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Clayton Utz in pay freeze confusion

Clayton Utz in pay freeze confusion

The New Lawyer can clear up confusions over top-tier firm Clayton Utz's recent salary freeze.

The New Lawyer can clear up confusions over top-tier firm Clayton Utz's salary freeze. 


This comes after what appeared to be mixed messages around whether the firm had frozen pay, and what management were telling staff. 


Clayton Utz staff were informed that a pay-freeze had been implemented across the firm just ahead of a national newspaper report, published on Wednesday, quoting the firm’s acting chief executive partner Stuart Clark saying he had “not made a final decision yet” about legal salaries. 


This report comes from Firm Spy, an Australian gossip site about the legal profession. In The Australian Financial Review article, Clark said: “I’ve been around to each office and I have updated the staff … with a frank assessment of where we’re at, what is happening, what the prospects were for salary increases.” 


If the Firm Spy report was accurate, however, this “frank assessment” would have been that “frankly, none of you are getting pay increases”. Was Clark telling the newspaper and media one thing, only to tell staff another? 


What’s going on? Well we can clear things up. The AFR interview was done days before the announcement to staff were made. But a time lag in publishing at the national newspaper meant that by the time things went to press, the state of things at the firm had changed somewhat. 


So staff were indeed told of the pay freeze just before the newspaper quoted Clark saying he had "not made a final decision" around legal salaries. But that had nothing to do with Clark's honesty, a lot to do with the problem of a publishing lag time, and maybe a little to do with the fact that Fairfax is running drastically low in sub-editors (who might normally check such things before print) at the moment. 


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