Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is playing good cop bad cop with staff, easing off on pandemic pay reductions while simultaneously making redundancies.

The firm imposed 15% pay cuts in May on staff earning more than £32,000, but a "stronger than expected" start to 2020 means it will lower the reductions to 7.5% from August to the end of the year.

But 19 lawyers and 26 business services staff in the UK will experience permanent pay cuts of 100%. BCLP said that in the face of continued economic uncertainty around the globe, it was undertaking "targeted reductions". The latest redundancies follow 30 (long-planned) job cuts in April.

BCLP downplayed the significance of the latest redundancies, stating that they would impact a "very small proportion" of its workforce. The firm is also closing its "small Beijing office". The outpost was described on BCLP's website as part of the firm's "strong presence" in the region, but times change, and now its demise represents the firm "tightening its footprint in Asia".*


"While a difficult decision to make, we believe the limited adjustments to our workforce are in the best interest of our clients, our business, and our people for the long term”, said BCLP co-chairs Lisa Mayhew and Steve Baumer. "Looking ahead, we plan to continue taking proactive steps to provide as much clarity as we can to all our colleagues and to ensure our Firm is best positioned moving forward".

Travers Smith has also taken new cost-cutting measures, but it has steered clear of redundancies. Instead it has deferred salary reviews and reduced its annual firm-wide bonus. A source complained that Travers had cut the bonus "despite the firm recording its third highest revenue ever‘". A Travers spokesperson explained that a bonus was still being paid, albeit at a "reduced rate".

The City firm appears to be trying to navigate an equitable 'share the pain' approach. Back in April, it reduced monthly drawings for partners and deferred their profit distributions. Travers has also made no use of the government furlough scheme and, throughout the crisis, has kept all its staff on full pay.
"The last few months have seen trading conditions unlike any we have seen previously; however, the firm continues to perform well and the measures we have put in place help us ensure prudent cash management during this period", said a spokesperson.

*It's been illegal in China to tighten actual footprints since 1912.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 17 July 20 09:52

"Deferred salary reviews" - disingenuous from Travers here. They have stopped associates moving up lockstep pay bands - essentially you are one year more qualified but paid the same as you were last year (less if you take into account inflation, cost of living). Meanwhile associate charge out rates will increase, so the firm pockets any savings.

For a firm that makes such a big deal about its lockstep and "collaborative approach" this is not a good look. At least be honest about it.

Coupled with a 2.5% "bonus" (by way of comparison semi public bodies like the FCA paid 20% bonuses this year) and a lot of associates will be looking elsewhere..


Not travers 17 July 20 10:52

Frank, I don’t think so. Still paying a bonus, partners taking a hit - these seem like fair measures in a crisis. 

Anonymous 17 July 20 10:55

"Coupled with a 2.5% "bonus" (by way of comparison semi public bodies like the FCA paid 20% bonuses this year) and a lot of associates will be looking elsewhere.."

Presumably lawyers at semi public bodies like the FCA don't get paid what's basically a Magic Circle salary to work somewhere that's actually pretty pleasant? Anyway, hope you enjoy your new role and big-hitter salary in the public sector.

Anon 17 July 20 11:22

Poor form from Travers considering its supposed strong performance. Associates should look elsewhere if this is its approach to such matters. With such a nimble practice (just two offices) you would expect it to be well positioned.

 The bonus, in quantum, is so low but to freeze salaries is essentially telling associates that once they go up a banding in pqe, nothing really changes. If that were me, i would resent becoming a 4pqe at this time but for all intents and purposes being a 3pqe. I imagine i would be charged out as 4, but paid as a 3??


Travers is still a corporate firm so i do wonder how “pleasant” it can be. Whilst there is not a huge variance in law firms (let’s be honest), high responsibility on midcap work can be a grind.

Anon 17 July 20 11:26

Not necessarily casting stones at the firms mentioned here but it would be hugely helpful if Rof could maintain some form of permanent/accessible record of how different firms acted over this period. There are plenty of individual articles but no central resource.

Some firms acted absolutely abysmally during the GFC but that all mostly seems to be forgotten now. It would be great if in 5-10 years time prospective trainees/laterals were able to look at a table revealing each firm's true colours when times get tough...

Anonymous 17 July 20 12:32

@anonymous 09:52 - A&O has done exactly the same, except they seem to have gotten away with it

Anon 17 July 20 16:11

”Travers are becoming money hungry“

Yes.  That’s just happened now.  Of course, until now it was a charity aimed at progressing altruistic values and helping to improve moral, mental and physical well being of the world and all the lonely sad people in it by making as much money as it could for its owners.....hang on a minute ....  

Ex FSA and FCA 17 July 20 23:11

Average salaries at the FCA are far lower than what even a mid tier firm like Travers pay. Also, the average bonus at the FCA is more like 14% - it's all in the annual report. People don't work at the FCA to get rich!

Anon 18 July 20 05:45

Ridiculously positive spin on BCLP request to accept a 7.5% paycut for the rest of the year (“easing off on pandemic pay reductions“) on top of salary freezes, no bonuses 

BillyBob 20 July 20 13:38

is that all BCLP?  naughty naughty, few more to go in Commercial Property but not announced yet...

Still at BCLP (Just) 20 July 20 16:07

BillyBob, of course that’s not all. The expectation among staff is that there will be a second wave of redundancies.

Related News