A number of City firms have defied the coronavirus downturn, announcing strong partner promotion rounds and high trainee retention rates.
Magic circle firm Linklaters has elected 30 new partners worldwide – down from 33 last year – including 14 in the UK. Of the promotions, 27% went to women, meaning the firm missed its target to elect at least 30% female talent.
Senior partner Charlie Jacobs said the promotions are a ‘testament to the firm’s resilience,’ adding: ‘Whilst the impact of Covid-19 on the global economy is something which cannot be ignored, we have always taken a long term view at Linklaters in relation to promoting talent.’
Linklaters revealed last week that it will not be paying out its partner distributions in June in order to protect its cashflow. Salary reviews have also been pushed back six months and the firm has frozen all but essential recruitment.
City firm CMS has announced the promotion of 41 new partners globally, including 18 in the UK. Women accounted for half of the new UK partner promotions and over 40% of all new partners globally.
Meanwhile, Macfarlanes has retained four of its five trainees who qualified last month, stressing its ‘long term view’ of talent needs. ‘These are uncertain times but the continued success of our firm demands that we have the talent to meet the sustained demand from our loyal clients when the market recovers,’ said Seán Lavin, partner and head of graduate recruitment.
However, firms continue to announce furloughs and freezes to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Ashurst has announced it is reducing the monthly sums paid to partners by 20% for the next six months and employees – excluding those in the busiest areas and those paid below a certain threshold – are being asked to adopt an 80% work pattern for three months from May, with an equivalent pay cut. Salary reviews have also been deferred until November and bonuses have been split into two tranches.
Meanwhile, over 90% of eligible employees at Norton Rose Fulbright have agreed to reduce their working week by 20% and to be paid 80% of their base salary from 20 April.
Magic circle firm Slaughter and May has suspended all partner distributions, with the funds being retained in the business.
Hogan Lovells is to furlough UK staff and bonuses and profit distributions for partners will be spread out equally over each month. Salary reviews due to take place in May have been delayed until later this year. The firm has also cancelled its summer student programme and instead has made training contract offers to most of the students and a place on the firm’s winter training programme to others.
A number of support staff at Osborne Clarke have been placed on furlough and external recruitment has been frozen. Partners will defer 75% of their special draws going forward and will continue to make capital contributions which were agreed before the crisis began. Pay reviews have also been deferred until November and the firm does not currently intend to pay staff bonuses.
Baker McKenzie said it is not imposing any immediate measures in London but continues to monitor the situation. Temporary cost reductions have been introduced across its global network however, with pay cuts at US offices.
The executive board at Irwin Mitchell has agreed a 10% pay cut for the lockdown period which partners can voluntarily support on the same basis. Flexible working is also being encouraged with rules on working at home relaxed. A small number of field based workers in the debt recovery business have been furloughed.