Knights PLC is the Golden Turd 2022.
It ranked last in the RollOnFriday Best Law Firms to Work At 2022, with respondents from Knights recording the lowest satisfaction scores of all the law firm workforces in the survey.
Knights' poor performance contrasts with its stock market success. The firm floated in 2018, growing its share price and acquiring other firms so proficiently that Chief Executive David Beech made £61 million when he sold a portion of his shares last year.
But that same profitability appears to have cultivated the seeds of the Golden Turd.
The blunt verdict expressed by a junior lawyer was that Knights "only care about share price", a judgment echoed by other staff.
"It’s all about the investors. I’d be better off in McDonalds", claimed a partner.
Some respondents were irked that the firm was able to buy up other businesses even during the pandemic, but was apparently unable to refund wage deductions which it imposed during the same period.
"Our pay was docked by 10% without consultation and unlike other firms, we are not getting it back", complained a senior solicitor.
Considerable resentment was directed at the higher-ups. "The CEO told the workforce during a video call that he is personally no longer motivated by money... which is a very easy thing to say when you're worth over £130m!", said one respondent.
Not all the Knights were unhappy. A paralegal said her pay was "considerably higher than other firms locally. So I cannot really complain".
There was also praise for the "excellent" work/life balance on offer. It "genuinely is your core hours and the odd additional bit for market rates of pay", said a solicitor.
But, said another, "It is a very strange place. People disappear overnight. One minute somebody is there and the next they are gone". Several respondents referred to a lack of transparency. "All information is clouded in secrecy until a certain point when you are provided with part or inaccurate information. You are told what you want to hear to get you to do what they need", said a junior solicitor.
A number of staff alluded to a religious atmosphere. "It’s a bit cult like at times - being critical of the firm marks you as a troublemaker rather than a professional considering ideas from all perspectives", said a senior lawyer. "If you can tolerate that (not all can!) then it’s a really friendly place".
"It is very much the DB show", said another partner, "but if you play the game you are fine". Knights "actually micromanage much less than other firms”, they added. “Also the risk as a partner is nil as you have no equity.”
A junior lawyer countered that actually they were watched very closely, and grumbled that "our hours recorded are scrutinised and you get a call from some over-promoted idiot if you’re not recording enough".
"People are made to send emails or worse, stand up at conferences and 'fess up to not charging clients enough", said a lawyer. "You may as well put a hat on which says 'I am a twat'", they added. "You tell your story of how you’ve not been maximising your billing to clients for years, but now, with the help of [management], you’ve seen the light. What sort of place encourages such ritual humiliation?"
The future of the Golden Turd could well be golden, however. Some staff said the difficulty of locating a culture amongst the disparate firms which now form significant parts of Knights was bound to vanish with the end of Covid restrictions. "I look forward to the real merge happening when offices can meet and interact in person and we start having our full firm 'dos' to bring everyone together", said a paralegal.
A less optimistic solicitor warned that "the issue is Beechy selling his remaining shares, if that happens the business will go down the pan faster than a fully vazzed turd". At least it will be golden.
The firm declined to comment.