Hooray, it's Santa Laws
The pandemic may have killed off this year's office parties, but it can't stop lovely law firms spreading seasonal cheer all over their staff.
At the top of the Christmas tree is a group of Osborne Clarke partners who have put Santa to shame, as far as their associates are concerned. "All fee-earners in the team bar one requested the full two weeks off for Christmas", an OC lawyer told the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021 Survey (which is open now, do take it below). A scheduling disaster bound to leave several lawyers disappointed. Except "the partners' response was that they would provide all cover for our matters for that period. We were blown away".
Other staff chimed in to say that not only had OC dropped pay by just 7% during the summer, it had started repaying it, "and we're getting the first chunk of that back in time for Christmas shopping". OC, they pointed out, also repaid the government its furlough cash. "This has felt like a good ship to be lashed to as we ride out the pandemic storms".
In the City, Macfarlanes has been dropping stocking fillers on staff like an indulgent parent, much to their delight. "Little bonuses here and there", said a business services employee. Macs "upped the £100 Christmas voucher gift to £150" due to cost savings on the Christmas party, and has now "given everyone in the firm a further £500 (on top of the £200 we were given in March) to improve our home working setup".
At RPC, "they've played an absolute blinder", said a senior solicitor. Gliding into Xmas with a warm feeling because agency staff had their salaries topped up to 100% by the firm and full of "the surprise hamper of tea/biscuits/chocs that arrived mid-lockdown", staff were given a second day's holiday to coincide with "the Christmas Covid Carousing period".
"'Bread and circuses', you may think", said an RPC solicitor, "but it shows that someone in management has taken the time to think about staff, and spent some money on them."
Burges Salmon has also granted everyone an extra day's holiday, but its star turn was pushing the envelope of remote Yuletide celebrations. The Burges Salmon virtual Christmas party came "complete with delivered cocktails, prosecco and an (actually rather nice) hamper", said a partner. "I'm slightly struggling today."
Covington & Burling also distributed Christmas hampers in lieu of a party, which was a "nice touch".
Other firms took a different route and embodied the 'funny' uncle, to mixed reviews. "No Christmas party this year (for obvious reasons)", said a junior solicitor at Charles Russell Speechlys, and "instead of offering us all some sort of alternative goody", CRS asked staff to "send them pictures of us being awesome".
"The usual extroverted keen beans will be awarded with prizes in some sort of peculiar virtual awards ceremony", said the lawyer, "and we are all supposed to pretend that's as good as getting drunk off our faces on Company booze."
At BLM, staff have been enjoying a virtual advent calendar, the first day of which was "an Elf Yourself of the exec board".
"I'm sure we'd all rather have that than any form of firm-sponsored team activities like wine or cheese tasting we've seen at other firms", said a BLM employee. "That said, the camaraderie within the team is a positive." Can't unwrap camaraderie, though.
"I did laugh at the e-mail we all got that said, 'we would like to send you a gift given we aren't having a Christmas party, but understand some of you won't want a gift given the pandemic, so can instead make a donation to charity'", said a lawyer at Clifford Chance.
"Obviously everyone was guilt tripped into saying 'give a gift to charity' (we are all massively well paid lawyers, why would we say we want some crap we don't need?). We then got a second e-mail basically begging us to take the gift..." Please, someone tell ROF what that gift was.
But wait. Maybe the debauched office party is not dead, after all. A cunning team at Addleshaw Goddard has been "considering whether to use the business exception to have a Christmas lunch", said a solicitor, "which would mean 30 people could gather round the same table inside instead of 6". Merry Christmask, one and all.
Did your firm gave you a PS5-level prezzie, or a Cyberpunk 2077 one? Let ROF know in the comments or write in.
In private practice? Rate your firm in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2021 Survey below.