US firm Paul Hastings tells London lawyers work from the office ‘by default’

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From 7 September 🗓️

US outfit Paul Hastings has told its lawyers and staff, including those in London, that “by default”, they should work from the office.

According to a memo sent by firm chairman Seth Zachary and co-managing partners Greg Nitzkowski and Ronan O’Sullivan, the back-to-office approach applies globally and takes effect from 7 September.

The firm’s leaders said that they “understand and respect the flexibility that individual circumstances will require” but “by default, we should work from the office when we are able”.

The memo went on to stress that the move “is as important for helping to nurture and strengthen our sense of culture, teamwork and collaboration as it is for serving clients at the highest levels”.

The approach contrasts with many of the flexible working polices adopted by major City law firms.

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The likes of Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Linklaters have all permitted lawyers and staff to work away from the office for up to 50% of the time, while Slaughter and May has pushed ahead with a 40% WFH policy for lawyers and staff, and a 20% option for trainees.

Other firms to implement similar policies in recent weeks include Dechert, Eversheds Sutherland, Gowling WLG, Irwin Mitchell and Simmons & Simmons.

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Paul Hastings NQ

False. I work at Paul Hastings and they told us to work from home 2 days a week – Saturday and Sunday.



Glad to hear it – only a crap place to work would force people into the office ‘by default’.



This was kind of the norm a year ago though?



They are just being realistic. Most other firms with a “2-3 day WFH policy” will end-up being working from the office 90-95% of the time. Truth is, WFH is very circumstantial and team-related rather than firm-wide.



There will be no difference in practice between this and the “flexible policies” adopted at other firms. In the office 3-4 days a week with a day WFH if you happen to need it from time to time.



Why is Paul Hastings treated like a two-bit firm when it pays £133,000 NQ?



Lots of US firms with small offices/practices in London pay high salaries (US rates). Whilst salary is important, it’s not the only indication of the quality of a firms London practice.


Memer Extremer

Because it is?

Why do you assume that high salaries suggest anything about a firm’s standing in the market?

Akin Pump (Gump) was one of the first to match Cravath scale in London and it’s still as small and irrelevant an office s it always has been.



You’re kidding right? Being small is by no means indication of quality. Aking Gump works on top-tier mandates, just few and selected, and often targeting specific areas. This can’t have been a comment coming from a professional…



Calm down, you Aching Gump

By virtue of being incredibly specialised, and good at about 2 things, it’s not a heavy, elite, whamming London hitter. It’s like saying that because HFW is a top top top top firm at shipping, it’s a toppity tippity London firm. I’m sure there are lots of other examples.
All in all, it’s not that relevant in the London market. They don’t dominate the best deals


Pump my Atkins

Aren’t you that annoying student who keeps popping up and offering their irrelevant opinion about everything? Who are you exactly to judge which opinions do and don’t come from a professional?



I am just saying that people on here seem to bash virtually all firms for no reason. This firm does work on very high-profile mandates in the fields it operates in London. This is a fact, backed-up by the top of the market salary it pays. Also, if you would work in those areas, you would know the firm is very well known and considered.


What are people’s thoughts on PH as a firm?



In London it focuses on specific transactional areas. Inside those areas, it is a very reputable firm. People here appear to be mostly students that don’t understand that size does not equate to standing or prestige. They would prefer Eversheds over this elite firm just because the former is “larger”… just insane if you ask me!


I know everything better than everybody ever ha ha ha

It’s basically a mid-tier debt finance shop. Very much seen as second-rate on both sides of the Atlantic. Kind of like Dechert but without a standout white collar crime practice.


so much straw...

Except no one is comparing Akin Gump to Eversheds? A better comparison would be between Akin Gump and US firms with large and diversified offices or between Akin Gump and large international and MC firms.



You would be earning North of 30% more at this firm than at a traditional MC, working on very good cross-border mandates. I don’t understand the MC comparison!


Paul Bastings

Satellite office that does second rate work. Also probably one of the most privately educated white and male office I’ve ever step foot in.


John Jones

Goodbye recruitment policy, goodbye retention rates



Why would you think so? Genuinely curious to know. This is an elite firm and very well respected shop. There are hundreds (if not thousands) if professionals in queue for any position at the firm also in London.



Hundreds of Leeds graduates maybe.



Because those same people are queueing for other firms and will choose one with a better wfh policy.



If someone is weighing up two offers, or isn’t absolutely set on a move, having to into the office for a full 5 days would be a negative factor. While it might not be decisive, only a fool wouldn’t consider it given the quality of life benefit that it offers. It also speaks volumes about PH’s culture. On that basis alone, I’d pass on PH.



Hundreds of Warwick graduates.



Good, people need to get back to work.


Steven Seagull

People have been working all through the pandemic. Work isn’t a place, it’s something you do.

Why should people take their laptops (which they can work from home on) on a commute into London and then work at a desk in an office? Very inefficient.


WFH vibes

Agree. 2020 has been the busiest year for a lot of people. This concept that work = office needs to change. It has been proven that this is not the case!



Prestige is just something MC lawyers say to make themselves feel better about earning £40k a year less for the same amount of work.



MC pay of 100k is around 5.5k a month post tax and 130k (Paul Hastings pay) is around 6.5k a month post tax.

That difference (especially once rent, bills, student debt, travel, socials etc are excluded) is not going to be life changing. Both associates will lead very similar lifestyles either way



Yup and even the top standard US pay of 140k is about 7k post tax. Still great, but an extra 1.5k isn’t exactly worth it in return for your weekends, no holidays and convincing yourself that you enjoy private equity or funds.


King of Cope

1. Most MC firms are not paying £100k at the moment – it’s closer to 90k. Plus, they will cut the salary at the first sign of trouble (as they all did during the pandemic) and take ages to return it back to normal. Meanwhile, White & Case increased its NQ pay from £105k to £120k during the pandemic.

2. US firms are increasing NQ pay at a much higher rate than any UK firm. Just two years ago, the standard was £115k for NQs. Now, most decent firms pay £133k (+ a bigger bonus than UK firms). Most US trainees who start this year will probably be closer to ~£150k when they qualify.

3. Pretty obvious but you get paid more as you get more senior. I’m not sure what this lame tax argument thinks people are going to do – just sit under 100k for their entire careers so that they aren’t in a higher tax bracket? You’re going to have to get to £130k eventually. The only difference is that you’ll be 8PQE at a MC firm making £130k while 24-year-olds at US firms are making £150k. Any smart US NQ will just be throwing everything into their pension anyway.



Working out the post-tax and monthly expenditure differences in salary is just something MC lawyers do to make themselves feel better about earning £40k a year less for the same amount of work.



No buddy it’s just what logical adults do when considering whether a lateral offer. Finish your GDL and you’ll figure that out soon


Old Guy

Anyone who leaves a good team in the Magic Circle to go to a US firm is an idiot. The only reason to leave is if there are no medium-long term prospects in the Magic Circle firm and one is looking for a last big pay day and better exit options in finance, or the whole team moves to the US firm and you go too. Honestly you kids should understand the value of being in a team where you are kept busy and aren’t going to be chucked any time soon. Jumping ship for extra cash at age 30 to then have to prove yourself again and develop new relationships is not smart.


Bombay Bad Boy

At best, this argument works for the first couple of years of the Cravath scale and is partly due to loss of personal allowance. After that, even without taking the much higher bonuses into account, US associates are substantially better off financially.



This argument has very faulty basis. As a US NQ, I max out my pensions and my office matches my contribution, even before taxes are deducted so what is effectively taxed is just over 90k. If a MC NQ tries that….let’s just say their standard of living will be pitiful



Yes and anyone with talent is at the Bar, anyway. If you are a non-contentious solicitor, you just fill in forms and never encounter any law.


Kirkland NQ

The ‘land has a strict policy, we can either work from the office or be WFL (working from Lambo).


Asia US Firm NQ

People keep going on about MC pay, US firm pay in London, etc…..the biggest kept (not so) secret is that Asia is where it’s at. The top US firms here pay Cravath + full bonus + Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). COLA amounts to an extra USD 70-90K per year PLUS you get taxed way less out here in Asia (~15%).



Only problem is that you will almost certainly have to have near-fluency in the local language. 99% of UK law students won’t have that. And very few firms will let you transfer from London to an overseas office.


Asia US Firm NQ

True, though it can be done. Certain practice areas do not require fluency in the local language (certain litigation/arbitration/investigations practices, special situations/restructuring, etc.) though of course it would be very helpful.


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