Kill list, or just a bill list?
Lawyers in Sidley’s London office have been hit with pay and promotion freezes.
48 hours before they expected to get their annual PQE-linked promotion and pay rise, a “double-digit” number of associates who had not recorded more than 1,000 hours of fee-earning work in the past year were told they weren't getting either.
Last week RollOnFriday reported on claims that Sidley had scrapped its WFH policy at the behest of a group of partners who recently came across from rival US firm Paul Weiss. Now sources have accused the newcomers of being responsible for getting lawyers' pay and promotions frozen as well.
It was “the first time it’s ever been a policy at Sidley” claimed a source, who was convinced that the orders “clearly came from the Paul Weiss folks”.
Pre-empting the query, 'How can any associate at a US firm hope even to remain employed on billing under 1,000 hours a year unless they call the Managing Partner ‘dad’?', the insider told ROF the lower hours were due to “market slowdown and some partners not generating enough”, and insisted “there's no performance or competence issues”.
A source close to management denied that the freeze was a new policy, saying that measures taken this year were the same as those taken in previous years.
"The arrival of the partners from Paul Weiss has not impacted on any of the firm's policies or procedures", they said.
The freeze has “resulted in a lot of unhappy associates” said a source, who claimed that their “reputation internally is ruined” after management sent around a group chart “which clearly indicated who had been held back”.
The insider also claimed that the new partners held a series of group drinks at which they pulled out a chart displaying the London office’s corporate group structure, and asked small groups of lawyers “to point out those associates and partners we thought weren't good enough to be in the new PW-style corporate team”.
There was “zero appreciation that these were our friends and colleagues, and that we knew they were doing this to every group”, they said.