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URGENT - Sorry for the capitals - I need some urgent employment advice please - any solicitors advice partic welcome as i am a solicitor

(31 Posts)
lisalisa Mon 22-Sep-08 10:18:37

hello eveyrone. sorry again for capitals in the title to the thread.

I need some urgent advice please on redundancy/employment/ stratedgy really.

I am a commercial prpoerty solicitor practicing in a small firm just outside london. I am/was on a very generous package of shorter than usual hours and west end type salary.
my firm ( but not me) dealt wiht many of the big home lenders who have ceased business. thus two thirds of hte firm have been made redundant in recent months.

this morning I was placed at risk of redundancy and asked to take a 50% salary drop to avoid this. All delivered wiht grace and humility by the partners who find all this very difficult. they talked about me being future of firm and recognise my hard work ( I am a rainmaker and have continued tyring to make it rain during bad times - plenty of contacts/promises but nothning certian at th emomemtn)and want to keep me but can't afford it. all this I belive to be 100% true.

My dilemma is this:

1 Whether to accept this 50% drop in salary which would be very hard for us but potentially doable in the short term. Long term we would be in financial trouble but long term hopefully markets would pick up and firm said as and when that happened all could be reviewed ( they did not however say that when all picks up etc my salary would go back to normal though).

2 Whetehr to look elsewhere now. I have a 2 week consultation period after which I would be made redundant . At that point i would be asked to leave and given one month's pay ( my notice preiod pay) . So I have a further 2 weeks wiht my feet behind my desk so tp speak after which I would have nothing ( if I didn't find another job). This is importatn to me as I have several active clients and lots of potentials that I keep in contaact wiht and couldn't really be out of work for more than a week or so without risk of losing htem and all my hard work.

3 Whether to accept what they are offering and then look around for a better paid job. What also concerns me is long term security as they have indicated that even if I accept this they can't promise secirty and redundnacy may rear its head again in another month or two.

Please help me ttry to make a decision. ............sad

bundle Mon 22-Sep-08 10:20:28

oh lisalisa sad how difficult for you

have no practical advice, hope someone comes along soon, xxx

cupsoftea Mon 22-Sep-08 10:22:32

Gosh, how awful. Hope someone can help you with this xx

CountessDracula Mon 22-Sep-08 10:25:36

Have you been there less than 2 years?

Personally I would take the cut but look around

Presumably there are few jobs in this field atm so at least you would still have some income?

xserialshopper Mon 22-Sep-08 10:26:27

Sorry no experiencesad

I would be tempted to take the pay cut and then, as the job may not be safe anyway, start looking for another job straightaway. Would a 50% pay cut for 3 months say, be better than redundancy payoff?

nervousal Mon 22-Sep-08 10:30:23

I'd also take the cut and start looking for something else straightaway. Good Luck

lisalisa Mon 22-Sep-08 10:35:47

Thanks eveyone - I think i am also tempted to take the cut but with no securtiy in th eoffing and things getting worse I'm nervous of doing this as I will have very little time to look around for another job. i suppose i am thinking that if i acepted redundnacy ( and I have been there less than a year so presume they owe me nothing apart from contractual notice) at least I would have one solid month in which to job hunt. Trouble is I don't know how the market is for comm property lawyers but suspect it is worse than shit..........

the set up here is that my immediate boss is one on his own and as this firm has no cushion against the market forces due to exposure etc he may leave himself and pull rug from under me h8imself!

TheUNITUBER Mon 22-Sep-08 10:35:55

Oh dear. It's shit when this happens...

I would be inclined to accept their offer while looking for something else.

If you don't accept it sounds like you may well be out with possibly very little in the way of redundancy pay if they are that short of money and if they only pay statutory.

Commercial property lawyers are short of work all over the city at the moment. Unfortunately it might be quite difficult to find another position (unless you went to a magic circle firm - I bet they are still ticking over even if it is quieter than normal).

IME it is easier to look for a job when you're in employment than when unemployed.

xserialshopper Mon 22-Sep-08 10:51:30

Yes IME also it is much easier to look and get another job while you are already in employment.

RandomFlopsy Mon 22-Sep-08 10:56:38

3. Accept their offer whilst looking around for something else.

You'll make the notice period money up in a couple of months iykwim. A month's salary is a pretty rubbish pay off imho and ime so don't feel you owe them anything. Tbh it sounds like your firm as a whole might be about to go under with redundancies of that level and pay cuts like that so I think you ought to start looking for something else right now.

Good luck.

saladsucks Mon 22-Sep-08 10:57:09

can you call some recruitment agents at lunch time and ask them what is around and what they think you should do?

Could you offer to your firm to go into the partnership and take the remaining 50% of your salary only if the firm makes certain profits at year end? And agree to this with a tie-in period of say 1 year?

RandomFlopsy Mon 22-Sep-08 10:59:59

I wouldn't even consider going into partnership with a firm that is so clearly in serious trouble. You would be risking everything if the firm went under.

Swedes Mon 22-Sep-08 11:07:22

It sounds to me as though you need to be much clearer about what they are offering you.
Tell them contracts should be on certain terms (Harvey v Facey wink).
Will your salary return to its current level when the market picks up?
How is that "picking up" to be defined? Might they swap what you forego in salary now for a commission on the business you personally bring in?

theirmum Mon 22-Sep-08 11:08:59

how crap for you personally I would go for option 3 as you have said short term you would be ok that way you have time to find something else without too much pressure hope it all works out for you

lisalisa Mon 22-Sep-08 11:42:05

Not a partner - sorry if the explanation was unclear. saladsucks and swedes that is my concern - how and when salary wil pick up and to what level and who decides etc. I suppose they haven@t thought it through to that level yet and may ultimately say well we'll decide when and how and to what level meaning if I didn't like it at that new time i could always look around - the market forces governing therefgore whether it would be worth them paying me more again or looking for someone else cheaper on assumption I can also in that new market get something else .

I'm not entirely happy though as I feel devalued - I know its market forces etc but I do feel I am a very very good lawyer and rainmaker and they are areggetting all of me for literally notnbing. I did suggest working part time for the new salary which is more reflective but htey had that one covered and saaid part time is an option but that the salary would go down further still..sad

I will also have to make my nanny redundant too and don't even have the money to do so.........I would have to take a bloody loan to make her redundnat. And she is great and its so unfair on her toosad

saladsucks Mon 22-Sep-08 13:33:58

I feel for you. what about contacting other local firms and offering to take your following with you? They may be interested in that?

Am assuming that setting up on your own is not an option - by the time you've done all the paperwork and insurances your clients will have gone elsewhere? Might be worth considering.

fridayschild Mon 22-Sep-08 13:58:12

Lisa - sorry to read this. We made 4 commercial property lawyers redundant earlier this year and 3 have not found jobs yet, although the most senior of them has not really started looking yet. The 4th went back to Australia.

How about shifting their offer into one which is partly based on commission? You should be able to use this so that if you do get the work in you get paid more than their current offer at least. Or asking for salaried partnership as a trade? Partners get slightly more say over their future than staff, IME.

I think you need to stay where you are, at least till you have at least 12 months with them, or another job.

My only other suggestion is to get pregnant again, PDQ, to take advantage of all those lovely employment rights which accrue to pregnant ladies, and to protect yourself against Round 2 of redundancies. Specifically, the removal of the cap on earnings which can be claimed at tribunal. Possibly not suitable for someone with a large family already - and I think you fall into that category.

lisalisa Tue 23-Sep-08 10:04:22

Thanks everyone. All your posts were very useful. Not heard of Harvy v Facy - going to look that up now - not an employmnt lawyer.

Have thought of approaching firm and asking for commission basis now salary is to go to scuh a pitiful level. do you however think this is knocking them whilst they are down and likely to receive only a negative reply? Also want to ask for some reassurance as to when salary would go back to normal and to go for salaired partnership at that time. Of course I'm not sure whether I'll stay at all or whether this firm ahs a future but want to get some kind of motiviation /reassuarance. If market does pick up quite quickly ( who knows?) i don't want to be stuck on this salary de motiviated forever.

lisalisa Tue 23-Sep-08 10:07:45

Swedes - sorry to be thick here and with regard to law too but looked up H v F and couldn't see any immediate relevance unless thepoint is that all amendments to the employment contract shuold be in writing otherwise not binding on me so I could claim higher salary? If so no chance of that as they have a very hot personnel manager who makes sure all these things are documeted fast!

lisalisa Tue 23-Sep-08 10:40:48

bump please............

Swedes Tue 23-Sep-08 12:40:15

lisalisa - Stating they would be able to pay you 50% of your current salary until things pick up is insufficient detail. They have not therefore made you a proper offer - I think it's an invitation to treat

Harvey v Facey

You need all the details to be able to give it proper consideration. I would want it all to be in writing.

kaz33 Tue 23-Sep-08 12:46:54

It is tough time for comm property lawyers, whole raft made redundant at Olswang, some more have just been pruned at Linklaters.

Me, Ex Comm Property Lawyer - think I would take the pay cut if you can afford it and start looking for another job. Negotiate an commission, if you bill/recover £X then you get an extra bonus payment.

WideWebWitch Tue 23-Sep-08 12:58:10

Oh sorry to read this LisaLisa. How awful. I agree, you should consider the drop but get definite terms of any increase in writing.

It's better than leaving with nothing.

lisalisa Tue 23-Sep-08 14:27:13

Ok thanks - please urgently respond - swedes - thanks but what does that mean for me in practice if they have not made me a proper offer? I am on notice of risk of redundancy right now and this is a 2 week consultation preriod for both of us failing wihfch I am redundant in 2 mondays time. Does this case have any bearing /can i use it at all?

They have said btw that they are not prepared to stipulate when market conditions are defined to have picked up . They will not link it to billing etc. I think because they have lost their cushion of the mortgage work and even if my dept did fantasticaly they still would'nt be able to pay me what they did due to now non existance of rest of firm.

What about commission? What should I be looking at? 10%/20% of what i bill? They want meeting today to discuss!!

lisalisa Tue 23-Sep-08 14:27:25

Ok thanks - please urgently respond - swedes - thanks but what does that mean for me in practice if they have not made me a proper offer? I am on notice of risk of redundancy right now and this is a 2 week consultation preriod for both of us failing wihfch I am redundant in 2 mondays time. Does this case have any bearing /can i use it at all?

They have said btw that they are not prepared to stipulate when market conditions are defined to have picked up . They will not link it to billing etc. I think because they have lost their cushion of the mortgage work and even if my dept did fantasticaly they still would'nt be able to pay me what they did due to now non existance of rest of firm.

What about commission? What should I be looking at? 10%/20% of what i bill? They want meeting today to discuss!!

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