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Baker McKenzie offers lawyers part-paid summer sabbaticals in response to pandemic

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Also implements reduced working week option

Baker McKenzie has introduced a series of new measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the option for lawyers and staff to take part-paid summer sabbaticals.

The global giant said the extended holidays were part of a range of voluntary working options to ensure the strength of its business while providing employees with “as much job security as possible”. The firm did however stress that partners will “bear the brunt of any impact”.

It is understood that the sabbaticals will last between six weeks and three months.

Bakers — which briefly shuttered its London HQ in February following a suspected case of COVID-19 (it turned out to be a false alarm) — has also implemented a new optional reduced hours programme, which will see some lawyers and support staff work a four-day week for 85% pay.

It is also deferring salary reviews for all staff for at least six months, pushing back decisions on bonuses until later in the year, and pausing recruitment activities with the exceptions of graduate recruitment and strategic lateral hires.

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Alex Chadwick, London managing partner, said: “We have navigated the COVID-19 economic environment well so far. This is because of the full service global nature of our firm, our local strength and the continued delivery of the highest standards of client service.”

He added:

“As the economic landscape begins to shift, we need to ensure that we are well positioned so we can continue to protect the strength of our business while preserving jobs. This means adopting a prudent and measured approach temporarily until the economic picture becomes clearer.”

Bakers isn’t the first big legal player to offer its staff extended breaks. In April, Legal Cheek reported that Shearman & Sterling was offering its lawyers and staff sabbaticals of up to six months at a third of their annual salary, while Reed Smith has introduced a scheme which allows employees the option to take up to three months unpaid leave.

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18 Comments

Joe

FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT HAVE VAC SCHEMES THIS SUMMER THAT HAVE TURNED ONLINE…

can someone please give any indication of what to expect and what tasks you were given if you have already completed it or are undergoing one at the moment.

The firm I have a vac scheme with has not given us any info at all or even a timetable of what to expect and it starts in a few days

(16)(7)

Anonymous

Just relax. You will sit at your computer for a few days and be watching videos. Doubt you need extensive preparation

(21)(0)

Kyle

Relaxing isn’t gonna get the TC

(2)(5)

Trainee

Extensive preperation won’t either. All that matters on vac schemes is whether you’re engaged and personable. As long as you’re not a complete idiot, that should be sufficient.

(6)(0)

1st seat trainee

1) agreed that extensive prep will not help.
2) disagree that it’s all about being engaged and personable. It’s about being those two things, but also preparing hard for that end of scheme interview + making sure your work is typo free and very good (for a vac schemer).

I’ve had a vac scheme where I was the most engaged and personable guy in the building – didn’t help me when I got grilled in the end of scheme interview!

Joe’s Mum

WHAT FIRM IS IT JOE?? I was going to make you a cake with their name on

(31)(0)

Gba

CC and Ashurst are the ones kicking off in the next week or so. My money is on it being Ashurst.

(3)(0)

lil vac schemer

If you’re that worried can’t you just directly ask the firm? And why would they give you info on what tasks you will do during the scheme if it’s meant to be like a real-time work scenario?

I’m in the same boat as you but trying to stay level-headed. You will be fine!

(1)(2)

Reality check

It’s nothing like a real-time work scenario.

(0)(0)

Genuine advice

I’ve just taken part in a virtual vac scheme and can offer the following advice/tips:

1) Wear a trilby through the week-long programme, regardless of whether you’re male or female. It will act as an excellent conversion starter with trainees, associates and fashion-conscious partners.

2) Ask everyone you meet (virtually) on the scheme if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. I cannot stress this point enough.

3) It’s is fine to dip in and out of the scheme as you see fit. The firm’s lawyers will not care. They will hate the fact they’re being made to do this.

4) Ensure your internet is as poor as possible. Got good internet? Do the entire scheme on your phone.

5) Ask everyone which uni they attended.

Best of luck x

(57)(2)

The A and the O

A&O cutting NQ salary to 85k you heard it here first.

(6)(1)

3rd year llb

Reallly? Can’t be come on it’s magic circle

(0)(5)

Showround @ Bakers

lol deluded kiddo

(3)(0)

Interested One

What are Bakers’ standout practices?

(0)(0)

Like my comment

Baking

(9)(1)

Maker Beckenzie

Ah Bakers, the McDonalds of law firms

(9)(10)

lol

Not sure what to think about this.

If you were 3-5 yrs qualified and had enough cash behind you to not need to earn for a few mths, this could be a great idea while the market is so quiet (recharge the batteries / hopefully take some sort of extended holiday somewhere (COVID permitting)). I would be reluctant to take up the offer if junior to 3 yrs qualified as I think there’s more risk that you would be internally perceived as being left behind by your peers.

It’s hard to tell whether taking the sabbatical would earn you an immediate mark next to your name as somebody who is ripe for redundancy. Not sure what I would do here.

(1)(0)

John Doe

Beats working for nothing!

(0)(0)

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