August 11, 2022
August 6, 2022
Inflation stands at 7.3%, its highest level in three decades. The cost of living is bananas right now.
People will start receiving cost-of-living payments from Monday
(if it can find the 164,000 currently missing).
But the $350 is available for those earning less than $70,000. In the legal sector, those at the bottom of the law firm food chain will be eligible.
And those who are not?
I asked top law firms Bell Gully, DLA Piper, Chapman Tripp, Buddle Findlay, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, Russell McVeagh, Meredith Connell, Duncan Cotterill, Dentons Kensington Swan and Simpson Grierson if they had increased their salaries.
Bell Gully declined to comment, saying the company would not be able to provide an answer, but thanked me for considering them. Cute.
DLA Piper and Meredith Connell left me on ‘reading’. Having had extensive experience of being “ghosted” in my personal life, I figured I’d deal with the situation by providing more than four working days to respond – a year in journalism time, in my opinion.
Duncan Cotterill general manager Pete Boyle was unimpressed. “Personally, I also wonder [sic] why, as a journalist who writes about better welfare conditions for staff, you chose to send your email at 5:11 a.m. on Monday,” he wrote.
Touched well sir, touched! You could say that as a freelancer, I am the master of my time – and I hadn’t realized that I had to work an inflexible 9-5 days. Nevertheless, point taken, and I considered the possibility of adding a disclaimer to my personal electronic signature, as follows:
“I work flexibly. Although I may send this email outside working hours, I do not expect you to read or respond to it outside of your own initiative. Agility. Flexibility. Resilience . Namaste.”
Let’s move on. Let’s look at what the majority of leading law firms do:
Dentons Kensington Swan
Business Development Manager Pippa Gray said that, recognizing the strain on its residents and their families due to the rising cost of living, salaries for all staff have increased by 7.5% .
National People and Culture Manager Fiona Tribe said the company raised salaries this year as part of its annual salary review process. Further raises have been given to junior lawyers in response to new market moves, she said.
Director of Clients and Markets Deborah Caldwell said the company conducts an annual compensation review and tends not to change salaries along the way, except in exceptional circumstances.
Chief executive Peter Boyle said the company has increased salaries “because we want to reward our talented and wonderful staff”.
Managing Director Andrew Poole said that in its annual compensation review process, MinterEllisonRuddWatts considers several factors including market movements, inflation, company performance and individual performance.
“After considering all factors, this year’s review saw an average salary increase from January 1 equal to or greater than the current inflation rate of 7% for legal and business services staff.”
Corporate communications manager Joanna Comerford said pay increases for everyone – legal and non-legal – in the company were announced on July 12 and backdated to July 1, 2022.
“This was to thank our entire team for their continued commitment to Russell McVeagh and to recognize and acknowledge that over the past few years we have operated in a challenging environment with the impacts of the pandemic and the increased cost of lives that affect everyone.”
The company reviews salaries at the start of each year and makes off-cycle adjustments during the year, said Joanne Fullam, senior communications manager.
Where to go from here?
Legally, some companies did not specify what these salary increases were, how they were determined and whether they applied to all staff.
And to make matters worse, I didn’t ask if there had been any restructurings or layoffs as a result of the pandemic. Instead, I asked about wage subsidies and whether companies had paid them back. Those who did, paid it back.
Duncan Cotterill’s Boyle pointed out my failings: “I also note that we provided a detailed response to your first and second questions on August 27, 2020.”
This is old news, fine sir, I understand. Noted. But I guess it was 5:11 on a Monday morning after all.
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