FREEHILLS managing partner Gavin Bell has sent an email to all staff detailing pay expectations next year, and predicting further loss in next year's profit and in partners' incomes.
The email, sent today and obtained by The New Lawyer, informs staff that the pay freeze implemented earlier this year will continue into the new year. But two salary reviews next year will see the freeze lifted for some.
Staff will be considered for pay rises in March and then again in June, judged on market salary rates, individual performance and any increase in experience.
Bell said that if t the end of the 2009/10 year the firm finds it is performing well, and that profit for 2009/10 is above that for 2008/09, the "upside will be shared with staff, in an equitable way".
"We will continue to monitor our progress, and I will keep you informed," Bell said. But, he warned, "at the moment, it does not look like we will exceed last year's profit".
Bell said, however, that the pay reviews are taking place on a backdrop of predicted commercial recovery in 2010.
"We feel the 1 March date will achieve a fair balance between the original aims of the salary freeze and the improving market conditions we hope to see in the new year," he said.
However, the outlook is not good at the partnership level.
"Separately and outside of these salary reviews, we are still predicting that the firm's profit and therefore partners' incomes, are likely to drop this financial year," Bell said.
Bonuses will be assessed in the June review for the whole of the 2009/10 year.
The June review may mean the firm will have to make some additional salary adjustments effective 1 July 2010, "to ensure we are taking any change in performance and external market factors, at that time, into consideration".
The second review will take into account any relevant movement in market salaries between March and June, and increases in experiences such as a third year lawyer who by then is a fourth year, Bell said.