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'Yes, my fee-earners, yes.'


All staff at Squire Patton Boggs will be required to come in to the office on Thursdays after management announced it was tightening up its flexible working policy.

Jonathan Jones, SPB's European Managing Partner, unveiled 'all-in Thursdays' as he spoke to staff about their new working arrangements this week.

The firm's dose of enforced IRL working will be super-charged thanks to management's aim for part-time employees who don't normally work on Thursdays to swap their day off so that they, too, can see what the office looks like when it's full. 

A source told RollOnFriday that Jones "didn’t say why this draconian change had been introduced but did say it was mandatory and would be strictly monitored". 

A spokesperson for SPB told RollOnFriday, "Our people have expressed that they enjoy being together and appreciate the benefits that come from in-office collaboration, supervision and mentoring. Taking this all into consideration, we have decided to institute an ‘all-in’ day every Thursday, which we understand works for a majority of people". 

He added that any change to pre-existing working arrangements "would be subject to discussion with that individual’s manager to assure that person’s needs are met".

A lawyer at the firm alleged that when someone from the Birmingham office asked Jones if SPB was as competitive as firms which did not require employees to come into the office at all, Jones told the WFH-loving oik to "go and work for one of those firms instead then". SPB said the quote attributed to Jones was both inaccurate and out-of-context, but declined to explain how.

A source called 'all-in Thursday' an "absolute outrage", adding that they were "really shocked at this tightening of the so-called flexible working policy - hardly flexible now if you are forcing everyone into the office no matter what". 

Although plenty of lawyers insist they are at least as efficient at home as at work, and that their firms lose nothing if they don't come in, some Managing Partners have told RollOnFriday that productivity has fallen significantly as a result of WFH. They claim they need associates under one roof, and not just so they rebuild the bonds between them - they also want lawyers to start earning more to justify the massive pay rises which firms handed out to keep hold of them.

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Comments

Anon 14 October 22 07:27

Honestly it’s a really crap firm with crap people and a crap culture. Anyone who is good realises their mistake in joining and leaves asap. Everyone I know who works there or has left only has horrible things to say. I think they used to (or still do) force their trainees to do a basically unpaid 6 month client secondment before starting their training contracts.

Too obvious 14 October 22 07:59

Would it have just been too obvious to have something a little more palatable along the lines of "everyone must come in on average 60%" of the time but we'll leave the finer details up to each department?

sxwhcl125 14 October 22 08:06

What an outrage. Imagine asking someone to turn up for work. Oh, the humanity.

Tinpot Knight 14 October 22 08:14

Just got the news yesterday from a CSD that Knights are going for 5 days in the office. Ffs Dave, this isn’t going to save you at half year end or get the investors onside. Why therefore, alienate the people that are left? If you’re not paying top dollar, there’s no benefits or bonuses and no flexible or agile working, what do you think the draw is? 
 

 

Janet 14 October 22 08:26

I hope everyone does go and "work for those other companies then" and "en masse"! The idea that people are somehow "skiving" because they're saving about 3 hours in commuting by working from home. Most people log on earlier & work later, but can still put the washing on instead of chatting to colleagues whilst making a brew! People are different and what works for some people doesn't work for others, but trusting your employees to make the right decision for them is key. 

Mark 14 October 22 08:51

I am a firm believer in flexible working, both as an employee and an employer.  Why is it unreasonable to get everyone together once a week?  That still leaves four days of flexibility.  Rather balanced in my view.

John 14 October 22 08:51

Guess SPB is not hot-desking as this creates a peak capacity requirement and accommodation cost. Long term might add 20% to accommodation budget.  
 

Better to have by-team “in days”

Anonymous 14 October 22 08:58

Mark at 08.51 - I think it's probably mandating it has to be a Thursday, rather than the principle of it at all. For example, my bunch suggest that a minimum of one day a week in the office is preferable, but leave it up to the team and the individual to arrange when that best works for them. Some come in every day, some do T/W/T, some just in on Tues, some don't come in at all. Provided the work gets done, I don't think anyone is that fussed.

Ex-Toilet Lawyer 14 October 22 09:03

In my experience, this firm is better than its competitors because no one questions your motivations for leaving at lateral interview. Only your motivations for joining. “Everyone makes mistakes” is the answer to that which will get a solemn nod of agreement.

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:18

People work more productively from home. Kill motivation and productivity, and them your busines, by making your staff do the misery of the commute.

Anonymous 14 October 22 09:19

They turn up for work every day, sxwhcl125. Just not always at the office.

anon 14 October 22 09:49

It also seems like a bit strange idea from an office space perspective.  They will have to keep all their existing floorspace to cater for one day per week.  Or will the policy change as each lease comes to an end?

Anonymous 14 October 22 10:17

"People work more productively from home."

Which is of course why the so-called Magic Circle ceased to exist just over a decade ago, having been superseded by a rising pack of competitors who didn't even have physical offices because what would be the point?

Also why stockbroking has been exclusively performed from sheds, garages and bathrooms since the mid-nineties.

All the economic evidence is clear, letting your employees hang around at home in their pants (and giving them everything else they ask for, whatever it is) is absolutely the best way to run a profitable business.

Pwopa naughy 14 October 22 10:24

Provincial bucketshop no one cares about.

big smoke 14 October 22 11:43

My shop does a similar thing.  Everyone required to come in at least one day a week (the same day).  They didn't go as far as saying people need to swap their non-working days. If you need to be at home on the mandatory day, you ask for permission (much like you did before the pandemic). 

Honestly, I think it is a good idea.  You get flexibility for the rest of the week and, the day you go in, people are actually there so you get to see people and catch up.  Having it as the same day firm-wide encourages you to organise fewer teams calls for the day and be sociable.  

It's better than someone monitoring your attendance at a set percentage, but nobody ever being there when you decide to go in to hit the attendance target.  In such circumstances, you end up being on teams calls all day and then feeling the trip in was pointless.  

Good on them 14 October 22 12:09

I wish my firm would do this. It's so difficult to properly connect with colleagues. A day or ideally two when everyone is in the office would be perfect for me. 

Anon 14 October 22 12:26

It's not outrageous, save for part time folks who don't work Thursdays. In principle it's good to have one day when the whole team will be in.

Anonymous 14 October 22 12:43

Whole team?, yes. Whole firm? Complete overkill. 

Anonymous 14 October 22 13:11

A spokesperson for SPB told RollOnFriday, "Our people have expressed that they enjoy being together and appreciate the benefits that come from in-office collaboration, supervision and mentoring. Taking this all into consideration, we have decided to institute an ‘all-in’ day every Thursday, which we understand works for a majority of people".

If that were true they wouldn't need to mandate it.
What is it with these jobsworth managers needing people in the office to make themselves feel important?

About time 14 October 22 14:28

Jacob Rees Mogg was right all along.

Sitting at home in your pyjamas, clocking off early and wingeing about getting on a train isnt going to save the uk economy.

get back to work and reality people, the party is over.

 

 

Anonymous 14 October 22 15:35

I was at said meeting and can confirm that Jones did in fact make that comment!

FU2 14 October 22 16:00

Poor office pencil pushers having to go back to work? Oh dear, how sad never mind. What about the millions that have never had the option to loaf about at home? Can't stand that Moggy but he is bang on the button there with that comment. 

WFH Fridays 14 October 22 19:32

I didn't do any work today.  Did 11 hours chargeable yesterday and split it across both days.

Remembrance 14 October 22 20:46

I left the firm at 3PQE for a US firm and became partner some years later at another US firm. I keep in touch with my ex colleagues at the firm, not because I like them, but because no matter hard I was beasted at my US sweatshop (one of the most unpleasant US firms in the city), no matter how much bullsh1t I would put up with, I would look at them and their terrible lives and feel much better about myself. SPB truly was and is a shocking place. 

Anon 14 October 22 21:01

These comments are hilarious, from people that don't work there.

IMO the firm actually has a great culture and great people. No they don't make trainees to an unpaid 6 month secondment - what on earth! What is a "basically unpaid secondment" anyway??

Most people would suggest that 1 mandated day out of 5 is quite reasonable... but I guess that is subjective? They did a survey and asked for everyone's opinion and 1 day all in came out on top - no doubt those you didn't respond to the survey are the ones wining.  ALSO, most firms are insisting on 3 days - I'd say they're ahead of the curve here.

No they won't be hot-desking or reducing office space.

SecularJurist 14 October 22 22:33

Do the Yanks at SPB know the English slang term for 'Boggs'?

Messi 15 October 22 07:34

Those wanting to go in the office are loners with no mates. They want the “office banter”. There is no banter in law firms, it’s full of geeks who think having 3 pints on a Tuesday night is wild. People work at home to see their families and make life easier. Firms either need to accept that or watch everyone leave. 

Goethe Cash 15 October 22 09:44

Any business not offering at least 2 days WFH per week will eventually die.
 

Nothing against SPB by the way but who are they?

Anonymous 15 October 22 14:29

And what if people refuse?  Will they be sacked?  

Serving my notice in London 15 October 22 15:13

Shocking firm with some complete choppers at the helm (and as heads of certain departments). 
 

It’s sad as I genuinely like many of my colleagues and the office services staff are all top value 

Anon 16 October 22 09:26

It’s not a prison, the whiners are perfectly at liberty to move.

@21.01 16 October 22 12:29

I understand there is a minimum wage mandatory 3 month pre-training contract client secondment. I am aware of people who were forced to do this who had wanted to travel. I can also see it in the marketing materials. I would expect that you have some awareness of this, and your response I believe is intentionally misleading.

The endemic problems with the culture and its treatment of associates and staff has been well known in the market for years. It is a fact that the firm bleeds associates and trainees tend to leave asap. This is not a question, it’s just true that the firm has problems retaining anyone. 

Now you could have acknowledged this, and blamed uncompetitive salaries and the rise of US firms, but the uncomfortable truth is that everyone knows people at the firm, people who are trying to leave and people who have left, and no one speaks at all positively about it. 

Anon 18 October 22 10:14

Worst firm i ever worked at especially since their merger. 

Anonymous 18 October 22 11:54

I remember a time where we all used to come into the office five days a week, without complaint.

Anonymous 18 October 22 13:49

What on earth is the value of a pre-trainee to a business? Most first-seat trainees are enthusiastic but (through no fault of their own) completely clueless, and totally unready to be let loose on a client. Foisting people who are essentially law students upon your clients for three months doesn't sound like it's any good for anyone concerned; the client has to spend three months hand-holding, the trainee would probably much rather be spending his/her last summer of freedom on a beach somewhere, and the law firm will have to retrain the individual when they return to get rid of any bad in-house habits they might have picked up.

Cheshire Cat 20 October 22 09:26

If this firm were a brand of beans it would be Morrisons own, that you have to add your own ketchup and seasoning to because it’s utterly flavourless. 

Anonymous 20 October 22 09:28

I am all for flexible working but surely 1 single day a week where you are 'forced' to go into the office is not bad? I think it is a good idea and helps with the supervision of juniors.

Anonymous 20 October 22 18:23

I actually work here and I don’t think these comments are fair at all for the record. Yes, it is a very tight firm, and there are plenty of bullies and incompetents, but that’s the case at every firm, and I haven’t heard of any physical violence of sexual violence by any member of staff here, just the usual emotional breakdowns and depression nonsense. People need to toughen up and stop being pansies. As for being told to come in once a week, Jesus Christ. So what. You losers are such a load of jealous naysayers. Everyone is so soft and lightweight nowadays, you can’t actually turn up to work for a day. Actually most people here come in 4 days a week anyway so big deal. The commentators are clearly low level high street lawyers who couldn’t even work here if they tried.

Boulderdashed 20 October 22 22:07

Part time employees must also come in on a Thursday and must switch their non working days around? Cue 1,000 flex work requests asking to go back to WFH and 100 part time and sex discrimination claims. What an own goal. 

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