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Turnover and pay metrics ‘alienate’ clients, says lawyer

Ronald Gordon with Rod Petrie and Leeann Dempster

Pinsent Mason advised on Ron Gordon’s (centre) acquisition of Hibernian FC (pic: Terry Murden)

Clients and recruits care more about how a firm performs than they do about turnover and pay, according to a top lawyer.

John Cleland, managing partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons said measuring success by earnings “risks alienating” future colleagues and those who use its services. He said turnover and pay are two metrics they least care about.

He spoke as the practice revealed that payouts for equity partners fell for a second consecutive year and revenue grew at a slower pace.

The practice’s global equity partners will each receive £546,000 against £620,000 last year and £653,000 in the previous 12 months.

Revenue in the last financial year to April rose by 4% to £495.9m against a 7% rise last year.

Mr Cleland said clients and recruits care more about cultural and behavioural qualities rather than turnover and pay which has prompted a shift towards measuring progress against four metrics.

These assess how the firm is trusted by colleagues and clients, how it works for the community and how it meets its purpose-led objectives.

He said: “We’ve chosen four headline metrics that we believe will hallmark our progress and at the same time be meaningful for colleagues, clients and a wide set of stakeholders.

John Cleland: ‘We need to change the metrics

“The pandemic has accelerated a cultural and behavioural shift across the business community. We run the risk of alienating clients and future recruits by judging success primarily by reference to turnover and equity pay.

“Those are probably the two metrics our current and future stakeholders care about the least. It’s time to start the process by which we change that.”

Speaking about the results, he said: “From a financial perspective, I would characterise FY20 as satisfactory given the disruption in a number of our markets; whether that be Brexit and political turmoil in the UK, protests in Hong Kong, US/China trade wars, US/Iran tensions impacting the Middle East or bushfires in Australia,”

Katherine Hardie: ‘Our business will come through this year strong and united’

Katharine Hardie, chairman of Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “The year ahead will present challenges the like of which we have not seen before. Despite obvious headwinds brought about by Covid-19, we’re encouraged by the momentum we’ve found going into the new financial year. 

“In Scotland, landmark deals in the past year led by our teams in Glasgow and Aberdeen, have included Ithaca Energy’s $2 billion acquisition of Chevron North Sea and the sale of football club Hibernian FC to US businessman Ron Gordon.

“Our Edinburgh office played a pivotal role in advising Winchburgh Developments on a first-in-kind private equity and public sector investment into a £1 billion housing development. The project will deliver one of the largest, most complex and ambitious place making projects in the UK.

“We firmly believe that if we continue to do business in the right way and for the right reasons, our business will come through this year strong, united and better than before.”



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