Osborne Clarke ties bonuses to office attendance

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By Emily Hinkley on


60/40 split

Osborne Clarke has said that to qualify for a bonus, lawyers and staff must come into the office at least three times per week.

The firm’s chief people officer, Graham de Guise, confirmed the new policy, saying that to be considered for a bonus an employee would need to be in the office “more often than not”.

He highlighted that this was just one aspect reviewed when awarding bonuses, saying: “To be considered for a bonus in 2024 and beyond, our people would normally need to reach our minimum expectations across a number of areas from completing mandatory training, total time recording, setting and achieving stretching objectives, [and] contributing to wider firm initiatives.”

Further clarifying the time requirement de Guise said: “By more often than not, for our full-time colleagues, we mean three days a week spent in one of our offices or with clients.” However, he caveated this, adding, “We also appreciate there are a number of valid reasons this isn’t always possible and we take these into full consideration when making decisions on bonus eligibility.”

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According to the firm, performance bonuses for those attending the office three days a week, as well as meeting other bonus criteria, could be up to 20%. There is also a “discretionary long-term incentive plan with a bonus of up to 40% paid over a period of three years” and, for those that qualify, a 4% profit share in June this year with a £2,000 minimum payment.

With its fancy new Bristol HQ just opened, it’s perhaps not surprising that the firm is keen to encourage employees back into the office.

de Guise explained the firm’s reasons for trying to encourage more in-office time saying: “We do feel working in the office brings so many benefits in building and maintaining relationships, collaboration sparking ideas and learning from each other as well as preserving our unique culture.”

Osborne Clarke isn’t the only firm encouraging lawyers back into the office, with Legal Cheek recently reporting on Skadden’s new policy which requires employees to work from the office for a minimum of four days a week.


The bonus ain’t worth it



At Osborne Clarke or in general?


They are right to do so.

Employment Lawyer

Lol. They are going to mess this up badly.

Ok Boomer

Do you want mass emigration of fee earning staff? Because this is exactly how you get mass emigration of fee earning staff.

And no, ‘mass’ does not mean it will happen all at once.

Just think about the incentives here: get a paltry bonus that may just barely cover that extra annual cost of regular commuting into the office, or just quite quit and wfh. And yes this policy will incentivise quiet quitting, because why the hell should anyone working from home now bother putting in the extra sweat into working towards a bonus?

Do these dimwits at the head of business decision making not understand normal human psychology and incentives? It really isn’t just about the money. I hope the rest of the city pays close attention to the incoming implosion of OC’s early mid – level and higher associates.

US Associate

If you’re not as a US Cravath-scale firm, don’t trouble yourself about the bonus. The bonuses at the MC firm I was at previously weren’t great


Outside of firms you describe, what’s the ballpark on a bonus as a percentage in UK firms? Please correct me if it varies in different types of UK-based firms


Depends. MC/SC usually kick in to gear at 1800/1900 hours for 10/15% and then 20%+ for 2,100 hours. But as the poster mentioned above, when you really think about the commitment, sometimes its just not worth it. I say sometimes, because there are geniunly busy years where you don’t even think about hours and you have already hit your target.


You are out of date – Freshies is now around 40-50% of salary for mid levels

Legal Recruiter

A lot of City law firms are pushing to get their staff back in the office at least 3-4 days a week and billable hours will creep up too.


“We do feel working in the office brings so many benefits in building and maintaining relationships, collaboration sparking ideas and learning from each other as well as preserving our unique culture”

Has anyone genuinely ‘sparked’ a great idea whilst sat in the office of a law firm? Or is this just presenteeism regardless of results and recorded chargeable hours.

Disappointed lawyer

Let’s hope this doesn’t catch on. ESG and diversity and inclusion are all harmed by a forced return to the office.


It’s not exactly a new story. OC’s have been pushing 3 days a week in the office for well over a year


The problem I see is that more and more firms are now enforcing a return to the office, most 3 days a week. Fee earners will complain but alternatives that will allow complete WFH flexibility appears to be disappearing.


There a lots of alternatives if you look outside the ‘city box’. So many fin tech companies and start up law firms now ‘stealing’ clients from OC and similar. paying good money, non-toxin environment and actually enjoyable office life (as well as wfh). Too many lawyers are looking for ‘prestigious’ (defined by their parents or firms hah( rather than ‘happy’ or ‘smart’.

MC Junior Associate

Widespread long-term WFH results in the evaporation of institutional knowledge, extremely underskilled junior lawyers with rubbish soft skills, unmotivated staff and a total breakdown of esprit de corps. A day or two of WFH a week is a nice thing to have, but the idea of spending the majority of the working week away from your colleagues is completely ridiculous.

And as for this absurd notion that everyone will quit if they have to work in the office three days a week (ie forty per cent less than any lawyers in the history of mankind) – it’s patently obvious that they won’t, and that they will do what human beings have always done and get on with the job. Because whilst it might be nice to spend five days a week in splendid isolation, it’s nicer to have a well-paid cushy job.


Aren’t most firms doing 3 days a week though??


sadly yes (in the City, male-dominated ones) , but at least they don’t link the bonuses to it.

Enough with the made up firm names

Never heard of these osborn clerks


A lot of comments from out of touch lawyers, with no children or any other sort of commitments other than to their ‘work’. The ‘bonus’ wouldn’t even cover travel expenses for most non-lawyer staff. The comments/new policy by OC suggests that they value presence rather than quality work and employee satisfaction.

Sure if your only commitments is to turn up at your desk to over paid job then fine.

Balancing responsibilities such as parenting with office attendance with regular school strikes, train strikes, or whatever other strikes are on the horizon just to be present when the job can be more often than not be done from your own home seems unnecessary. The bonus just is not worth it unless you are earning significant amounts as it is. This is not the culture that OC claims to promote.


Mediocre firm makes its staff more unhappy. I can see where that leads.

Join me in the Smoking Room

In the office? I was just told to leave it! But let Let me remind you little whinging, puling, miscreant children that whilst I may have been told I am not allowed the congeniality of my male colleagues’ company in the hallowed halls of our fine firm. I will meet the men in the Smoking room! Yes, the EIC dues are paid, the horses fed, and the Au Pair has taken the kids for a lunch.

So who is laughing? I am laughing.

Sad lawyer

Dechert just announced Tuesday to Thursday in office policy from 4 September. Attendance to be monitored and tied to performance reviews and bonuses…

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