Berrymans Lace Mawer has been rated the worst firm for pay by its staff in the RollOnFriday Firm of the Year 2017 survey.

More than one lawyer at the personal injury specialist described remuneration as "woeful". Rises were described as "minimal" or "unheard of", with "overworked and underpaid" solicitors "having to watch 'Talent Engagement', 'Go To Market' and 'Training' teams twiddle their thumbs on high salaries". There were criticisms of a bonus that is "impossible" to achieve for those who do fixed fee work, who are "incidentally the lowest paid fee earners". The Senior Partner was blamed for a "ludicrous one man ego trip to make the firm a global power", which has seen partners "militantly push unrealistic time recording targets", while paying staff "high street firm salaries". Partners also had "the barefaced cheek to tell staff that pay is lower than competitors because there is not a long hours culture!!" A junior lawyer estimated, "I would earn more stacking shelves in Tesco". 

Another personal injury firm, Irwin Mitchell, came second from bottom with 26%. Bonus pools are "now unlocked only when a department hits its billing targets", which "is unfortunate for those in departments where most people have resigned". One lawyer said the problem stemmed from the fact that, "everything about the firm is designed to play people off against each other". Which includes "different salaries for NQs working in the same office. How is that a good idea?" Employees from merged firm Thomas Eggar are "still on their old salaries, which is ridiculous when their colleagues sat next to them are on a five figure sum more for doing the exact same work". It made the London office "a difficult place to be". Equity partners, said a lawyer, "continue to strip the business every year and claim there is no money to provide pay rises for the people who actually do the work - it's like a Victorian mill". A qualified legal helpline worker "on the living wage" recalled "staring at desks overlooking a fleet of brand new Land Rovers and Audis". At least "the partner who parked his DB9 in the client spaces has now gone". 

Yet another PI giant took the third bottom slot. Slater & Gordon is "stacked with the most mediocre sub human lawyers you can find", said one them, which is "a byproduct of paying shit money".

At Bircham Dyson Bell, the "appalling" pay was rated 28%. It is "widely accepted that to get a decent pay rise you have to secure an offer from elsewhere", said one lawyer, "at which point most good people leave".

Capsticks, 29%, attracted scorn for its "terrible" maternity pay and "terrible" benefits, including "a much-advertised corporate gym membership rate that is tantamount to be punched in the face with a money bag". The salaries at Kennedys, level on 29% in 61st place, were "embarrassing", with staff asserting that prospects of a raise were "negligible even for those meeting their billing targets several times over". 

There was annoyance at Reed Smith, 30%, over the increase in target hours from 1,500 to 1,600 "without any commitment to a pay increase". Management, said a lawyer, "tried to sell the hours increase as a gateway to increasing pay", but because of the last three years of "minimal" pay rises, "nobody believes that there will be any meaningful change in compensation". It has led to "bubbling near-mutiny", said a colleague, while another said, "I don't know anybody who doesn't have their CV out in the market".

  But those mean old partners just don't care 

Golden Turd 2017 KWM, on 34%, cancelled pay in January and then went bust, which may help explain its poor showing. Business support staff, said one, got statutory minimum redundancy packages "for 20+ years of service in some instances", and, "a gigantic FU from the firm they loyally served for so long".    

At Nabarro, 41%, associates in the most highly rated departments are "constantly being poached by US firms/top 25 firms for massive pay rises", leading to "high turnover and low morale". The same problem afflicted Blake Morgan, also on 41%, where pay is "far too low" and as a result there's an "exodus" of 1-2PQEs. At Bond Dickinson, also 41%, the partners' "refusal to accept that pay is lower than competitors" has upset staff, with one saying it is "really poor - significantly lower than far smaller, regional firms".  

At Shoosmiths, 42%, there's been a raise, but not much celebration. "Everyone is getting a paltry 1.5% pay rise this year", said a solicitor.

DAC Beachcroft
scored 45%, with several associates complaining that "for a City firm, wages are too low". NQ salaries "haven't increased in 5 years", while higher band salaries remain "dishearteningly low". A partner defended its approach, writing, "Obviously it is in the markets it is in, the watchwords are value for money, and for someone who wanted City work, pay (and hours) it would be a poor choice. But that ought not to be a surprise to anyone". They added, "Do partners get paid more than staff? Yes, of course, that's just how the industry works. Is the firm run with the intention of sweating every last drop out of assistants to fund a fat cat lifestyle for the few? No. I guess all the would-be fat cats give us a swerve, which we are fine about, thanks. Didn't work out for KWM did it?"
Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 03 February 17 15:09

Its not just legal staff what about the support staff. Been told there will be no pay rise ever.

Anonymous 03 February 17 17:14

Nabarro never seems to give Secretaries payrises. Any that are given are pretty derisory. I wonder whether they will fare better once the "merger" with CMS/Olswang will happen. I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous 07 February 17 10:08

At Berrymans Lace Mawer, sorry, "BLM", I was once given a pay rise and then, a couple of months later, they told me it was an error and reversed it. Really made me feel valued.