Irwin Mitchell has axed at least a dozen partners in a stealth cull.

Management's clear-out was coordinated. It issued compulsory retirement notices on all 12 at the same time, according to a source. Spread across several of IM's offices, all the partners are understood to be in their 40s and 50s.

In Southampton, two partners were given their marching orders, leaving the office with no corporate, commercial or employment partners, one litigation partner, 17 property lawyers and two floors of personal injury lawyers. 

A source told RollOnFriday the victims were all fixed share partners, and as a result would not be able to rely on employment rights to appeal the decision. "Nobody could see it coming", said an insider. "It's not based on performance and defies logic. They are all in a state of shock". The notices are understood to require the partners to work six months before leaving the firm.


The IM operations room mid-cull.

"Following a review of the future needs of our business a very small number of Partners from across our offices will be leaving Irwin Mitchell", confirmed a spokesperson for the firm. "Whilst these decisions are always difficult, it is an important part of our plan for continued profitable growth. We can’t comment further while discussions are ongoing."

According to a source, the partners were all lawyers from legacy Thomas Eggar, the firm Irwin Mitchell swallowed in 2016. An IM spokesman denied all the partners were ex-Eggs, although post-merger issues were evident in Firm of the Year 2019 responses for last year's Golden Turd. "Those of us from the Thomas Eggar merger are gradually humanising the personal injury elves from traditional IM", joked a partner, who has possibly now been sacked.

Tip Off ROF


The IM enigma 10 May 19 07:24

The problem isn’t with the partners doing commercial work, it lies with the PI elves wanting to sue every client the commercial teams have.  IM wastes time and oodles of cash trying to turn itself into something it can never be and doesn’t really want to be.  Stick to what you are good at - PI and volume work undertaken by paralegals. 

IM 10 May 19 08:15

This reflects extremely badly on IM. Shame on the board for turfing good people out like this. I have no words for the callous cut throat nature of what has been done. Just really goes to show the type of culture that this firm is becoming under the exec and department heads. I predict this type of culture will have an impact on IM’s ability to attract and retain talent

Anonymous 10 May 19 08:47

Unfortunately this has a chilling effect - especially on London.  The Pritchard Englefield side of TE was at least commercial and had an international reach - and there's only one partner from that side left. IM feels like Gulliver - all that potential tied down by all the PI monkeys in the provincial offices (except this time he's not getting up again). All the attempts to make our outward-facing side look more commercial are f*cked from the start. Our recent lateral hires are probably getting squeaky-bum time, but then, they eat disappointment for breakfast anyway...

One who escaped 10 May 19 08:58

IM showing it’s true colours ... the clan of northern white men who control it saving their own skins before they’re made to look bad.

Anon 10 May 19 09:25

Any suggestion that it wasn’t based on performance are ludicrous. Why would any law firm turf out profitable partners.

I’d question the effectiveness of an exec that allowed non-profitable partners to stay.

The reason there’s so many at once will be because it’s been too long coming and people are starting to wake up.


ShootyMcShootyface 10 May 19 09:35

I have no doubt that this will have the intended consequence and massively improve the fortunes of IM.

After all, they have an impressive, nay, unassailable track record of making sensible decisions.


One who escaped: Other than scoring you some decent virtue points, what relevance is their skin colour, please? 

Anonymagic 10 May 19 10:03

How could it not be based on performance? I can hardly believe this to be true since a commercial law firm would never axe any profit-making departments.

Yes, this might not be nice, but it is inevitably part of a wider plan to make the firm more profitable. I am not advocating for it, I am just trying to cull the comments suggesting the motivations behind this measure were purely personal and/or illogical from a commercial perspective.

Beme 10 May 19 10:42

Too many partners that are too expensive not bringing in enough income. No other industry would tolerate it so why should a law firm.

Anon-y-mous 10 May 19 11:23

Those suggesting IM are in the wrong and/or it’s not fair illustrate what’s wrong with the legal industry.

Too many self-obsessed egomaniacs who think their brains are a divine gift and that they therefore deserve to be paid inordinate sums, despite most barely having a jot of commercial sensibility between them.

Anonymous 10 May 19 13:30

Well 11.23, if the Hurty Dozen really were abject commercial liabilities, doesn't that raise a question about why they were allowed to carry on until this morning?  Do you not question the manner in which this appears to have happened?  Or why the axe has dropped on all twelve right at this moment?  It certainly doesn't smack of a well-managed firm.  I accept though that if you've greased your way up to a corner pie in Sheffield, you will not be minded to agree.

Anon 10 May 19 14:00

To those saying silly things about "who would axe profitable partners" you need to sharpen your thinking. Profits are great, but what really pads a fat-cat equity partner's pay-packet is not having to share.  Why do you think salaried partners became the norm, when 20 years ago they didn't exist?  These people will be replaced by non-partners/lower paid salaried partners, the work will still get done, the profits will still come in, and a handful of people will be quids-in.  Making money out of the law used to be about practicing law.  Now its about exploitation and throwing the easily expendable under a bus. 

Arachnae 10 May 19 15:25

Beme, no other industry would sack what are effectively employees without right to due process or redundancy compensation.

Anon 10 May 19 17:34

I can absolutely confirm that axing decisions were not based profitability. The loss of a great female BME partner in the Gatwick office to be replaced by a white middle class male partner whose figures were nowhere near that of the axed partner is very telling.....shame on you IM.

Anon 10 May 19 18:02

Anon @ 14:00, depends if we’re are talking unprofitable partners, or barely profitable partners.

Suspect the former.

Anon 10 May 19 21:28

I am an EP in a central London practice. The BME partner referred to above at the Gatwick office is highly respected by all of us who have had the pleasure to work with her. She is anything but unprofitable. Shocking that a firm of this size is literally throwing people of this calibre onto the scrap heap without any legal recourse. I hope the industry is unforgiving of this callous behaviour.

Anon 13 May 19 09:59

ROF why won’t you publish my comments? The #metoo things are pertinent to this story. Why do you think their Director of HR has disappeared? Partners have disappeared without HR input, a decision made by the top alone. 

Great advert For IM 15 May 19 07:11

At a time when IM is at the back of the queue when it comes to recruiting quality people they do something like this.  The perpetually failing management team with its propensity to promote ill equipped laughing stock inadequates in its business services division to manage intelligent proven operators should remove themselves and recognise that they do not have what it takes.  The problem comes from the power base of Sheffield and the inability to listen and act or act quickly enough in response to disastrous appointments.  The damage is done, the reputation is shot and IM will remain at the back of the queue for at least a decade. 


Anon 15 May 19 21:55

It’s probably too late for many in the southern offices but...don’t leave it too much longer... get out now when you can do so at a time of your choosing! There are plenty of decent firms around Southampton, Crawley, Newbury and Chichester who do not treat people like this  

Within a week of announcing the promotion of several ex TE 30 somethings to the IM partnership comes the news of this 12 partner cull, some of whom have been partners for just a few years. Think about it... unless you have personal resources to draw on if it goes wrong when you are climbing the career ladder being a salaried partner is far better than the IM fixed share equity model that the TE salaried partners were forced to switch to or be demoted. You may get dangled a car leasing scheme and a measly pay rise but at any moment you can issued with a compulsory retirement notice.

The TE equity partners who sold their soul for a once in a lifetime quick buck were always sorted but the rest of you are sitting ducks.

Anon 16 May 19 23:05

Lionss led by donkeys. Well okay, maybe not lions, but in the main they were decent sorts. There are some pretty accurate summaries above. In the real world some management turkeys will preserve their 'executive' positions for another 2-3 years on the back of this, no doubt peddling their PowerPoint presentations around the regional offices like the 19th century snake oil salesman that they are (who will come to your leaving do?..). The sadness being that real people that have kids and have lost their jobs for being pretty okay at what they do. Pretty appalling 

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