Irwin Mitchell is the Golden Turd 2018.

Staff at the national personal injury firm awarded Irwin Mitchell just 23% overall. That was 1% less than last year's loser, KWM. And KWM had just gone bust.

"Back stabbing. Favoritism. Shit IT. Out of touch management. Weak HR", summed up a trainee. The management "is akin to Lord of the Flies", said a junior lawyer.  "Absolutely appalling in every respect", agreed a colleague. Senior management "shun the opinions of departmental managers when submitting tone deaf edicts which seem calculated to create resentment and inefficiency". Exhibit one, "patronising 'values' like 'tenacity' and 'pioneering' daubed in lurid colours on the walls". Exhibit two, "Scoreboards on the walls with stars next to names of solicitors indicating management approval (or not)". The culture "would seem unduly patronising in a creche".

Some staff had good things to say about Irwin Mitchell. It was "definitely improving over what it was", said one, and was "not nearly as bad as the London-centric detractors would have you believe". There was an all male board, but "that's finally changing with women making it to the top". It was, said another, "not as bad as the press makes out".

Hopefully it's not as bad as its own staff make out, either. "If there is any firm that should attract bad publicity", said a senior solicitor, "it is Irwin Mitchell". There was, he said, an "exceptionally greedy cohort of equity partners underpaying staff to undertake the roles of lawyer, business development manager, CSR co-ordinaries and press liaison all merged into one role".

One example of this, said another senior solicitor, was the firm instructing junior staff "to build links with disability charities simply as a way to persuade said charities to refer all their service users to the firm for negligence claims". Ingenious, perhaps, but also, she said, "truly awful". Meanwhile, "People actually shit on the floor!" said a junior lawyer. "On the actual floor".

  Bless you, Golden Turd, already getting work in for your new masters. 

"Despite efforts to change", said a senior solicitor, "the culture within some divisions and offices is still toxic". There was, said a junior solicitor, "zero correlation between performance and pay and progression". Departments, he said, "base their entire business model on not qualifying staff" to save money, and "are now trying to prevent qualification via Cilex after having relied on the TC model for years to hold people back".

"It really is a case of who brown noses and back-stabs best", said a senior solicitor. As for the coffee, it was "cheap and bitter - like many of the partners".

In a creditable move, the firm addressed its drubbing head-on. “We welcome all feedback to improve our business", said a spokesman, "and will take on board the RollOnFriday results. We seek regular external feedback from clients via services such as Trust Pilot and we are pleased that our customers rate our services very highly. We also received over 2,000 responses in our 2017 internal employee engagement survey with very positive scores on areas including diversity and inclusion and we have robust action plans to continue making improvements to our employee experience”.

Another PI firm, troubled Slater and Gordon, came second bottom. "Awful awful awful", said a trainee. Its business model "revolves around pigeonholing trainees in a bid to retain them" in a "dying area", he said: the PI sector. The abominable news reports, said a senior solicitor, "speak for themselves". There was "no chance of progression or promotion", said a morose junior solicitor. "No chance of a pay rise, no point in trying". Hooray!

Kennedys also hit the low 20s. Staff said the partners "only care about increasing PEP", and pay was "dictated by low hourly rates and a high proportion of fixed (low) fee work". In spite of the glamour, "it's like the Marie Celeste at 5pm". Which indicates a healthy work/life balance, at least, although one solicitor said it was only because "Nobody can take more than 8 hours of that shit a day".

Check out the full results next week.
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 26 January 18 08:38

Who would ever want to go and work at Irwin Mitchell? It is a business that wants to be that which it can never be, spending money bringing in dinosaurs and rejects to try and build a commercial businesss. It will never happen, give it up and chase those ambulances, it’s what you are good at.

Anonymous 26 January 18 10:03

Job security for now, but if the greedy partners keep stripping the business, how long will it last.

Love the standard response from the Ostriches in charge to the award - typical. They have now intention of changing, they just want to bury the bad news...again!!

Sadly for all us still here, its a worthy winner.

Anonymous 26 January 18 10:31

Oh - "we have robust action plans to continue making improvements to our employee experience".

None of which include:

a) paying staff properly;
b) stopping management stripping an obscene amount out of the rest of the business;
c) restructuring the entire firm so half the 'personal' side isn't treated like the poor relation despite bringing in all the money; or
d) preventing senior partners from giving crap, platitudinous presentations that deal with none of the regularly-expressed concerns but are designed to make us think it's OK when we're all bright enough to know it's not.

As you were...

Anonymous 26 January 18 10:42

Reading about life elsewhere, I feel sorry for the employees of these firms. They sound like terrible places to work. I hope you get out soon.

Anonymous 26 January 18 10:57

Honestly don't recognise the firm any of you are talking about. I've never worked somewhere so happy, diverse, concerned about people (clients and colleagues) and supportive. No firm is perfect but IM is absolutely not the firm described here.

Anonymous 26 January 18 11:17

Anon @10.57 - I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and suppose, just for a moment, that you aren't an entirely predictable management shill.

I can see how some folk in the PI and catastrophic injury teams might enjoy working at IM. Those departments are genuinely good at what they do (it's not just ambulance chasing, but properly complex cases with lifelong implications), and they do form strong bonds both with clients and with each other.

The rest of the firm though...

Anonymous 26 January 18 11:38

I'm so surprised by the vitriol of some of the comments shared here - and certainly there's no mention of the positive comments I shared when I completed the survey.

It's not perfect, of course, but people are supportive and warm, displaying a real desire to do right by their colleagues and their clients. There's a real focus on mental health and wellbeing, balancing family life with work, and developing your career. Sure, the biscuits are a bit naff, but I wouldn't swap the welcoming, inclusive nature for all the chocolate Digestives in the world.

Anonymous 26 January 18 12:37

You have to love how someone saying something good about Irwin Mitchell is a management shill (whatever that means) (anon, 11.17)
Irwin Mitchell has its issues yes but is it really the worst law firm ? Seriously? Compared to the stuffy, old fashioned big London firms that have people chained to their desks to god knows what time? There are things that could be done to improve it but there are also a lot of happy people who like the firm and whose view isn't refelected here. Unhappy people shout louder.

Anonymous 26 January 18 13:44

How does ROF verify that respondents are from the firms they say they are? I'm not at IM, but I know some people on this and other websites get a kick out of denigrating it. What's to say that it's not the same people filling in the survey as "IM lawyers"?

Anonymous 26 January 18 14:01

Anon @ 11.17 We have one of the best Private Wealth businesses in the UK (or does that not count?). I've just been speaking to fee-earners on my floor and they are extremely unhappy about the negative and one-sided nature of the comments about a firm they are proud to work for.

Anonymous 26 January 18 14:21

Anon @ 14:01 Out of interest, did any of these extremely unhappy (with the results) fee-earners take the survey?

Anonymous 26 January 18 14:43

Very very surprising. Who/how many people were consulted here?!

YES - IT dept. is a joke verging on an embarrassment. But that's outsourcing for you.
YES - HR is weak and no one has any idea who they are or what they actually do.
YES - there is favoritism and often she who complains the loudest gets promoted
YES - some of the SMT (below the board) are grossly incompetent and will do anything to save own skin.

The board are genuinely trying to implement positive change
The company listens to is employees and ACTS
Majority of people are good decent human beings & management encourages the need for a work/life balance

Having worked in various firms, is IM the worst? Hell, no. If anything one of the better employers, going places, making positive progress in employee relations.

I can only imagine the respondents to this questionnaire want the trappings of a partner when they have the skill set of a mail room clerk!!

Anonymous 26 January 18 15:32

Anon @ 14.21 No. Half of them didn't even know about it or didn't think it was relevant on the basis that we have a Great Place to Work Survey internally. I think I'm a bit more interested in the results of that survey rather than one where it appears you can pretend to be a lawyer from another firm to slag off the opposition (anon @ 13.44). Oh, and I notice you didn't answer the bit about Private Wealth. According to you all the firm outside PI and Catastrophic Injury is rubbish - which is a demonstrably mischievous comment.

Anonymous 26 January 18 15:59

As a former IM employee I’m not surprised by this result. The firm champions the rights of injured people but does not apply those values to how it treats its staff. I do agree with the various comments that there are many decent people at the firm who are very dedicated and do great work for their clients. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Irwin Mitchell to someone who has suffered a serious injury. But I would never recommend them as an employer.

Anonymous 26 January 18 17:10

Anon 15.32 we’ll if they didn’t bother to respond to the survey they can hardly complain that their love of the firm was not represented in it. It’s like not voting then complaining about who gets in.

Anonymous 26 January 18 18:27

Worked there thanks to my smaller firm being bought out by IM. Left a year after the takeover. Dreadful experience, dreadful firm, dreadful management. Systems and IT not fit for purpose. They say they donate a lot to charity but much of it comes from the staff's pockets and is held out as IM money. They take far more than can be justified from PI clients' damages. Management largely absent, just random edicts from Sheffield. The Private Wealth expertise is bought in via takeover and many good people have already left; more will go. So happy to be out of IM.

Anonymous 27 January 18 09:44

There are bound to be plenty of happy employees at IM. However, I'm not sure you can dismiss the sentiment shared through this survey as competitors or others stirring trouble. The comments outlined above could only be made by those who are working there as the examples would not be visible to anyone outside the business. IM have treated a significant number of people badly when they have left the business in the last few years, particularly those who resigned. This lack of commerciality, particularly from the woeful and frankly inept senior management in the HR team, has gone a long way to destroying the firm's reputation as an employer in recent years. The combination of continued discontent in the ranks and a dreadful reputation externally, which is of their own making, is fuelling IM's troubles. You reap what you sow...

Anonymous 27 January 18 11:32

As a partner in the firm i am embarrassed by this survey but have to agree with the award. What IM was it is no longer. I'm still here as there is no where else in Sheffield to go. We do great Cat work for our clients and i believe we are the best at what we do, but this is despite the inept senior management who don't listen, continue to pay peanuts and drive around looking down on everyone in their Range Rovers

We were once a great firm, we are no longer. The senior management have given it a go, but the sooner they accept their incompetence and move aside for more capable people the better. If you are in senior management and are reading this, don't dismiss what is written, take a long hard look at yourselves and do the decent thing - resign and get out of your ivory tower.

Sheffield is not the centre of the universe and we are not a full service commercial firm

Anonymous 27 January 18 13:53

How much money is paid to ex partner shareholders who have left the business? Why would you want to be a sucker working long hours to generate money for the payment of dividends to people who have retired or worse still, are working for competitors? When you look in the mirror think “IM a sucker” LOL

Anonymous 27 January 18 16:28

Give top jobs to people that have held public company experience that can bring in a team and sort things out. Get serious about investing in people, technologies and new markets.

Some common themes here that cant be dismissed as a few bad apples being grumpy.

Internal feedback is a joke. Way forward is to spend time in all sites at all levels and listen regularly. People/skills development needs to be the focus.

Anonymous 27 January 18 20:46

It is astonishing that they appear to be suggesting non-IM people are responsible for the comments. Delusional.

Anonymous 27 January 18 22:00

I think IM simply expects too much if it’s staff. Targets are sky high but if that weren’t enough, staff at all levels are expected to do so much extra on top - tweet, be a charity trustee, write journal articles, attend training, deliver training. The pace is just too fast for most people. Attempts to make it a better place to work usually mean initiatives that take up yet more of people’s precious time. If they could just lower the targets to more realistic levels, people would stop running round like headless chickens and appreciate the things that actually make IM a good place to be.

Anonymous 27 January 18 22:25

WOW these comments, I’m sure the door is always open if you’re that unhappy!!! I love working at IM

Anonymous 27 January 18 22:27

Absolutely agree about the retired partners being shareholders. A real disincentive to those who work their socks off and are not properly rewarded.

Anonymous 28 January 18 11:05

GPTW survey - are you serious! Who is going to be honest when its not anonymous? Carefully worded questions that don't really dig deep.

Anonymous 28 January 18 15:37

IM suffer because they are focussed upon claimant PI and insurance related work. This means a high lock-up on the claimant side coupled with low margin insurance funded work on the defendant side.

This can be profitable if you accept low margins a fluctuating revenue stream so long as the rest of the firm is subsidising you during the tougher periods. Because IM lack a full-service offering they haven't got the ability to absorb the tough periods. Instead they increase pressure on people to deliver what cannot be delivered.

Paying just over £30k for NQ's and giving them little increases year-on-year while demanding CSR commitments and social media presence on top of ambitious average daily chargeables and billables makes it a tough place to work. When you have a difficult job, the little things start to matter as you expect a support service. There isn't a visible one in place.

Sadly for IM there are some good people but the objectives and realistic delivery fail to align.

I normally hate consultants but it seems like IM could use a root-and-branch review.

Anonymous 29 January 18 12:00

Indeed, some very surprising comments. I love working at Irwin Mitchell, most of all due to its great people.

Anonymous 29 January 18 13:40

Hey, RoF, why aren't you sharing the nice comments from the survey? Why do you hate us? Is it because we don't give you any money?

Anonymous 29 January 18 16:28

anonymous user
27/01/2018 22:00 is correct, this is exactly my experiencing of working at IM (I would add micro-managing). I think everyone in junior positions in my department left in a period of 6 months.

Anonymous 29 January 18 23:01

I work at IM and I like it. It’s not perfect but the people I work with, including partners, with are genuinely nice and really know their stuff. I’ve had contact with HR through a colleague with health issues and they were v good - careful and helpful. Its also incredibly open socially - loads of women and v mixed ethnically. I think that problems we do have stem from the fact that upper management hasn’t worked out how to manage a massive firm consistently and well across multiple offices and too often resort to multiple edicts from on high that result in complete overload. Judging by the comments here (which I have never heard IRL), it’s too easy for a few arseholes to slip through the net and give us all an undeserved bad name. And I did complete the survey BTW.

Anonymous 31 January 18 21:26

Maybe kennedys will get this year's turd award although one only hopes they will have a clear out of some of the partners before then and change its culture

Anonymous 31 January 18 21:37

Loving the angst, the references to dickhead colleagues, the frustration at the Sheffield mill owners who’ve teken the shares so wukers can never ever get their hands on the business and cast off the chains of mill owner oppression. The mill owners will exploit wukers for generations to come trousering brass from wukers toil. All wukers want is a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s graft. Aye up.

Anonymous 01 February 18 09:20

Pretty similar to the contents of the exit questionnaire I submitted when I left IM last year, which featured words such as toxic, bitchy, controlling and back stabbing. Progression for those who suck up to management and bullying for those who have their own mind and dare to challenge management. A well deserved win IM!

Anonymous 01 February 18 15:25

I must add that at the time of doing the GPTW survey the Southampton managing partner plied us with excessive quantities of chocolate and joked about the fact he'd done it to improve the scores. I agree with the other comment that the survey wasn't anonymous and as I was quite new at the time, I was fairly kind in the survey. The high turnover of junior staff talks for itself. I've read a couple of comments saying IM cares about the mental health of it's staff but my experience and the experience of others I know there is that being there was causative of ill health and the main reason I left was to protect my health.

Anonymous 03 February 18 08:27

IM is a great place to work, otherwise I would have left. It’s an inclusive firm where the Board strive to implement a diverse culture. People are listened to as evidenced by the fact that there is a GPTW survey and follow up actions. Lots of hard work does not frighten me and my team. We strive to be the best... we are on a journey together and the comments here smack of bitter people who weren’t up to the change challenge. It’s a business at the end of the day. People need to get out if they don’t like it and aren’t up to it... why just slag off your own firm? Just leave and find an easier, less diverse and cutting edge environment if you’re not interested in being part of a different law firm where you are challenged to be an all rounder? I’m not an ambulance chaser, certainly none of my colleagues in complex PI work are either. I’m part of the Private wealth team where the enthusiasm for change and providing expert and comprehensive advice is palpable.

Anonymous 05 February 18 13:04

Worthy winner of the Golden Turd. Even more so as the article has not even addressed the victimisation and bullying that occurs in some teams by certain individuals, which is then supported by more senior staff.

Comment made on 26/01/2018 at 11:36 - "There's a real focus on mental health and wellbeing" - are you joking? Those who disclose any mental health difficulties are not given any support, but are targeted and pushed out of the organisation.

As others have said - Irwin Mitchell do a great job for their clients, particularly in PI. However, as an employer, it is very much a turd.