"Only £48k and just 50% chance of a bonus, but still they carry on - God bless 'em, heroes every one!"
Baker McKenzie has expressed its gratitude to its lawyers and defended its bonus scheme following grumbles that junior lawyers have been overlooked.
A source purporting to comprise several "sad" and "exhausted" lawyers at the firm said that third seat trainees were kept on a first year salary of £48,000 as a result of Covid. They conceded that was "understandable", but said the news was delivered in a "short, generic email" containing "no thanks for their hard work, no offer to discuss how this might impact them financially".
Bakers subsequently gave the go ahead for trainee bonuses, but told them that in line with the revised bonus policy it had announced the year before, only 50% of them would receive them. The aggrieved lawyers said the cut-off "made no sense and didn't add up". People "with seat ratings of 5/5" did not get bonuses, nor those "clocking 250 billables a month", they claimed.
A Bakers spokesperson said, "Our approach to bonus awards is rigorous, fair and reflects our high performing culture". He said it took into account individual performance, productivity and overall contribution during the financial year. "These bonuses form part of our pay packages, which are highly competitive and in line with the London legal market."
The group complained as well that it was unfair that NQs had seen their salary reduced and sign on bonuses scrapped, while in the US, "after a fairly hefty redundancy cull", the firm had announced bonuses for associates starting at $15,000.
However, another source at the firm noted to RollOnFriday that while the London office had seen cash reductions, there had also been no Covid redundancies, unlike in the US.
A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie told RollOnFriday that the firm's priority "since the beginning" of the coronavirus crisis "has been and continues to be focused on safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our people and preserving jobs".
Having deferred bonus decisions until the economic environment became clearer, "we were pleased to proceed with bonus awards for London employees last month", he said, which included trainees and NQs.
Making an allegation that surely applies to other large firms, the group grumbled that partners had been "flaunting" their ability to "escape to the west wing for some time out" and "showing off their potential country house buys (at £4.5mil)", while "most of us work from home in garden-less flats (still extortionately priced)".
Stretching across the divide, Bakers commented that, "As a result of the pandemic, this year has been exceptionally challenging for all of our people. We know that everyone has worked incredibly hard and we are extremely grateful for their contribution.”
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