Exclusive: Gowling WLG drops Brexit pay freeze

Gowling WLG has become the first law firm to relaunch its annual pay review after a host of firms froze pay in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The firm was originally due to carry out its pay review process in the days following the EU referendum, which took place on 23 June.

Instability as a result of the unexpected Leave vote prompted Gowling WLG senior management to postpone all pay reviews until the autumn. The delay affected all of the firm’s staff and lawyers.

Speaking to The Lawyer Gowling WLG co-CEO David Fennel said that the firm’s staff all received a letter on Tuesday (20 September) explaining that the pay review process would restart this week.

Fennel added the firm will stick to its promise and backdate all salary increases to 1 July.

However he declined to comment on whether the pool of cash set aside for the pay review was larger or smaller than in previous years. Fennel said the pay increases would be “competitive” and in line with the firm’s peers, which include Pinsent Masons and Eversheds.

Gowling WLG was one of a number of UK law firms that opted to freeze pay following the Brexit vote.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) was the first firm to announce that it wasfreezing all of its lawyer and staff salaries in the wake of the referendum. At the same time as the announcement BLP also posted its second highest average profit per equity partner (PEP) figure of £683,000.

Addleshaw Goddard also revealed that its equity partners would have their autumn quarterly drawings “deferred” until November. The autumn drawings are usually paid to partners in August.

Trowers & Hamlins recently froze pay for its associates and business services staff. It is understood that the firm’s equity partners will not be affected by any change to their drawings or bonuses.

Simmons & Simmons took the cost-cutting measure a step further when it made job cuts across its real estate team. Around 10 real estate lawyers are understood to have been made redundant across a number of the firm’s practices, including its corporate and finance teams.