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Blog Name: Jamie's blog

Wannabe judges challenged to give up crack in unfortunate juxtaposition
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28 July 2015

People from all walks of life use the courts, with occasionally unexpected consequences for their noticeboards. Like this one at Willesden Magistrates Court:

It's an unfortunate juxtaposition. Or is it? It could be deliberate. Perhaps the Judicial Appointments Commission will only consider you eligible for judghood if you can crack crack. Which makes sense. No-one wants a judge who is prone to psychosis, has teeth the colour of bees and 'finds' an extra £500 a day by flogging court stationary down the Pit & Crown. Although it does mean that candidates have to get on crack first, which is a big ask for an assessment day that might not go anywhere. It's certainly a step above buying new Clarks and getting a haircut.

  All rise

As an aside, the poster for Crack Group is surprisingly cheery, isn't it? The designer may have weaned himself off crack, but crack puns are still very much on the menu. I understand the reasoning behind it. You want to make giving up crack look as fun as staying on it, more fun if possible, and so you use every tool at your disposal.

It's just that the only tools at Crack Group's disposal appear to be cartoonish fonts and a deep, uncritical love of wordplay. The result looks like an advert for a children's puzzle club. And that's cool, except that it's not an advert for a children's puzzle club, or a maze, and anyone who rocks up with their family expecting face painting is going to find twelve chairs in a circle and two hours of banal horror and withdrawal symptoms. Shaking effort. Tales of degradation so pitiful they kill fairies. So ignore that pester power! Unless you want to subject your loved ones to Requiem for a Dream 2: Willesden. Or you've ever thought about becoming a judge.
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Vacancy of the week for desperate barristers
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24 July 2015

A job-hunting reader writes, "I know things are not good at the independent Bar, but I do think asking a barrister to work for £7 per hour takes the piss".

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20 million stab-proof vests, please
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24 July 2015

A few days ago a person spammed RollOnFriday with an offer of stab-proof vests. I ran with it, and published the resulting correspondence.

I thought I'd probably run too far with it when I asked crack stab-proof vest salesman 'Andyke'  for answers to some ridiculous questions. That he had dismissed me as a timewaster. Moved on to spamming other businesses which, in all likelihood, also did not need or want stab-proof vests. I was wrong.


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Exclusive: Key Irwin Mitchell partner leaves with immediate effect
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21 July 2015
One of Irwin Mitchell's leading partners has left the firm with immediate effect.

Head of commercial litigation Nigel Kissack arrived from Pinsent Masons in 2013 with great fanfare. IM chief executive Niall Baker said that he'd been looking for the right candidate for the job for over two years. He said Kissack would come up with a strategy to expand the personal injury giant's commercial litigation teams across the UK.

Since then IM has grown considerably, hoovering up six firms and growing to 2,300 staff. But this week, less than two years later, Kissack has departed with no replacement.

    The disappeared, yesterday

A spokesman for Irwin Mitchell appeared to downplay Kissack's role by initially stating that he was the head of commercial litigation in London, rather than for the whole firm. He said that Kissack, “had been considering the option of retiring for some time and decided that this is the perfect time to stand down. We agreed that he would retire immediately to enable us to effect the change quickly and continue the forward momentum we have generated in the team".
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Allen & Overy's massive pay rises are a gamechanger
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20 July 2015

Allen & Overy has given huge pay rises to associates in a gamechanger which looks set to force elite firms to pay lawyers more.

A&O watched and waited as Linklaters, Slaughter and May, Clifford Chance, and Freshfields all announced their rises. Then on Friday it unveiled salary increases of up to £22,000, leapfrogging the Magic Circle competition:

State of pay
1PQE 2PQE 3PQE Total post-qualification earning over four years**
A&O (old pay)  Raised
 (66.5) 78.5
 (72.5) 92  (82.5) 104.5  (93.5) 115  390
Clifford Chance
 Raised  70  75.5  88  98.5  332
 Frozen  70
 75 90.6
 96.8  332
 68.5  74  85.6  95.5  324
 Raised  70  75.5  87  96.5  329

*NQs and 1PQEs fall within Freshfields' Career Milestones Foundation band which pays £67,500 to £77,500. 2PQEs and 3PQEs fall within CM1 which pays £87,500 to £100,000  
**excluding bonuses

Trainee salaries have also been nudged up, by £2,000, but the associate pay rises are the headline grabbers with 2PQEs receiving a massive 27% increase. Lawyers are in for an extra-special Summer since the August hikes are being backdated to May.

  Time for an upgrade

Increases are so fulsome because the firm has decided that instead of paying bonuses every year, they will be folded into the base salary.
Bonuses will still be available, but for "exceptional" contributions only.

A&O said an internal review revealed that associates would value a bigger salary more than an annual bonus and, heartwarmingly, A&O's lawyers are so consistently excellent that there's no need to wait and see whether they deserve one. Global Managing Partner Wim Dejonghe said that by adding the "standard" bonus to base salaries, "we provide our associates with more certainty as to their pay", and "more consistent recognition for the work they do every day". It's also very useful for anyone applying for a mortgage, as pointed out by impressed lawyers on the discussion board.

The new base pay won't be viewed by anyone as a salary-plus-most-of-a-bonus, of course. These figures constitute the new normal. Law firms always bleat that salaries may look low but can be made up by AMAZING bonuses. They may, they may not. The real point is that associates live on their salaries and not their bonuses. You might upgrade your car, go on a flash holiday etc. if you have a good year, but it doesn't educate your kids or inform your choice of house. A&O appears to have fundamentally understood this and done something about it. And so now A&O 3PQEs will receive £19,500 more than their peers at Linklaters. Every other firm will curse it. They will surely be forced to follow suit, as when legacy SJB and then Clifford Chance upped associate salaries enormously in 1998. 

The pay rises also represent a significant trespass by a UK firm into US territory. The Magic Circle has previously shied away from engaging in a pay arms race with US firms, steadfastly refusing to pay lawyers tens of thousands more to match them, arguing that the MC constitutes an unrivalled brand with the stability of long-term career prospects. But, as Matthew pointed out, that's changed. US firms have either caught up or are close to doing so on all fronts - plus they pay a shedload more.

Or did. A&O's new salaries may not be at Debevoise & Plimpton levels (where 3PQEs are on £123,500), and its NQ salary trails, but, a
s the pay table reveals, at other junior levels it's suddenly there or there abouts with a slew of US firms. From August, a 3PQE at Allen & Overy will be on a higher salary than contemporaries at big-spenders like Weil, Shearman and Skadden. That will make an impression at recruitment fairs and amongst laterals A&O wants to target.

With UK firms forced to play catch-up and US firms keen to claw back their lead, things are about to get spenny.

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There's something a bit samey about these Turkish lawyers
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17 July 2015

See if you can guess what Turkish firm Pekin & Bayar's trick is to make staff look determined and serious.


Very forceful. Although the effect is slightly undone by the firm's choice of inspirational quote.

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RollOnFriday offered stab-proof vests
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16 July 2015

Apparently Andyke's marketing department told him RollOnFriday would be interested in his product.

I haven't heard anything today but I presume that's just because Andyke's checking out the specs.
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Exclusive: Scottish firm in massive North Korea howler
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06 July 2015

Scottish firm Gillespie Macandrews has dropped an enormous clanger.  According to the firm, North Korea and Nicola Sturgeon have struck up diplomatic relations.

Though some may argue that Scotland and North Korea make natural bedfellows, what with both despising their southern neighbours, purging governments and longing to rid themselves of their nuclear stockpiles (albeit only one by shooting it at American devils), the Hermit Kingdom is not doing business with the SNP.

Instead Gillespie Macandrews just shat the bed. The firm hurriedly deleted its insane tweet and replaced it with one referring to the Republic of Korea. But the damage has been done. A diplomatic incident looks unavoidable. Not only will the firm's cack-handed mistake have insulted South Korea, it's used a picture in which the chap from overseas has been shunted to one side so a sweaty Gillespie Macandrews partner can seize his moment with Sturgeon. So ronery.

Read more on Friday.
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HogLove's Autumn retention rate best in three years
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03 July 2015

Hogan Lovells has posted an improved trainee retention rate of 79%.

The firm scored 72% in Spring - though one NQ was on a fixed term contract - but has managed a 79% retention rate in respect of its September-qualifying intake. Of the 29 trainees, 26 applied for jobs, 25 received offers and 23 accepted. Again, though, one is on a fixed term contract.

Spookily enough, 44% (10) of the NQs are becoming corporate lawyers. Of the remainder, six are joining the Litigation, Arbitration & Employment practice, four Finance, two Competition and one real estate.

    "Some new blood wouldn't go amiss, I can't sharpen the crayons like I used to"

HogLove's trainee retention rates have been in the 70s for the last six intakes. But if the NQ on a fixed term is given a permanent job, making this Autumn's stat a bona fide 79%, it will represent the firm's best result in three years.

Let RollOnFriday know your firm's Autumn retention rates.
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Breaking: poonami at Macfarlanes
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03 July 2015

Someone's reached the end of their tether at Macfarlanes:

Thanks to the spotter for bringing the Four Square Limit Stool Cushion Rule to RollOnFriday's attention.

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