It is, according to CMS managing partner Stephen Millar.
In an interview with British journalist Jack Womack, Millar said it was entirely “justified” that lawyers from big law firms win the best as it “speaks to the quality of service offered”.
Bold words that can be taken two ways, depending on your point of view. If you’re a lawyer working at a large law firm, this is the kind of rhetoric that has been missing from the largely unfavorable compensation discourse until now. If you’re outside the legal industry, “it’s going to be tough to digest, especially these days,” one person who works in pensions told me.
Energy companies are feeling the heat so far, paying out record profits to their shareholders as much of the rest of the world feels the pinch of soaring prices.
But could there be a day when law firms too would face this kind of public outrage?
Populated with highly skilled individuals, law firms offer strong services — but, as one general counsel commented on an earnings story we posted on LinkedIn last week, prioritizing profits can mean that “the customer’s desire for good and efficient service can easily become difficult to keep in mind”.
Indeed, perhaps the legal media has a role to play in all of this. But the law firm with rising and rising wages – Jones Day raised his UK NQ salary this week to £140,000, a relatively modest sum in the current climate – looks like a math is afoot. People are asking urgent questions about the dangerously high rate of inflation right now – and similar questions are being asked of law firms too. Expect more scrutiny of billing, what kind of work is done and billed, how and why a 24-year-old novice can get into a job that pays more than most senior positions in the working world outside of the law.
Millar is nonetheless unequivocal in his support for six (and seven) figure salaries: “We should all feel privileged to work in a high-wage sector, and that’s something the sector should celebrate more than it does. the fact. A high salary is justified.
But there are other factors at play that can influence law firm spending beyond potential social pressures and impending clients. Andrew Maloney wrote about how exchange rates could affect how U.S. law firms manage certain expenses, set billing rates, and attract laterals. Discover his story here.
Add to that the dire state of world politics right now, which can be seen as both the cause and result of shocking inflation that is pushing economies ever closer to recession. In Europe, Anne Bagamery wrote about how the fall of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government has destabilized the business and financial community, with lawyers suggesting the industry will inevitably feel the shockwaves.
But it’s not all bad news. As one partner told Anne, “It may be a tough time politically, but it’s good from an industry perspective,” he said. “It’s a compromise.”
Habiba Cullen JafarResearch by to find out which of the potential candidates for the post of British Prime Minister – Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – the lawyers prefer the most (or the least), was revealing for two reasons: a) their broad support for the elegant and pragmatic Sunak and b) he showed us how wonderfully dogged lawyers can overcome politics.
Commenting off the record, one partner compared the choice to “being asked if you’d prefer still or sparkling water when you’re about to be drowned”, while another said Truss was “unfit to be kindergarten teacher”. Expect more equally wild comments in Habiba’s story here.
By way of conclusion, an article that I recommend you read is Gail J. Cohenanalysis of law firms’ efforts to combat stress and anxiety. Check out his excellent article, with what has to be my favorite title of the week: Busting the Myth of the “Gladiator” Lawyer.