22 partners have left Shoosmiths in the last 13 months, eleven of whom had occupied the role for less than three years.

Of the 11 who lasted less than three years, all but one were lateral hires. One U-turned out of Shoosmiths so quickly, spending under a year at the firm, that he hasn't bothered to mention his stint on his LinkedIn profile.* Within the last 12 months, an additional two partners have suffered the indignity of demotion from the partnership.

"Lateral hires tend to struggle to make the Shoosmiths brand attract decent work in the commercial sector", said a source, who suggested the problem was that "businesses most commonly encounter the firm in association with bulk debt-recovery work run by spotty teenagers in Reading". Ouch. 

Shoe people

Can you guess what the Shoe People are up to this week?

A spokesman for Shoosmiths said the rate of departure of partners was "not unusual" and "around half the average market turnover for law firm partners which runs at around 25%". The firm has more than replaced the losses. In April 2018 there were 187 Shoosmiths partners, whereas now there are 201. He said partners leave "for a variety of reasons".

“Lateral hires come with their own risks", he acknowledged. But "the industry average according to the Citibank Law Firm Leaders Survey averages around a 50% success rate, so again our stats compare favourably".

*Although the record is held by the Hill Dickinson lawyer who lasted less than 24 hours at his firm. Made up at Hill Dicks on 1 May 2018, he resigned the same day to set up his own firm.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 31 May 19 10:40

Who knew that lateral hires (wooed by more dollar) would be more inclined to move laterally (to get yet more dollar)? This whole thing was entirely unforeseeable.

Anonymous 31 May 19 11:46

I would love to know how many of these resignations relate to the Manchester office and its leadership over the past few years.........

Anonymous 31 May 19 11:56

In (and out of) my Shoos? Must be the people in the Leeds office disgusted by the toilet monster...

Anonymous 31 May 19 12:39

It’s well known that most “laterals”/upstarts bullshit their way into partnership at the Shoo. Totally inadequate DD gets carried out on them hence the toxic revolving door culture.

London Recruiter 31 May 19 12:44

I work in legal search in London. Recruiters have known for quite some time that Shoosmiths is a good place to send your "less-than-stellar" Partner candidates, indeed we just placed a tech duo there. We also consider Irwin Mitchell to be of similar ilk, because inevitably as a recruiter you'll come across struggling Partners who are paid £200k but only generate £350-£500k and are about to have a wage cut, and whilst the rest of the market declines to interview these Partners (for good reasons) you can bet your ass Shoosmiths and IM will invite them in, because they struggle to attract the same level of talent as competitors.

This places them in a catch 22 where they know they need to grow through laterals, but the lateral pool of talent put forward to them by recruiters and their inhouse rec team is below average and high risk (hence the partner losses and demotions).

In regards to Shoosmiths comments on their Partner Churn, no it is not common. Well actually yes it is common, but only amongst struggling firms. Well managed / profitable firms do not see Partner exits, and when they do its normally because junior Partners are underperforming, senior Partners are moving before they get retired, or excelling Partners are moving for more money / a better position. Any one of those scenarios is a valid reason to lose a Partner and it does in fact keep London Partnerships healthy, instead of keeping people around who don't want to be there and are impacting profits and opportunities for others.

Shoosmiths are in a tough spot, they need a serious rebrand and they need to do it fast. They also need to pair up with a serious recruitment firm willing to find realistic talent and not just the unhappy partners of London. All those Partner exits after 2/3 years incur substantial income losses for the Partnership - that end up negating increases in profits from hardworking lawyers trying to improve the firm. The current opinion, is that laterals need to stay for 5 years before their billings have a net contributory effect on firm profits. 

Anonymous 31 May 19 13:40

@London Recruiter - you're either an idiot who has just outed your own agency or wish you were working with Shoosmiths and are trying to sabotage another agency who already is. Either way, it doesn't smell nice.

Anonymous 31 May 19 15:03

I'm not sure it's fair to say that the Shoo only attracts sub-standard partner candidates.  Didn't they once hire a former big cheese real estate lawyer from BLP who ... oh, hang on...

Anon 31 May 19 15:20

I blame this story for putting this song in my head just before an important meeting: Sh Sh Sh Shooooo people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZvIMcwA6sE

Anonymous 31 May 19 16:13

This is nothing by comparison to the churn at IM.  The retired partner credits (registered at Companies House) is longer than the credits for the latest Star Wars movie!

Top tip - don’t move to either firm. 

Anon 31 May 19 18:30

Having been a partner at Shoosmiths until a year or so ago, I can confirm that some partners have left but, in the main, that is down to the firm quickly deciding they didn’t bring in enough fees as they promised. 

The firm is rapidly expanding so naturally is looking to make numerous lateral hires. I must admit I found it refreshing that my underperforming partner colleagues were swiftly asked to leave rather than sit there sucking off the teet of the firm whilst bringing in less than they take home. 

Other firms I have been at were too scared to cull underperforming partners because of perceived negativity in the market - like this article and some comments...

Anon 01 June 19 09:34

I left Shoosmiths a few years ago and there are many talented people still there who decided not to venture into large firms. Taking care of business is what the firm prides itself on. If that leads to a degree of churn so be it. 

David Crawford 01 June 19 19:25

If you have a bad apple it will ruin the rest if you don't do something about it. And you may lose good partners, and clients, plus run up claims sand complaints, along the way if you don't, too. Burying your head in the sands is not an option. More background needs to be investigated before this 'partner churn' is condemned out of hand.

Anonymous 02 June 19 10:49

Everyone knows Shoosmiths picks up partners right, left and centre. Like kids in a sweetshop.  A wreckless affair. 

Anonymous 02 June 19 18:20

Anon 18.30 - a friend of mine tried to recruit me for the London office. I ummed and ahhed but it just looked too small to be a viable short term proposition (although to be fair they talked about growing it). Bearing in mind the bitch-slap you just gave the laterals who took that risk, joined and for whom, for whatever reason, it didn't work out, I am feeling like I dodged a bullet there (and I reckon you just tipped the balance for anyone in two minds about joining).

Anonymous 02 June 19 20:12

Holy mother of f*ck. Did an (supposedly ex-?) Shoosmiths partner just accuse all of the laterals who didn't stay of being kicked out for underperforming? That's a brilliant recruitment tactic. "Come and work with us - if you leave, we'll give you a kicking and smear your reputation." Well, I don't know about you, but sounds to me like a great place to work.

Anonymous 02 June 19 20:15

Anon 1 Jun 9.34

There are a lot of talented City lawyers who wouldn't dream of working in the mediocre mid-tier nationals (or regionals like Shoosmiths).

Insider 02 June 19 21:48

same story at SPB, people running off for the life rafts left right and centre. Hardly any work going on, it’s a right sh*tshow

Anonymous 03 June 19 09:21

Anon 18.30 - big bitchslap there for Shoosmiths lateral hires. After the DD you do on a lateral, if it doesn't work out it should be an agreed parting of the ways. If anyone if in two minds as to whether to risk a career move to Shoosmiths, I think you just made that decision very easy....

Anonymous 03 June 19 09:31

Anon 18.30 - that's a big bitchslap for any laterals who have left Shoosmiths. One of my mates tried to recruit me there - I ummed and ahhed, but in the end I had my doubts about the viability of the London office, which is quite small and they would probably have relied on me to eat what I kill (although in fairness they did - and probably still do - have plans to expand it). Moving is always a risk and you never know whether all (or even most) of the work will come with you.  You want a firm that's interested in you for the long term.  If that's the way Shoosmiths regard people who don't manage to build a 4 x drawings in fees before 2 years is up, I think I dodged a bullet there and I suspect that anyone who is in two minds about joining will find that decisive.

Anon 04 June 19 07:30

it’s difficult for firms like Shoosmiths and IM and others - they want to be taken seriously and have ambition, but their brand isn’t strong enough to compete in the marketplace with better firms for the profitable work.   Yes, personal injury and debt recovery work they can do - but it doesn’t pay.  

Anonymous 04 June 19 14:33

Shoos are talking out of their shoohole. You absolutely do not get a 25% per year churn of partners on average except where a firm is in freefall like Halliwells, Dewey or KWM. Otherwise the average partner would only last 4 years. 

Anonymous 04 June 19 14:40

Just checked that Citi survey. It actually says average partner churn is 7.3% - 8.3% per annum. Shoos are churning at 12% p.a.

Anon 04 June 19 15:19

Having been a partner in Shoosmiths for a number of years (now left), I know how the culture of that firm has changed over the years. It no longer values team work and good conduct amongst colleagues especially at partner level. The back stabbing and conduct especially at partner level is awful and there seems to be no incentive for partners and other fee earners to introduce clients to other areas of law. The clients then become "my" clients rather than the firms which drives protectionism leading to disharmony and mistrust. I had many happy years there but when I left I felt the massive relief of moving on which really shows just how unhappy I was at the end. 

DINGO WARRIOR 04 June 19 20:05

WOW --- Another UK firm churning and burning... surprise, surprise.... Maybe just maybe its time to see the big world for what it is.... Realise that unless you are doing international work... the London Dream of earning silly money is .... well... just a dream.. Shoosmiths is not a bad firm, but maybe this is just their ambition being beyond their capabilities.. As far as the lower amount of work for these firms and Partners... Consider the reality of the virtual law firm, they have taken a massive chunk of work that was referred from the bigger firms, down to the smaller. All in the name of GREED... 

God Bless the stupid and naive that run firms that can not see that they are competitors and in a fight for survival... 

Now the Dingo has spoken.. may you all have a blessed day lol

Anonymous 04 June 19 22:49

Anon 31 May 18.30 - Your description of Shoosmiths allegedly managing out underperforming lateral hires does not ring true to me at all and I am also a former Shoosmiths' partner. One of the key things which irritated me was, in fact, the number of partners with £0 per annum billing targets who took full drawings but didn't win work, had the people and management skills of a donkey and generally fu**ed about writing meaningless plans rather than doing anything useful. 

Anonymous 05 June 19 11:39

Don’t agree with the notion that Shoos are removing low performing partners. Some of the ‘highest’ levelled partners are the worst performing. They get a tiny target and still manage to miss it. 

Graham 05 June 19 17:52

Re Anon 4/6/19 at 22:49 and your comment that high level Partners "generally fu**ed about writing meaningless plans rather than doing anything useful."

I think you'll find that those plans are vital to assist Shoosmiths in:-

1. the delivery of sustainable year on year managed growth in diverse sectors and in accordance with its core values;

2. defining the roadmap of its exciting ambition to be the leading UK law firm, famous for its client experience; and

3. errr, hang on, this is all meaningless guff! Aaah well, better keep churning it out and cross fingers that no-one cries "Emperor's new clothes" at the next appraisal.


Dingo Warrior's Ghost 06 June 19 17:50

Too much jibber not enough work being done... get back to work before I whip you all.. 


BILL BILL BILL.. GO out there unsupported and get some clients you pathetic losers...


Sounds like something of a 1980's movie.. whoops thats Shoosmiths

Anonymous 06 June 19 21:55

Agree with much of this, and I hope our new boss Boss takes heed. It's all about "my clients" and bickering about who is "client relationship partner" and can take credit for the clients someone else introduced years ago and a management unwilling to change that culture.  There's no incentive to work for "someone else's client" because it doesn't count as your referral and considerable risk in sharing relationships, and losing the connection to other parts of the client's business so that you cease to be the client relationship partner. A toxic brew - and you can see the result: lots of clients, for each of whom we do a small amount of work, very little cross-fertilisation, very little collaboration and lots of Walter Mitty types in positions of apparent authority with grand titles rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.  We could have had our excellent CFO as the CEO, but regrettably - as in much of the country - politics beats economics. Famous for our client experience indeed (you will note the absence of any adjective there...).

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