UK law firms reward lawyers with COVID bonuses

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By Aishah Hussain on

Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Walker Morris latest to thank staff with cash sums

A trio of UK law firms are rewarding their lawyers with ‘COVID bonuses’ in recognition of their efforts during the past year.

Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Walker Morris are the latest law firms to thank their staff with cash sums of varying amounts.

Allen & Overy is paying all lawyers and support staff a one-off bonus this month amounting to 5% of their salaries. The bonus, which a firm spokesperson said is “in recognition of their hard work and contributions in very challenging circumstance over the last 12 months”, will be in addition to the usual performance bonus and salary reviews in place at the firm.

Ashurst has doubled the size of its bonus pool and is handing out £1,000 special rewards to staff. The one-off payment will be paid in July to all the firm’s staff worldwide.

“As a result of a great team effort, we have performed well this year and we predict a relatively strong finish to the financial year,” said Ashurst’s global managing partner, Paul Jenkins. “In recognition of that, we are increasing our bonus pool by 100%, or doubling the size of the existing bonus pool, which will include a one-off reward of at least £1,000 or equivalent to staff.”

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Meanwhile, the partners at Leeds-headquartered law firm Walker Morris are saying thank you to staff for their “incredible support” this year with £1,000 cash awards. The “lockdown thank-you” will be paid out this month as part of their salaries and is in addition to the firm’s performance-related bonus scheme.

“This has been a difficult year and we are proud of the contribution that all our employees have made, both individually and working collaboratively within their teams,” said Walker Morris’ managing partner, Malcolm Simpson. “Despite the significant challenges, with our employees’ help, we have come through this crisis a stronger, more resilient business.”

The announcements follow other City law firms thanking their staff with cash bonuses. Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills are handing out a bonus of 5% of salary, while Addleshaw Goddard and Simmons & Simmons are giving everyone £1,500 and £1,000, respectively.

Slaughter and May has said it will not be dishing out special COVID bonuses. The magic circle firm did, however, bump up associates’ bonuses by 2% just before Christmas.

One UK-headquartered law firm isn’t just saying thank you with cash. DLA Piper is rewarding its international lawyers and business services professionals for their lockdown endeavours with either one week’s pay or an extra week’s holiday. The ‘one-week thank you’ is in addition to pay reviews and bonus awards that will go ahead over the next few months.

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