"We're all in it together"
Baker McKenzie has restarted salary rises for its fee-earning lawyers - but kept everyone else's pay on ice.
The firm cancelled scheduled salary reviews in July last year when the pandemic hit. Fee-earners have now received a salary increase, reflected in their February pay, backdated to 1 January.
But Bakers has "shafted" business services staff, an insider told RollOnFriday, by still keeping their pay frozen, despite "a record year." The firm posted revenues up 1.2% in the last financial year, with growth in all regions.
"We've gone very Upstairs Downstairs," said a Baker McKenzie employee about the continued pay freeze, adding that morale was "rock bottom".
Despite firms banging on about being 'one team', a number of them have taken a divided approach on salary. Allen & Overy angered its business services staff when it kept their salary frozen, while hiking pay for its lawyers. However, other firms such as Norton Rose Fulbright and Herbert Smith Freehills have managed to lift the pay restrictions for all staff, at the same time.
"As a result of the COVID-19 economic environment and related market uncertainty, we have had to make difficult decisions regarding compensation. We acknowledge that we may not always have got it right," a Baker McKenzie spokesman told RollOnFriday.
The spokesman said that the firm would "resume our regular schedule of promotions, salary increases and bonuses for both fee-earners and business professionals" from 1 July - which means that business professionals will be six months behind the lawyers for any potential salary rise.
"Subject to maintaining our current financial trajectory, there will also be an increased bonus pool in the new financial year for business professionals," the spokesman added. "These bonus payments will give consideration to the financial sacrifices made over the past year. We know how challenging the last year has been for all of our people. We are incredibly grateful to our teams who have all gone the extra mile during this period."