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Just as the legal sector starts to regain confidence following the UK's Brexit vote, Bond Dickinson has announced it will freeze staff pay - and is blaming Brexit.

In an all-staff email leaked to RollOnFriday, Managing Partner Jonathan Blair writes that the decision to leave the EU "appears to be impacting on client activity and instructions". Making grim reading for the Newcastle firm's lawyers, he refers to a "mixed picture across the business" and a "dip in activity" compared to last year. During the 2015/16 period Bond Dickinson's revenues dropped 3% to £104 million, while profit per equity partner fell 3% to 275,000.

Blair continues that as a result of Brexit woes, management had "very reluctantly concluded" that it will need to defer salary reviews. He says the firm will "revisit this again in November", once it has pored over the half-year financials and calculated what, if anything, can be coughed up for staff.



In August an email from Trowers & Hamlins' Managing Partner leaked to RollOnFriday which included a stirring invocation to lawyers to "take every opportunity you can to reassure everyone that the UK is open for business". Blair strikes a less Churchillian tone, pointing out instead that "as you may have seen, a number of other firms have taken the same step as us". However, this week two of them revealed they would un-freeze pay and a third said it would move ahead with pay reviews in November.
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Anonymous 23 September 16 08:06

There will be many others freezing pay in order to maintain the diabolical mid-market pep. It isn't Brexit at fault, it is more to do with doing low margin work, sky high overheads, equity partner passengers and expensive senior lawyers clinging on to work which they ought not to be doing.

Anonymous 23 September 16 08:46

The mid-market is over burdened with non-performing equity partners who contribute little and are grossly over remunerated. It is not a sustainable model and law firms will need to change sooner or later.

Anonymous 23 September 16 10:16

Associates should check their contracts for clauses entitling them to salary reviews in a particular month and/or entitling them to a salary review based on their performance.

Anonymous 23 September 16 12:13

law firms making excuses non-shocker. If work dips, they will be axing staff. The failure to pay annual salary increases is a convenient way to hoard a bit of extra cash for their woefully substandard partnership.

Anonymous 23 September 16 12:37

Never really understood why people talk about equity partner passengers. If you are equity, you own the firm. So you set it up how you want. If it doesn't work for associates, they should leave. Retention problem? Then you improve pay and conditions. But if there's no retention problem, why would you make major changes?

Anonymous 23 September 16 14:19

Anon @11:37 perhaps you don't understand how law firms work. The sales coalface is the equity, associates just do the grunt work. if you're not helping bring the dosh in, the question is why your fellow equity should keep you, since you're not THE owner but one of many.

Anonymous 23 September 16 14:44

Wait, Brexit is to blame? I thought JB blamed major IT investment (perhaps that two year Aderant upgrade project was a touch pricey?) for their poor performance.

Anonymous 23 September 16 15:16

When PEP rises 26% (last year) then it is all attributable to their brilliance. When it falls 3% (this year) then it is blamed on external factors. Every firm does it.

Anonymous 23 September 16 18:05

When I grow up I want to be an associate at the Newcastle office of Bond Dickinson.

Anonymous 23 September 16 21:00

So if I make it to equity I don't need to contribute? Wow that's brilliant except what if the associates and junior partners see me as a waste of space? Will they cease to carry me until I retire?

Anonymous 24 September 16 01:46

Remember that the partners now were mainly associates in 2008 when it was thought a good idea for the M&A team to get rid of all but 2 assistants but persevere with 4 associates and 12 partners. Great VFM!

Anonymous 24 September 16 20:04

Blame whoever. The upshot is BD has decided their staff shouldn't be paid a penny more.

Anonymous 25 September 16 08:40

So if I'm an equity partner I've made it and can be a passenger? You might have a shock coming.

Anonymous 29 September 16 00:35

What is the issue? At the end of the day, the firm hasn't increased its profitability over the last twelve months and I don't see why the families of the very well remunerated partners should have to suffer.