'Welcome to the office you're fired.'

JMW Solicitors has been accused of pursuing a ‘hire and fire’ culture, ex-employees of the northern firm have told ROF. 

Culture is one of the factors people are rating in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2024, but some staff were sufficiently exasperated by their experiences at the Manchester-led firm that they spoke to ROF directly. JMW disputed the accuracy of their accounts, but would not specify which elements were incorrect.

The sources, whom ROF is keeping anonymous, were all employed at JMW’s London office.

The office opened in 2019 and now houses around 160 people. Its youth and rapid growth meant churn wasn’t as obvious as it might be in a more established office, said one of the ex-employees.

“The thing that everyone tells you at JMW is, ‘You’re never new for long’. There’s always someone else coming in the next week and the week after."

“You’re expecting that high staff turnover”, they said.

But even to junior lawyers it felt odd, said sources. Two described how a colleague was told to pack up and leave within a day of returning after a short absence.

That lawyer had worked at JMW for under two years so had not accrued the right to bring a claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal - a feature common to other employees who were terminated, according to insiders.

On another occasion a lawyer who was employed for less than a year was dismissed after returning from emergency leave, according to a source.

“There is such a level of anxiety in the firm. People don’t know when other staff are going to disappear”, said one ex-employee. There was even nervousness around disclosing illness or injury at work in case it gave the firm an opening to fire them, they claimed.

“That level of anxiety is hard to explain, where you walk into a room and you don’t know if your position is secure”, said the insider.

Partners were not immune, according to sources. One, who launched and led the London office, "was amazing”, said an ex-employee. “He truly was the London office…he made such an effort to know everyone”.

But this Spring, “We all got an email from the MP in Manchester with just his name as a subject and it basically said, ‘Effective immediately [he] has left over a difference of opinion’ - and that we weren’t to contact him”.

“Within about ten minutes a partner from each department contacted their teams over Zoom or in person to say, ‘it is very common for people in senior leadership positions to just drop away’.”

“Everyone was like, ‘What the fuck?’ We couldn’t believe it. He didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye”.

Staff suspected their boss had clashed with head office over its desire to publish lawyers' time recordings and billings, measures which a source said were subsequently implemented. The former JMW partner did not respond to a request for comment.

Another lawyer told ROF that she was unable to comment on the circumstances of her departure, or anything else, because of the terms of a settlement agreement. 

JMW said in a statement, “Our people and our clients are at the forefront of everything we do. Regrettably, it is sometimes necessary for us to part ways with an individual, and we always seek to do so in a way which aligns with the actions of a reasonable and responsible employer. To protect employees past and present we do not comment on individual circumstances”.

JMW’s partner in charge of PR attempted to scare ROF off publication by stating that the account of its former employees "contains factually inaccurate and untrue information. We advise that Roll on Friday [sic] does not publish an article that contains misinformation".

However, when asked to clarify what was inaccurate, he did not respond.


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Anon 10 November 23 09:20

I once had them on the other side and the partner was the biggest **** I have ever come across. He took delight in calling to berate and belittle the young female NQ on our team for no practical reason. It became apparent fairly quickly to everyone involved that he was compensating for a complete lack of intellect. I got the impression his own juniors were deeply embarrassed.

Spotty Lizard 10 November 23 09:33

I have come across JMW several times over the last few years on various matters, and have invariably been left with a horribly bad impression of the firm and a desire to report the fee-earners there to the SRA. It is really beginning to feel as though our profession is not being regulated at all, and firms like JMW are a symptom of that.

Anonymous 10 November 23 10:12

“Partner in charge of PR” - hahahaha. Works about as well as a PR agency trying to draft its own contracts.

Anonymous 10 November 23 10:25

Can confirm. Have inherited matters from JWM after they were binned by the client. Every single one a complete clusterintercourse in which I was baffled by the decision making of the original partner. All apparently running their case strategy by reference to a magic 8-ball.

Re: Anon 9:20 10 November 23 11:16

Glad you noted that the young NQ was female, as that really exacerbates things. Lucky you were there to defend her

Anon 10 November 23 15:12

We lost our biggest client to JMW. The client loved us but the powers that be at the client said they had to use JMW.....
...they came back to us 12 months later.

Trapdoor 10 November 23 16:41

Howard Kennedy has that same trapdoor. People just disappear and are never spoken of again. Scary. Everyone is wondering if they are next.

Devil's advocate 10 November 23 22:52

Plenty here to rip JMW for, for sure, but why are we giving them flak for using settlement agreements and garden leave? Every firm in the country does that.

Anonymous 11 November 23 19:17

I think the commentators have experienced the JMW partner known in the market as “yappy dog”.
Lots of noise, very little substance.

Anon 13 November 23 08:55

*Anon 10 November 23 09:20

It is as if you are describing my experience with a partner at that firm. The description of the behavior is identical save that the female he was ridiculing was a brilliant partner of mine.
That he did it at all was bad enough but the fact that he saw fit to do so behind her back on a Teams call with our client was despicable.
We saw through him early on in the transaction - intellectually challenged and dim as a burnt-out light bulb.

I Predict a Riot 13 November 23 11:54

Anon at 19:17! Funny because I think I know exactly which partner you're referring to 'cos I described him as a yappy dog the time I had him on the other side!!!

Anon 14 November 23 19:51

"Not to contact them"

You wot? This smells like an attempt to mislead people by not letting independently minded professional people speak about, you know, the facts. More fitting for a mobile phone shop than any law firm.

"Hand on shoulder luvvie"

There's the problem there. Are people supposed to be touching people up like that? Looks like a lawsuit in the makings.

Anon 14 November 23 20:02

"and that we weren’t to contact him”.

Nothing says credibility more than preventing independent minded professional people from speaking with each other about, you know, facts.

“hand on shoulder’

Seems like a lawsuit in the making.

Arachnae 16 November 23 15:14

Trapdoor, interesting to hear that Howard Kennedy are still like that 10 years after I was there. Then, senior people including an equity partner were literally marched off the premises.

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