Choc factory

A UK associate struggles on

Squire Patton Boggs has back-paid its US lawyers as compensation for salary cuts last year; but has yet to offer its UK lawyers the same deal.

SPB instigated 20% pay cuts from May to September last year. The firm subsequently back-paid its US associates in December for the 'lost' sums, meaning that they were effectively paid in full last year. But a disgruntled source told RollOnFriday that UK associates were still waiting for the firm to confirm it would treat them the same. 

A SPB spokesman said the firm made “true-up” payments to all its US associates in December last year, "in order to restore any compensation loss resulting from temporary austerity measures". 

The spokesman said that similar measures were being "evaluated" in the UK, and the firm was "committed" to making "true-up" payments for all UK staff "providing our year-end financial results support us doing so." The firm will make a decision at the end of April (the close of the UK fiscal year), and will only dish out any reimbursed payments in October after the accounts are signed.

There will also be an increase in targets, as SPB is hiking chargeable hour requirements from 1500 to 1600 hours. The firm's spokesman said this was "consistent with peer firms in the market."

Firms have taken a different approach on remuneration to staff, while the pandemic continues. Some have started to lift restrictions, others have remained cautious, while White & Case shrugged off Covid by issuing a huge pay rise for NQs.  Let us know what your firm is doing.


Tip Off ROF


Appalled 4PQE associate 22 January 21 12:38

Glad someone finally came through to drop this absolute howler of tight-fistedness currently happening at SPB. There was a collective gasp when [management person] tried to explain, contorting and stuttering, on a UK-wide video call just why is it necessary to wait until October (some ten months from now) to true up pay cuts incurred some 14 months ago.

Maybe it’s because there’s no money in the kitty and SPB is playing for time?

But maybe it’s just because [management person’s] a greedy tightwad, like the rest of the Northern mafia running this sorry, decrepit, bumbling Bronze medallion “international” firm.


Lolbraham Lincoln 22 January 21 12:42

"providing our year-end financial results support us doing so."

Translation: we are stalling for time and will eventually find a reason so that we don't have to pay out a single penny to you schmucks.  

Recent jumper 22 January 21 12:58

Sad state of affairs at a firm that had dropped some 15% of its headcount in London, including some heavyweight partners who won’t be getting replaced. Jump ship while you still can, this one’s gonna pop.

Frustrated Senior Associate 22 January 21 15:08

@Appalled 4PQE Associate - it seems there is plenty of money in the kitty. the firm did not use any of its banking facilities during the height of the pandemic, WIP is solid and we are hitting budget each month (an increased budget against that of last year, of course). It is just the usual tight-fistedness of management, the lack of communication and refusal to reward its hard working associates. Management said it is hiking the target hours to keep us in line with competitors but refuses to pay us in line with competitors. Squire Patton Boggs does not treat its employees well. No wonder the talent jumps ship to competitors. This delaying tactic re the true up is yet another blow and spit in our faces... Time to jump ship or do I wait until October?

Trainee 22 January 21 16:08

"will only dish out any reimbursed payments in October after the accounts are signed."

Is this standard practice in the UK, or just your usual management trickery? Anyone know?

The Grass is Greener 22 January 21 17:25

As someone who saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship years ago, I can wholeheartedly say get out while you can. Jam tomorrow but sh*t sandwich today is the creed.

Boe Jiden 22 January 21 18:00

Hilarious double-speak from this subpar provincial firm. Hiking up yearly target hours while holding back on what really isn’t that much money in the scheme of things: four months’ worth of 20% off monthly paycheck for most staff makes it less than one regular payroll-worth of cash. That’s a surefire sign to run for the hills.

Rainmakers from Leeds 22 January 21 20:28

There’s a few overweight partners, but definitely no heavyweight ones.

Mathematician 22 January 21 20:42

@ Boe Jiden 18:00

May to September = five months, so a full pay check.

Still no great reason not to pay out, given that other firms are making staff whole.


Another senior associate 22 January 21 23:26

Senior leadership at SPB are happy to cut pay, dropping platitudes like “we’re all in it together” and my personal favourite “it’s only fair that the partners bear the greatest burden” of the pay reductions, only to sweat the assets like mad and give them peanuts. Some teams have been going full tilt since August last year, with fee earners clocking 1,900-2,000 hours this year in spite of the pandemic, and still receive a collective shafting.

Give these tightwads an inch, and they’ll grab a foot.

Annoyed SPB associate 23 January 21 10:43

SPB needs to be extremely careful what it does in the coming weeks and months in terms of payrise to reflect new hours and true up payments. If they don't pay that true up in full then there will be swathes of departures. Most people here are pretty miserable and feel the management live on another planet in terms of their expectations versus the reward they offer. We are at least 20 to 30% behind most firms in terms of pay if you are benchmarking against 1600 hour firms. They are kidding themselves to suggest otherwise. They treat us like we are stupid at times and then wonder why so many people leave. As for the US management, that's just so bad it's not even worth talking about.  

Clairvoyant 23 January 21 14:27

@ Annoyed SPB Associate

Maybe they want swathes of departures. They’ll throw money at the individuals they want to keep, and forget about the rest.

Management here, as at other firms, must feel like rabbits caught in the headlights trying to get through this, but the worst part is the “One Firm” message that everyone spouts, even internally. How can they expect you to be continually motivated when a US bod has all of their salary, and the UK guys have no idea if they’ll get that month back.

And spare a thought for the support teams. Worked even harder because of people being furloughed, with no prospect of a pay review for two years! Wonder if they are going to be benchmarked as well? 

Anonymous 23 January 21 19:17

I'm more years qualified that I care to count and work in a large national and international firm.  In 2009 the firms hit the redundancy button as if it were going out of fashion.  This time around they have decided that "win" should be defined as avoiding too many redundancies. 

Equity partners, in good times, support the huge pay gap been the top of Associate and Partner by saying they adopt the risk and for that they should be rewarded.  For in dark times they will be the ones being paid nothing.

However, we have all seen that is not the case.  The Associate class has carried the risk by being paid 80% or having pay and bonus deferred.  Then they are asked to be generous when they are being paid what they contracted to be paid, but only when the Equity Partners have ensured that their pay has not gone down as they are starting to see as we enter Q4.

Annoyed SPB Associate 23 January 21 19:39

The firm can't afford to lose many more associates. Most teams are very short staffed. They just need to stop being so bloody tight, put their hands in their pockets and pay people properly. The management are utterly clueless when it comes to motivating and incentivising staff. It's a total joke. 

Legal Director 23 January 21 20:14

The partners at SPB are in it only for themselves, greedy and penny-pinching. Seeing an opportunity to slash costs, boot certain people out and increase PEP, they’ve taken the axe and hacked away across the firm. Dozens of secretaries and support staff got laid off, associates and partners vanished, and now management has the cheek to claim they’ve identified increasing profitability as a key metric for the firm. Meanwhile there’s non-performing deadwood in the partnership left right and centre.

Clueless grifters, the whole City laughs at you.

Leeds trainee 26 January 21 12:41

Why is it necessary to wait until October 2021 to repay salary cuts made in May 2020? Genuinely confused, anybody care to explain this to me?

Anon 26 January 21 23:47

Leeds trainee- Repayment is subject to the performance at year end. Accounts then have to be signed off by the auditors, all of which doesn't get finalised until October. I'm not saying it's right, but there is logic to it.

Anonymous SPB 28 January 21 16:54

Anon (23:47)

The firm knows the financial performance at the year-end. It’s know how much it’s received in fees and what it has paid out. The accruals etc make up a tiny amount compared to profit. Anyone can look at the llp’s accounts and see that. I strongly suspect they will be more profitable than last year. They have forced associates to reduce their salaries and they have milked the furlough scheme to ensure the taxpayer picks up the firm’s liabilities. 

I would bet my house that that associates, trainees and support staff will bear the biggest financial burden. The equity partners will never lose anything close to 20% and will likely exceed last years remuneration. Socialism for the most well off and rugged capitalism for everyone else. 

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