"Thankfully the windows are double-glazed, so we can't tell if the business services staff outside are laughing or crying..."

The Clifford Chance litigation department has angered business services staff by handing out a £250 meal voucher to its lawyers, but not the non-lawyers.

The Magic Circle firm's dispute team in London has sparked an 'us and them' divide by only offering the food coupon to its fee-earners. A source said the lawyers were told to splash the cash by taking "their families out to a nice lunch or dinner".

Meanwhile, the department’s business services team (which includes BD, PAs and paralegals) only received a box of chocolates. The disgruntled source added that the lawyers also received the confectionery too, making even the sweetest Belgian praline turn sour for business services staffers. The infuriated source said they didn't think the lawyers would have enough room for their chocolates "after their slap up meals."

The firm declined to comment. 

The gifting of little perks can be a minefield for firms to get right when trying to please staff. Last year, an Allen & Overy lawyer was distressed at receiving a £10 Percy Pig voucher

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Dave 02 June 23 09:35

The BD staff are going to be really upset when the fee earners get five or six figure bonuses next week and they get nothing.

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:26

Heated scenes at Meta this week as its social media moderation team were outraged to discover that they were paid less, and given lower value perks, than its team of highly skilled programmers who make provide the actual product that enables the whole business to run.

Always amazing to read these headlines in which people paid top-of-market salaries for providing basic secretarial, admin, and marketing assistance then gripe that they aren't being given the same treatment as the magic-circle lawyers who make the business of their firm possible.

Anony-mouse 02 June 23 10:29

This sort of caper goes on all the time at firms. You say that this has 'sparked' an 'us and them' divide, but really it's just an article about the status quo in law firms. 

Fee Earner 02 June 23 10:35

If BD understood that (i) they do not generate any revenue and (ii) none of them actually understand what lawyers do on a daily basis, then they would stop comparing themselves to the people that work to pay their wages. They do not fill out time sheets. They are not professionally regulated. They didn’t spend years at law school. If you want to be rewarded as a lawyer, become one. Until then, enjoy the chocolates. 

Anonymous 02 June 23 10:37

Work in marketing and want to be the most important person in your organisation?

Go and work in a Marketing Agency. 

Added bonus: you can look down on your in-house legal team and decry them as a cost-centre all day long.

Anon 02 June 23 10:58

Wow the level of greed. When will enough be enough…. Just think your secretary or bd/project manager/paralegal would be over the moon if you gifted them your 250 voucher as a thank you! But how many will or have even thought about doing that? 

Djed 02 June 23 11:21

Perhaps if BD and PAs put in half the work time that fee earners do, they would be deserving of a voucher.

Human 02 June 23 11:23

Salary should reflect commercial market value and some people earn more than others.


Perks are not salary. They are gestures. They are intended to bind a team together. And that clearly hasn't happened.


This wasn't good business.

Job hunting 02 June 23 12:27

@Fee Earner 02 June 23 10:35 


Wow, I'd love to be your BD support - I wouldn't even need the chocolates, just a daily pep talk along the lines of the comment above would do the trick! You sound delightful.

Anonymous 02 June 23 12:28

Distasteful behaviour from management.  Law firms enjoy the divide.  Very disappointing with the cost of living crisis.  This kind gesture should be across the board.  Lawyers are compensated in their salaries and bonuses. 

ScumFeeEater 02 June 23 12:52

Ah yes, those filthy rotten begging fee eaters that support lawyers to do their jobs should be so grateful they’re even paid at all. How dare they want a voucher? Imagine showing gratitude to people who help you do your job.

Anonymous 02 June 23 12:54

"Very disappointing with the cost of living crisis."

If you work in BD at Clifford Chance then you don't have a cost of living crisis.

You're a highly paid professional who can afford a good lifestyle even in London. You don't get to hijack a genuine cost of living issue that is currently impacting people in low paying jobs to whine that you didn't get a free dinner.

Not being paid as generously as one of the UK's best remunerated lawyers =/= Victim Status.

BS 02 June 23 13:16

As a business services person myself, I don’t see the issue here. Nice gesture by the firm actually as I see how hard the fee-earners at my particular firm work, often eating dinner alone at their desks…

Continental Europe 02 June 23 13:37

PAs in big law firms are paid around 45-60k EUR in Germany. Some of them don’t have Abitur (the equivalent of A levels). 

They are paid more than veterinarians, who in addition to highest grade A levels had ten years of uni that are harder than the equivalent for human medicine.  

German lawyers outside big firms are paid around the same as PAs in big law. Young judges a tiny bit more than PAs. In Germany you can become a judge right after the bar exam (and the grades requirement is the same as for entering big law). 

Something is out of kilter in our profession. 
I am saying this as an equity partner in a big US firm. 

Frankly, if I had the liberty I would rather hire a lawyer or veterinarian who would get 38h of PA work done in around 10h per week (which is realistic). And spend the rest of the week working pro bono or in a vet clinic or shelter. — I know my partners would hate me for it. 



Anonymous 02 June 23 13:47

What about the BD PAs? You try living on their salary in London and see how long you survive? Please sit down as you clearly do not have a clue. 

Eye roller 02 June 23 13:51

The £250 to spend for dinner with loved ones is just a gesture to say thank you for the countless evenings that lawyers spend having dinners in the office, hunched over their desks, generating fees.

There is no “us and them” here - the box of chocolates was a proportional gesture for what BD consider to be hard work. 

ScumFeeEater 02 June 23 14:09

“Not being paid as generously as one of the UK’s best remunerated lawyers” wasn’t the ask at all. It was merely highlighting that a generous gesture did not extend to BD staff.

also, not sure if you’re aware salaries have stagnated in the UK for over a decade, while house prices have soared. Good lifestyle in London? I don’t think so. Even a 100k base salary in London now is borderline  pittance

ScumFeeEater 02 June 23 14:19

"PAs in big law firms are paid around 45-60k EUR in Germany. Some of them don’t have Abitur (the equivalent of A levels)."

Simply not relevant here. Besides, a job worth doing is a job worth paying. 

Not to mention the cost of living in cities specifically London. So many firms want staff to be on the ground forgetting homes are 20-30 x salaries and travel is also a huge outgoing. 

This is related to support staff being treated like second class citizens when in reality, extending the voucher to BD would have been completely doable.

Percypig 02 June 23 14:35

Considering how most fee earners are singularly incapable of any kind of administrative functions (at least in a way that doesn't create an apocalyptic level of mess as a result), it would be interesting to see how long the 'BD staff don't bring value to a firm' argument would last if they ever decided to up sticks en masse.

Anonymous12 02 June 23 15:43

I really don't see the issue.  There is a "them and us" culture but we do very different roles and for the most part, very different hours.  I've been in Business Services for nearly 20 years but the truth is, legal teams work much much longer hours and therefore should get the pay and the perks.

Anonymous 02 June 23 15:46

"Even a 100k base salary in London now is borderline  pittance"

At this point you're just on a wind up.

Anonymous 02 June 23 16:47

Interesting comments. Some quite funny, some quite harsh.

Having done BD/Sales in a couple of other industries (corporates), I always find it peculiar that law firms place the ultimate burden of both operational delivery and sales on the same people. I understand that it's probably inherent in the partnership model, but it's still quite strange given that these are totally different skillsets. If law firms were to open up their work winning models to include true BD professionals, there are competitive gains to be made. 

To some of the rather snobby fee earners who have commented above: Yes, your time is what's billed, and you did spend a long time at law school or whatever. Neither of those things makes you good at sales though and most of you will really benefit from having good BD professionals helping you to bridge that skills gap, if only you'd let them.

To some of the rather indignant BD professionals who have commented above: yeah, the "us and them" stuff is frustrating, but for the most part that seems to be the way the legal world works. I'd recommend to any aspiring professional that you do your time in law, then move industries to construction or the like where BD is (and is regarded as) something quite different. The breadth of experience will be beneficial to your career.

Anon 02 June 23 16:48

"There is no “us and them” here - the box of chocolates was a proportional gesture for what BD consider to be hard work." is exactly the "us and them" attitude.  Your salary compensates you for your work.  This is a perk, a gesture - one that would mean so much more to us than to you considering you make more than my annual salary as a bonus.

People are pissed off due to pay rises and bonuses because "it's against market value not inflation". I don't begrudge fee earners earning what they do, they do a job I can't do. What I find frustrating is that with the state of the world at the minute CC have the power to not make it so difficult for us but they have chosen to use that money authorising £400 champagne, £2k on fee earner only (not client in sight) piss ups every week and giving everyone £250 to go out with their families for dinner.

I don't want to be "rewarded like a lawyer" in my salary.  I just don't want to take what is essentially a pay cut so that you can be given "an extra" that you can already afford.

Some of these comments are painfully entitled.  Academic intelligence rather than emotional intelligence all round.

Human 02 June 23 17:05

Interesting to speculate on different support services' reaction:

Finance: thinks employee gifts are financially imprudent and meaningless anyway: would rather have the cash.

Marketing: runs off to RoF in a strop.

PAs: genuinely feels sorry for all the hours those 20 somethings on £150k and thinks they deserve it.

Paralegals: awestruck: motivated to continue the weeks plodding through four hundred boxes of dusty disclosure to the end of the rainbow, where one day they believe they will get a training contract and a £250 meal bonus

IT: eating out would conflict with gaming and pizza time. Would prefer to be paid in Steam vouchers.

Outsourced contract cleaners: more bothered with earning enough to actually pay the rent this month than eating out

Hardy haaa 02 June 23 20:50

To whichever underpaid law person who said that a six figure salary in London these days is a pittance..

We’re all looking at you thinking how out of touch with the rest of the world you must be.. 

Spanky Wnham 03 June 23 09:40

This is what happens when you tell everyone they are equal. Anyway what about the cleaners hope they got more than empty boxes of chocolates?

Anonymous 03 June 23 23:05

Best comment goes to “Some of these comments are painfully entitled.  Academic intelligence rather than emotional intelligence all round”.

Amen 🙏🏽 

Office drone 04 June 23 20:53

I agree with comments noting that gifts are meant to be nice gestures to boost morale and foster team cohesion, create an "esprit de corps", if you will.

The financial value somebody brings to the firm is expressed in their salary and bonuses and in private practice, it's the fee-earners generating the income. The BD and support staff are employed to assist the fee-earners to do the best job possible and take care of all the "non-law related" background work to free the fee-earners to up to... well, earn fees.

However, when it comes to gifts, a 250 meal voucher would mean so much more to the colleagues who are less well paid. It would feel more of a reward to them compared to very well paid CC lawyers, who can afford to drop 250 and more on a night out anyway. The response from most lawyers to the voucher was probably "Cheers, thanks, nice one, mate", while the support staff would have been more likely "Amazing, this is really great, what a treat!"

Personally I would have given the lawyers some nice chocolates and reminded them that their reward comes in all sorts of corporate perks + bonus + way-above-average salaries. The BD and support staff get the meal voucher.

Me 05 June 23 10:05

Those poor lawyers are starving after all with their minimum wages. They desperately need those vouchers. 

Everyone knows that BD only costs money anyway. 

BD parlour 05 June 23 11:03

uhm...i'm happy with my evenings and weekends rather than trade that in for a meal voucher. i understand i cant have a nice schedule AND all the best perks in a law firm without being a revenue generator. i thought that was the bargain we struck?

Mr Chance 05 June 23 17:37

BD’s reward is the ability to steal a salary for changing the font on a slide deck a couple of times a week.

Anonymous 05 June 23 22:50

Giving associates meal vouchers when you pay for their meals in the office when they are working late every night anyway, is just unnecessary. Dinner with family and friends you say? Thanks, let me leave my desk then. 

Associates should be perfectly happy with their salaries and bonuses, unless CC is lacking in that front?

ex law firm 07 June 23 08:30

Professional marketing or IT that have sat through years of eduction, degree, masters and CPD don't work for law firms. End of. Hence why most operations are devoid of any dynamic capability or real innovation.

Big city and provincial law firms are for privately educated mummy boys who think they understand market need, are a special breed and have smoking capabilities.

They don't and their respective markets know this.

Any client worth having takes these non-differentiated tards through endless rounds of beauty parade to weed out w&^%$s and drill down fees.

Thats how it is. Thats the dream lol. Enjoy it. Easier ways to make money.

Anonymous 07 June 23 13:48

"Any client worth having takes these non-differentiated tards through endless rounds of beauty parade to weed out w&^%$s and drill down fees.

Thats how it is. Thats the dream lol. Enjoy it. Easier ways to make money."


... and would you describe yourself as a bitter man, do you think?

Dubious 1 08 June 23 08:28

Quote " it's a hard to get these things right"

No, it really isnt.

Years back before the Americanisation of our working culture took charge, when HR was known by the more friendly term as "Personnel" and  Companys were run properly, bonuses and the like were the same right  across the board from cleaner to chairman.

Back then, "Personnel" worked for the employee rather than the its all smoke and mirrors hiding behind BS like "well being" 

Isnt it odd that all companys now bang on about diversity in the work place whilst seemingly forgetting the basics.

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