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UK law firms reward lawyers with COVID bonuses

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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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35 Comments

FlourPour

Good news for US firm recruiters.

Kame

The Ashurst bonus is fake news. All they are announcing is that they will pay bonuses as part of their standard pay review cycle. The “doubling the bonus pool” is utterly meaningless, and the minimum £1k is coming from the bonus pool. This shouldn’t be reported as a COVID bonus.

Anon

US firms are just running away with this

Old Guy

Any firm that gives me a £1000 bonus for hard work during a global pandemic, which means I take home £600 can keep the money. It is a meaningless gesture, and I would much prefer if they quietly sent around Harrods hampers, vouchers to spend in Tesco for my weekly family shop, or even just confirmed there would be no redundancies this year. Sending £600 to someone who has made big personal and professional sacrifices over the past 13 months for the firm and then releasing it in the press as some sort of generous gesture, whilst the partners still got paid handsomely, would be taking the Michael.

Confused @ Old Guy

The bonus is a poor one but your point is perplexing – you would rather tesco vouchers (if they even exist) to £600 in cash?

Pull the other one

Old Guy

Honestly what’s the difference between £600 (max btw) which is £50 a month and a voucher for 20% of for a year at a supermarket? Don’t know if that exists but you get the point. I’d be happier to find £50 on the floor by accident rather than get this as a reward for sacrifices at work.

topkek

“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.”

PHAT MONEY LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL 😀 😀 😀

PathetiCheek

Well done LC for removing the thumbs up/thumbs down buttons, you incel coomer c*nts.

Archibald Pomp O'City

They’re there, tosser.

eee

Why are the like buttons gone?

And yes, that’s incredible – hope the Ashurst lot will not blow it all in one place.

Real World Lawyer

Meanwhile back in Legal Aid land it’s furlough, reduced pay and redundancies.

Anon

Should have studied harder then.

SM Assoc

Dismal but unsurprising from Slaughters

Other SM Assoc

When did they say this?

Anon

Mentioning Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Walker Morris together is a bit odd.

WM is an overblown High Street firm in Leeds.

Realist

Hardly. They are a decent shop. Tbf the money dished out represents a more generous gesture from the partners up there to associates that earn £50-£60k. Firms that claim to be international firms, beasting associates and handing out chump change is a joke.

Realer

How much the partners take home? Get real.

SC

Big fan of lots of students lamenting the bonus size at firms they will never work at.

“NOTHING ON US LAW 😍”

Warwick 2nd Year BA History

Hey, doesn’t Katten Munching count as a US law firm??? 🙁

what about Mayer Brown??????

Anon

Still waiting on that NRF covid bonus announcement………

nostradamuz boi

rofl never gonna happen fam 😀

Zara

Actually just announced that they’re paying £100 (one hundred) bonus so no need to be so doubtful – they came through.

Anon

Why are these bonuses so much lower than those being offered by MoneyLaw?

simple easy butter 🧈

Less profitable firms to begin with, less PE/restructuring/litigation work during COVID.

Bob

For the same reasons UK firm salaries are lower than US firm salaries. They are overall less profitable firms as they do not focus on very narrow very profitable sectors and do not solely act for clients that are happy to pay exorbitant fees.

SC

The pandemic combined with pre-existing market conditions (cheap borrowing, pent-up M&A) has been a bonanza for a select few well-hedges firms in the current field of play. Lots of big PE houses have been aggressively acquiring/moving on assets, not to mention the proliferation of foreign funds/offerings being created that require London market expertise. All this means firms that lead largely on PE, fund finance, E/DCM etc are seeing incredible revenue jumps. Full service firms have often seen growth in these departments as well, along with restructuring and litigation, but the slowing down of other sectors and external firm freezes from many domestic clients has made the picture more mixed. Owing to this, even a global behemoth such as A&O can’t give out £20k+ bonuses like the ones given out by Akin Gump et al.

JL

Absolutely laughable from Ashurst. Reduced salaries by 20% for 3 months and haven’t paid it back, but hey here’s 1k before tax. What a joke.

#Ashurst #QueenSlay

BUT…BUT…BUT THE CULTURE! WONT ANYONE THINK OF THE CULTURE!!

Help

Meanwhile, I am currently logging off work right now (at just before 3:00 AM), and I am at a UK firm that regularly works across from several of the above-mentioned firms, and many of the US ones making the bonus news lately. Now that I think of it, this ball-ache of a file that has me typing this at this hour has one of those firms involved.

The only thanks I will be getting is a reminder that I shouldn’t send emails after midnight as it looks bad, so I should use the delay delivery so it doesn’t go until 9:30AM. Even briefly mentioning the Covid bonuses being reported gets you evil stares from the partners on Teams calls. Nothing is in the pipeline.

I love being a UK lawyer and I genuinely enjoy the subject matter of my work, but Lord knows I bloody hate working for a UK law firm.

US 2nd yr

It’s quite simple: either move to a US firm or stop whining. US firms are aggressively recruiting at the moment so there’s no shortage of positions.

Help

Oh you better believe I submitted some speculative CVs yesterday. Hoping those seeds bare fruit sooner than later.

My trouble is the roles in my area of practice advertised are also typically for a higher PQE than me, so my applications are definitely punching.

In-house looks tempting…

Strawberry Blonde

*bear fruit

US 2nd yr

Fair play, good luck with the search.

Helpful person

Best check those applications for typos – not sure they will “BEAR” fruit if you are sending them out at 3am as well.

Good luck!

Grim up north

As someone who will soon be in receipt of the Walker Morris cash, a couple of thoughts. It’s a nice gesture from a great firm that really does care about its staff, also, were in Leeds – you can easily buy a house with that here!

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