covid clap

"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.”

Score your firm in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021 Survey.

Tip Off ROF


The Bean Counter 20 November 20 09:43

"People "with seat ratings  of 5/5" did not get bonuses, nor those "clocking 250 billables a month", they claimed."

Anyone who claims to be consistently billing 250 hours a month is either lying or padding their time sheets.

Anon 20 November 20 09:50

I wish my boss had a conversation with me about the negative financial implications on me of not having a pay rise...  I'd suggest that if your future financial security relies on you getting a pay rise you have probably managed your finances poorly and perhaps should take some responsibility for yourself.  After all - "why haven't you paid your rent" - "I didn't get a pay rise this year" has somewhat of a "my dog ate my home work feel to it".

Anon 20 November 20 09:55

The trainees and juniors at BM are amongst some of the best paid in the city, working at a firm that has embraced flexible and home working and made no redundancies and not imposed any pay reductions and has paid reasonable bonuses in line with its policy.   

Hardly a news story and the trainees complaining should think about the plight of healthcare and other public sector workers who have done a lot more to earn a lot less   


Anon 20 November 20 10:12

Agree with 09:55.  

It is embarrassing really to see these well paid, self entitled, solipsistic  juniors whine from their safe-at-home computer screens about their lack of bonuses in these awful times with 50,000 dead and counting, millions out of work and entire sectors of the economy at risk of obliteration.   To be earning around £50,000 as a trainee and then nearly  doubling that on qualification (when frankly they still know very little and have a hell of a lot of learning to do) immediately puts them in the top 1-2%  of the population in terms of pay on qualification at the age of 24/25 and on a par with MC firms in terms of NQ pay.    I should have thought that anyone intelligent and able enough to get a trainee or NQ position at a such a leading  firm might have the insight to realise the above, reflect on it,  and certainly the judgment not to go whinging to the legal press about it.  

Anon 20 November 20 10:24

Really?? I have watched with interest how Bakers dealt with the whole Covid situation, and compared with my place they are outstanding. They really seem like they have looked after their staff throughout all of this- think they were one of the first to get them working from home etc which is more than we got. Rather than whining and whinging why don't they think about those that have lost their jobs completely (my uncle for one) and were never fortunate enough in the first place to be able to afford rent in a major city.  Their complaint is childish and reeks of entitlement. Go bore the Daily Mail with your "sad face" story. 

Anonymous 20 November 20 10:27

Given the subhed is ‘break out your violin’, at least Rof’s view is clear.

Anon 20 November 20 10:28

A bonus and pay rise are good to receive but its a good lesson to learn that they aren't guaranteed.  As for flaunting the west wing .. don't you think they have worked hard and have earnt it?

Anon 20 November 20 10:33

Bakers have been brilliant during the whole pandemic - putting staff safety first (which hasn’t been the case everywhere), partners have taken the hit on drawings / pay so that staff have been unaffected, no redundancies due to Covid, no pay cuts, no furlough, transparent communications etc. and no pressure to return to the office plus an acceptance that going forwards more home working is likely to be routine.  Plus they have got a new office lined up.  

As already set out above, it was poor judgment - perhaps only from a handful of people - and reflects badly on these self focussed and immature individuals. .  

Anonymous 20 November 20 10:34

@10:12 That's the amazing thing isn't it?

Clearly all of the people involved in this incident are bright, as are about 90% of the people who work in City Law*; but then there are moments like these where you realise that the majority of the people around you are completely lacking in any self-awareness. Seemingly having no concept of life outside of their very narrow bubble and how incredibly privileged and uncommon their lives are, as if they were born in a suit in the firm's cafeteria and have never since thought to venture beyond the boundaries of Zone 3.

In any other year it might be forgivable - but how is anyone a big enough twerp to sit down at a computer in 2020 and to tap out an e-mail moaning that, despite already earning £50k in your early twenties, only 50% of you are getting bonuses on top of that this year?

Anyway, I'm sure that the people who go into Finance, Politics and the Media are all cut from a very different cloth; so there's no risk of that kind of myopic pillock screwing the whole country up for everyone else.


*Let's not kid ourselves that there isn't a very small minority of our colleagues who are a bit dim.

Old dusty codger 20 November 20 11:34

"clocking 250 billables a month" means an annual billable of 250*12=3000 hours. We have 365 days*24 hours = 8760 hours a year. So that's 34.2% of his/her whole year dedicated to billables.

He/she deserves a bonus."

Heh, that's called padding the ol' timesheet though son.

Anonymous 20 November 20 11:48

@StevenSpielberg I can guarantee you that "250 billables a month" is an exaggeration

Anonymous 20 November 20 12:13

In fairness, 250 billable units isn’t that hard.  I’m pretty sure I could manage that most weeks.

busy 20 November 20 13:44

It is entirely possible to legitimately bill 250 hours a month - it is just not healthy or sustainable for more than a few months.

@busy 20 November 20 14:01

Yes, it is, but no trainee at BM is hitting 250 "billable" hours a month (as an insider)

Anonymous 20 November 20 15:06

I think we need more information about how the firm has done this year before passing judgement.  I’d entirely understand not receiving a bonus if the firm has done badly. But that simply hasn’t been the case for many US firms this year (not sure if BM are in this category or not). If the partners have had a good year, and junior have met the targets, why wouldn’t bonuses be preserved (goes for support staff too)... anything else would be very opportunistic by the partners. Now from the comments it sounds like BM have looked after their staff well and so I assume that’s not the case, but I am surprised at the negativity of the comments on here. Of course social inequality is a broader problem but it doesn’t demand associates and support staff receive nothing while partners do better than ever.

Anonymous 20 November 20 15:23

I'd be very surprised if every junior working at magic circle firms didn't clock 250 hours in at least one month per year. Otherwise, what are they all doing?! 

Mr Large 20 November 20 16:14

The concept of bonuses for trainees is a bit odd anyway. They tend not to be valuable to the firm (most time written off and resources expended on training) and bonuses are primarily used for retention purposes. Not like a trainee at a place like BM is in a position to make a lateral move mid-contract and whether they qualify there will depend on the NQ package on offer at that time.

Anon 20 November 20 19:38

Mr Large - trainees are an investment and an expensive one at that.  You’re not buying current ability but future potential and the firm needs a steady supply of NQs to fill the gaps and to be or profitable as they do the grunt work but are charged out at a decent rate and worked hard.  Some of the trainees are future partners or leaders and they’re the ones where the investment pays off big time as they bring millions in. 

Anonymous 20 November 20 22:56

The above is forgetting big firms can hire who they want, when they want. Very few trainees get partner at the same firm. Trainees are employed to do a certain job and they can be kept if they are good or they can be let go without any second thought.

Fake Partner 21 November 20 02:04

@The Bean Counter - Exactly. I might bill 250 hours a month if I am preparing for and attending a trial. But it would be rare to hit that number....well unless you are the Managing Partner at my firm who routinely bills 3000+ hours per year - but he's a fraud. 

Anonymous 21 November 20 09:31

While it’s in poor taste, the reasonableness of complaining does depend on how the firm is doing. Many people are suffering badly at the moment, but that isn’t a reason for a firm not to recognise the efforts of those people who still do have a job which is feeding them high volumes of work. 

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