Legal Business Blogs

Trowers & Hamlins latest to freeze pay as Brexit fallout continues

Trowers & Hamlins is the latest firm to place a freeze on fee earners’ pay, citing the ‘economic uncertainty’ following Brexit.

After the EU referendum, associates received an email from the firm’s HR director saying Trowers was holding off on reviews until the next board meeting on 21 July.

However, in an email leaked to Roll On Friday, senior partner Jennie Gubbins outlined the firm would make a final decision on whether salary reviews would go ahead during the firm’s September management board meeting which will take place on the 15th. Gubbins added she was ‘hopeful’ salary rises would go through at that time.

Salaried partners, however, had their pay reviews completed in March with pay increases going through in April.

Trowers posted mixed results for the 2015/16 financial year. Total revenues jumped 8% to £85.6m, up from £79.4m the year before, but profits per equity partner (PEP) dropped by 8% to £310,000 from £336,000 the year prior. The firm’s topline benefited from a combination with Devon-based Stones Solicitors, which it announced in September 2015. Stone Solicitors had an annual turnover of about £5m.

Following the vote to leave the EU, in July Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) became the first law firm to freeze pay for its UK staff. The move affects all UK-based staff apart from partners who take a share of the profits. Reviews were postponed for four months with pay reviews set to go ahead in November.

Addleshaw Goddard and Gowling WLG followed suit, with Addleshaws announcing it would delay both salary reviews for staff and its annual review of fixed profit share for salaried partners. The firm has also postponed the next profit distribution for equity partners. Addleshaws’ staff bonuses for last year’s performance, however, will still be paid out in September. Gowling WLG also confirmed it will delay its 2016 salary review until the autumn, but added that bonus payments were paid as usual in the July payroll and summer promotions had gone ahead as planned.

In the most drastic move in the wake of the Brexit vote yet, Simmons & Simmons laid off lawyers in its London office following the vote but has refused to comment on the number of redundancies. Banking and real estate are two practices known to be affected. The redundancies followed a 10% slump in PEP in 2015/16 to £585,000.

On Wednesday (10 August) Legal Business revealed there has been a total of 319 UK admissions to the Irish Bar in 2016 following the Brexit vote with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Eversheds making up the bulk of applicants.