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Mayer Brown’s London Managing Partner has told his colleagues not to ruin fee-earners' holidays with work demands.
Dominic Griffiths instructed his partners that "there is a presumption that holidays will not be cancelled or interrupted unless there is a genuine emergency which cannot be resolved without the input of the individual concerned".
Griffiths told RollOnFriday that he reinforced his reminder with a message to fee earners, telling then that an interruption of their annual leave "only ever happens where there is a genuine emergency which cannot be resolved without your input".
US firms have a reputation for expecting their solicitors to be available 24/7, 365 days a year, and Griffith's edict could be interpreted as an effort to placate put-upon Mayer Brown associates in a red-hot recruitment market. A senior solicitor at Mayer Brown told ROF earlier this year that there was "no protection of holidays" at the firm and that "even unimportant emails [have] to be responded to while on holiday".
Lawyers at many US firms in London are compensated generously for their time, and they enjoy some of the biggest wages in City law. However, a junior solicitor at Mayer Brown complained that her firm did not pay enough to justify wrecking vacations. "Mayer Brown views themselves as on par with K&E, Latham, STB, etc., and expects the same output, weekend work and cancelled holidays while paying (sometimes less than) silver circle salaries", she said.
Free time has become especially important in the WFH era, with lawyers across private practice complaining that supervisors began treating them as on call at all hours. A Mayer Brown solicitor said that during the pandemic, it was "very much the attitude, 'well you aren’t doing anything else...'".
However, a spokesperson for Mayer Brown said Griffiths was "simply reiterating the importance of people having a real break from work whilst on holiday, which is largely followed already, and letting the associates know that a work/life balance is one of his priorities".
Griffiths told ROF, "I believe it is incumbent upon us that client matters are always appropriately covered whilst our lawyers take well deserved breaks in the ordinary course".
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