"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."

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Anonymous 12 March 21 09:26

The lawyers' pay rises were absolutely dismal so they shouldn't feel too hard done by. The only winner is HMRC.

DaisyMae 12 March 21 09:57

At the start of the pandemic, the firm promised that the partners would bear the brunt of any financial impact.  Now they've had the audacity to acknowledge that the support function have made financial sacrifices.  Absolute clowns, and a hugely unhappy staff.  Just when you thought they couldn't scrape any lower.....


Anonymous 12 March 21 10:04

Well, if they are outraged that they missed out on what I am sure were market leading pay rises that were so huge they could be observed using the naked eye from the surface of Mars, then they can simply pick up the phone and move to one of the many firms in London currently hiring unqualified office inhabitants. 

Just open your window and look outside. It's a seller's market out there, bosses are literally trawling the streets with nets trying to find people just like them! Indeed it's got so bad that the RSPCC are worried that underage children might be swept up in it and put to work on spreadsheets all over the City, they're urging the government to implement regulations setting a minimum size of hole in the nets so that the young can wriggle free and escape back to nursery to finish learning the alphabet.

These people's negotiating position has never been better!



Anon 12 March 21 11:57

Yup Travers have done it too and tried too keep it relatively quiet for business services. Funny after the song and dance about business services being crucial to keeping the firm going during this. 

Anonymous 12 March 21 13:38

Baker’s stock phrase to their business support teams, ‘we know we haven’t always got it right’, which has been merrily rolled out since 2017 when they started their world beating mismanaged programme of restructuring the PBS teams. It is about time some people were held account for the absolutely disgusting way they are treating their people. Under resourced teams are being asked to do more and more and more. Insulted by partners claiming oh dear it’s awful but hey I’ll take no responsibility for my part in actually voting for this shambolic car crash to continue but I’ll shout at you business support person about it. All the while said business support person is expected to be on their knees and grateful to have the opportunity of working for the great Baker McKenzie. Wake up and get real and stop the nonsense about everyone counting. The evidence shows clearly they don’t. 

Anonym 12 March 21 13:40

Same at Travers but with lawyers' pay backdated to 1 July 2020, effectively not suffering any financial hardship and business support being 12 months behind any pay rise... 

Anon 13 March 21 15:40

Well Travers were sneaky and some favoured Business Service staff did get pay rises but were told to keep it hush hush. They’ll be another review in July when those same staff could get another bump up. We have to remember that the lawyers (as much as I have to say this) drive revenue for the business and so you have to keep them happy or the big American firms will snap them up

Noone 15 March 21 15:11

Well it seems that firms can practically lie through their teeth with no consequences. I'd rather be told that some staff are getting bonuses but that's just me...

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