Ten firms' staff scored their management under 50%. Accusations of opaque, confused, absent and/or fatigued leadership bound them together.

At BLM (48%) the new boss "seems to be rowing the boat in the right direction. Definitely compared to short-sleeve-Brown". But, said a junior solicitor, "to get anywhere you still have to wade through a tide of passive aggression from the partners". They "are trying bless them", said another junior solicitor. "But I am sure the SS got less aggressive emails from the Fuhrer than we do from the head of Business Stream One telling partners they should be setting examples with billing, and publicly naming and shaming those of us who dare fail to return a bill within 72 hours".

A lawyer at Freshfields (48%) complained that it "would be nice to see the huge innovation drive from senior management actually result in something", while at Plexus (also 48%) the bureaucracy was swelling. "The last time so many people with no fee earning targets were gathered together was the World Pro Bono Olympics", said a junior solicitor. "There are dozens and dozens of them!!!"

bottom 10

Shock churn at the top of London management battered Squire Patton Boggs (46%) in 2018/19. "Times have been turbulent this year", said a senior solicitor. "See recent RoF article on London MP departure (particularly the comments...)". It was a "shambles", said one lawyer, asking, "who is running the place?" Management "is absent", said a junior solicitor. Others were more positive. "With [redacted] Weekes finally out", said a solicitor, "the firm can hopefully quit being so tight fisted and get up to speed with other rivals". The old MP "got the boot which p*ssed some people off", said a junior solicitor, "and now Steven Mahon is wielding the axe left right and centre. Once he's done there'll be little left of what used to be Hammonds LLP. Don't know if that's a bad thing or a reason to celebrate. But I do watch with glee how it pisses some people off to see him fly in once a month First Class from some US sh*tehole and tell everyone they must work harder".

The perceived distance of bosses from staff was an issue for some at Norton Rose Fulbright (39%), where a senior solicitor suggested it felt like the management "are fighting fires such as relating to SAP integration and working out how to re-engineer our use of space in the building", rather than "clearly communicating where the firm is going, what our culture should be and where we fit in the market". 

A yearning for information was a common condition of staff rating their firms poorly. "Communication from the top is lacking", said a junior solicitor at Shoosmiths (36%). "Want to know more about what is going on and the firm's plans, any why they don't pay us more!" There were also discrete issues. "The partner in charge of our team idolises Harvey Specter from Suits", said a staff member. "He says he loves him. In fact he tries to base his own persona around him - but fails because he is just a deluded weasel. That's management at Shoosmiths for you". 


specter

The Problem With Management.


A sense of ennui pervaded responses from staff at club-killers Blake Morgan (33%)."They are trying to make some changes to improve things", conceded a senior solicitor, "but it does feel like we're just recycling things we've done before ". As for the decision "to take expensive office space" in London "with no high value pipeline work to pay for it", said a junior lawyer, it "seemed opportunistic at the time and foolish now we are downsizing to 1 floor". 

Golden Turd Ince Gordon Dadds (20%) earned the title in large part for the "lack of communication from management, especially regarding the merger". Leadership "has been so disappointing", said staff, "especially from a business services perspective. Rumours and gossip are usually the only source of information, and it usually comes from Partners and members of the senior leadership team". A trainee said, however, that while "in the past, the firm's management has had problems with transparency and communication, which has powered a relentless rumour mill", things had "improved significantly since Peter Rogan took over as interim International Senior Partner and will hopefully continue to improve post-merger".

Down on 19% lay Slater and Gordon. "Reactionary". "No idea what they are doing, so desperately trying to be seen to be doing something". But, said a junior solicitor, there are apparently "Big changes this year - positivity and thoughtfulness coming from the new team".

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Comments

Anon 08 March 19 08:46

We have management at Slater & Gordon? I thought this ship was being piloted by Krusty the Clown! 

Anon 08 March 19 10:02

It seems that NRF management think that the performance in this year’s survey is all about the upheaval the change to SAP has brought - while this is a contributing factor, the comments in a number of categories on ROF have shown that disquiet at the firm is much more pervasive than that for a number of reasons. I’m concerned that if they don’t acknowledge this and do something about it, things could get worse.  The culture of the firm used to be central, but now I’m not sure management know (and they are certainly not communicating) what it’s culture should be. 

Anonymous 08 March 19 10:18

I'm not sure you do have management at S&G, do you?  They keep getting sacked, don't they?

Anonymous 08 March 19 10:57

Culture of NRF has been on the decline for a long time without any recognition of that fact by management. Distinct areas where deadwood partners who contribute nothing and supervise no-one and completely rely rely on their junior associates to work American-firm level hours to deliver their deals for them. Couldn't continue forever without them being called out for it 

Hey Nonny Nonny 08 March 19 13:36

My bronze medallion regional firm with international aspirations doesn't feature in the ROF firm of the year, but if it did, it would definitely be the best, in every way imaginable, especially the "opaque, confused, absent and/or fatigued leadership" category. 

Anon 08 March 19 13:58

Not every team at NRF is this bad.  Slightly unfair for those that try to (and do) do things well.  Even if they are not in the majority. 

Anonymous 09 March 19 14:12

Yep, there's a fair few Harvey Specter wannabes-cum-far-from-a-bes swaggering round the Shoo. 

Anon 09 March 19 16:42

@Anon "Not every team at NRF is this bad." 

None of the comments published suggest that none of the teams at NRF "do things well". The comments have been largely directed towards poorly-received management decisions and the changes in culture that can largely be attributed to those decisions. This is evidently felt across the firm and criticism is not "unfair" just because there remains a few sub-teams in a huge global firm that still enjoy strong leadership and good culture. These results are completely unsurprising to anyone with their eyes and ears open to the office floor over the past year. Hopefully management will recognise this and take steps to address the deep-seated issues which their employees have finally had the opportunity to air.

Anon 14 March 19 07:21

Shoosmiths senior management is comprised of weak, talentless, uninspiring, invisible, callous, cynical/ dishonest lifers who are prepared to throw decent hard working members of the business under the bus simply to appease the inner sanction of partners who control the business. It is one of the most hypocritical hierarchical firms you will ever come across. The mantra which is trotted out by senior management is “The Shoosmiths Way” which seems to be manage the business in such a way to protect the useless under performing sacred cows within the partnership starting right at the top with the chief executive. Shoosmiths is a shameful place to work so don’t believe any of the hype.

Anonymous 14 March 19 11:20

One partner at the Shoo told be I needed to act more like Harvey.  I don’t work there any more.

legin 14 March 19 12:39

"But I do watch with glee how it pisses some people off to see him fly in once a month First Class from some US sh*tehole and tell everyone they must work harder".

Brutal and hysterical. Anyone know what's the mood like at SPB?

anonyomous 15 March 19 13:22

just adding to deluded weasel - "don't you know who I am" has been used many a time.  Gotta love lawyers.