The Firms

March 17, 2009 11:02 AM

Bad News from the U.K.

Posted by Zach Lowe

We've got some interesting details on three firms using different tactics to handle the economic crunch in the U.K., courtesy of Legal Week, an Am Law Daily sibling publication.

Let's start at Allen & Overy, which last month announced plans to cut nearly 50 partners and 100 associates as part of a major restructuring. Legal Week has details of the process today, including the seven criteria the firm will use to select the layoff victims (a list that includes sickness and disciplinary records). Also of interest: The firm appears to be offering a fairly generous severance package. They'll continue paying salaries through May and pony up three and a half week's pay for every year served at the firm, Legal Week says. That's far better than DLA Piper's proposed package of one week's pay for each year served, a deal employees aren't happy with. In addition, Allen & Overy is offering lawyers a lump-sum payment of up to about $13,500 depending on seniority, Legal Week says.

In other U.K. news, CMS Cameron McKenna has asked all of its equity partners to become so-called "fixed-share partners" instead of traditional equity partners, according to this story. The firm won't say how many partners they hope will accept the deal, and they are resisting any attempt to label the move a deequitization. They say the fixed-share partners, who will receive a fixed share of money from the firm's profits pool, will still technically hold equity in the firm and keep their partner votes. Interesting. 

Finally, we've got regular old layoffs at Denton Wilde Sapte, with 76 employees--including 37 lawyers--losing their jobs, according to this piece. About half of the group volunteers, and a small handful of others saved their jobs by volunteering for six-month sabbaticals and other alternative schedules. 

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