Firms have continued to react to the coronavirus crisis this week, with more solicitors facing salary freezes and bonus delays.
International firm Stephenson Harwood has withheld the quarterly draw for equity partners and has furloughed its team of 19 administrators, along with a ‘small number’ of outsourced staff. No fee earners have been furloughed, however, and no one has seen their salary reduced. The firm said bonuses will go ahead as normal and it will decide whether to defer pay reviews in the next six weeks.
CEO Eifion Morris said: ‘At a time when many firms are withholding bonuses, we have decided to go ahead with them, without delay or deferral of any part. The rationale is quite simple: our 2019/20 financial year will be strong in the circumstances, and that’s largely down to tremendous efforts from our people. Bonuses are retrospective, and it’s right that these efforts be recognised and rewarded.’
Six senior associates have also been promoted to partners, with effect from tomorrow.
Meanwhile, City firm RPC has delayed all partner distributions and is applying a sliding scale reduction to monthly drawings of up to 20%. Business services directors are also taking a cut in salary – with the view they will be repaid at a later date – and salary reviews and bonuses have been pushed back until November. The firm said it has no plans to furlough or lay off employees and partner promotions will go ahead as normal.
At least two City firms have delayed promotions because of coronavirus. Ashurst said new partners will now be elected in November because of ‘continuing market uncertainty’, while Simmons & Simmons expects the promotion process to resume in June via video conferencing.