambles”, “farce”, “total bell ends” and, appropriately, a “car crash” and an “Accident waiting to happen”.
Blake Morgan was rated worst for management, scoring an abysmal 16%. “The board is made up of the same idiots who steered the ship onto the rocks in the first place", said one underling. "The logic would seem to be that, having got the firm into this mess in the first place, they’d know how to get it out. Unsurprisingly, that isn’t working”.
“A number of local villages must be missing an idiot”, said a Blake Morgan solicitor. “Completely clueless”, said another. “Last year revenue dropped nearly £4m, profit by nearly £2m. And still we carry on pressing the same button in the hope that a food pellet will come down the tube”.
“Armed with a compass, torch, diagram and a training course on the subject, I think management would still struggle to find its own arse”, said another employee. “Not a clue what's going on at the coal face”, said a senior solicitor. “One of my colleagues talks about the monkey puzzle tree model of management. At the top of the tree, the monkeys look down and see smiling faces. At the bottom, the monkeys looking up see arseholes”.