office eye sight

"If anyone asks, we're all here to check our eyesight."

The head of a network of UK law firms has been accused of putting his business's bottom line above staff safety during the pandemic by ordering his lawyers to come into the office in tier 4 regions even if they could work effectively from home.

In an extraordinary New Year's email leaked to RollOnFriday, Tony Stockdale also castigated staff for not contributing as much as they should have during 2020.

Stockdale is the chairman of the Metamorph Group, which has acquired eight firms around England and now employs over 630 people. 

In an email sent to all staff at Linder Myers on 4 January just before the latest lockdown was announced that evening, Stockdale wished his employees a Happy New Year.

But in contrast to uplifting messages of gratitude sent by other bosses to their staff in the midst of a tough period, Stockdale dressed down his workers for their failures in 2020.

"We must work together to get through this and make sure we are supportive and look after each other. Last year the vast majority of you did just this and we benefitted accordingly", wrote Stockdale. 

"Sadly though some people did not contribute as they could and should have done and expected others to do what they would not". 

"That is not the kind of attitude I expect to see in our business."

Rather than pay lip service to staff safety, in an email he sent to his management team Stockdale emphasised that profit was of paramount importance. He included the management email in his all-staff message, telling the recipients, "I think it is important you see it for yourselves".

"All our offices are now in either Tier 3 or Tier 4 and it is our job to make sure the potential disruption this may cause is minimised and, as we agreed at our meeting on the 11th December, 'we hit budget'", wrote Stockdale in the quoted management email.

"To do that means all offices being fully open for business with the vast majority of our people working, at least in part, in the office. Please make sure this happens and you all lead by example".

Stockdale quoted Tier 4 government rules that "everyone who can work effectively from home should do so" and acknowledged in his email that "some senior fee earners can, arguably, work well from home". However, he instructed them to travel in to work regardless. 

"Such senior people should be leading by example and be in the office rather than expecting others to do what they are not doing themselves ie be in the office", wrote Stockdale.

"If you do not then I am certain your team will not hit budget which is unacceptable".

Stockdale signed off with the reality-defying conclusion, "So as you can see it is very much 'business as usual' right from the start of 2021 which is going to be another very exciting year for Metamorph Group".


Excerpt of Stockwell's email to all Linder Myers staff.

The edict to work in the office also affected less senior staff, said an insider. A junior lawyer who joined the firm in Autumn 2020 was told in her first week she was not permitted to work from home, said a source. 

"On the Wednesday of her first week, her manager came into the office coughing. By the Thursday it was confirmed her manager had covid and they were sent home", said a source.

Following the announcement of the lockdown in England, Stockdale sent a second email which reiterated that "we have already been decided [sp] we will continue to be 'fully open for business', albeit the balance between home and office working will be different and, inevitably, we will be making more use of furlough".

He concluded, "I expect we will be able to achieve our budgets (thereby protecting jobs) despite the further challenges provided - we sell, sell, sell".

Stockdale and Linder Myers did not respond to requests for comment.

Interpret the rules your way and take the survey here.

Tip Off ROF


That Tony Stockdale? 08 January 21 08:54

Is this the same Tony Stockdale who was involved with Tenon before it went bust?

DedSec 08 January 21 08:55

Tony, if there's enough work coming in to meet budget, but your lawyers can't effectively deal with it at home, the problem is with your infrastructure, not your people. Although soon you will also have a problem with your people, because they will move to a firm that is not stuck in the 19th century.

Anon 08 January 21 09:14

Agree entirely with DedSec. Who on earth would want to work with Stockers after revealing those colours? Deary, me.

Anon 08 January 21 09:42


That's awful and completely out of touch with (i) people, (ii) the reality of the situation in the UK and (iii) most other reasonable law firms / companies ...

Anon 08 January 21 09:47

Appalling.  He clearly only cares about his pocket.  Utterly despicable at a time when the new variant is far more contagious and the govt is telling people not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary.   It’s this kind of selfish and utterly irresponsible behaviour that is contributing to the lockdown.  

Paul 08 January 21 09:49

Totally opposite approach to my firm which has in effect banned almost everyone from the office unless they have a convincing reason why they have to go in.  We seem to be managing.

Gobblepig 08 January 21 12:01

@Judy Carter - the SRA has far more important things to do right now, namely policing our sex lives and enforcing its woke view of morality law upon us all. 

Anonymous 08 January 21 12:25

Yes, so long as he carries on like this in a way that doesn't involve misgendering anyone or putting his hand on his junior associate's leg under the table during a meeting, then I can't see what the problem is.

Do people here really think that missing budget is acceptable?

Trooths 08 January 21 12:32

LOL at billion dollar+ firms effectively working from home with offices fully shut for the best part of a year and this tin pot outfit run by presumably a turbo**** of the highest order, endangering employee wellbeing for a power trip. 

Anonymous 08 January 21 12:37

I don't support the government's approach to Covid entirely, but employers like prove why the argument that just letting those who feel vulnerable isolate will never work. If they can behave like this when restrictions are as strict as they are, WTF would happen if it was all voluntary?

Anonymous 08 January 21 12:37

Somebody should inspect their offices and conformity with CV work safety guidelines. With this attitude, I doubt they will be COVID safe and expect they are exposing staff to serious risk of illness...

Happy Ex-Employee 08 January 21 12:59

I am pleased and relieved that I am no longer a Metamorph Group Employee.

I am pleased that this information has been made public as well as other information on Stockdale and Metamorph.

For those employed by Metamorph, I really do have sympathy for you. 


Anon 08 January 21 13:18

If some of LM staff can work from home effectively, they should be doing so, no ifs or buts. Local authorities have the power to close business premises for non-compliance and they have done so....

Anonymous 08 January 21 13:31

This isn’t an isolated case. It’s happening at loads of smaller firms, either directly by partners telling their teams to come in or by partners coming into the office every day themselves and thereby placing indirect pressure on associates and support staff to do so.

The SRA genuinely should investigate this, as acting at a minimum in contravention of government guidance and in some cases actually in breach of law is clearly bringing the profession into disrepute and shows a stunning lack of both integrity and basic human decency.

Surrey Solicitor 08 January 21 13:33

I am  in a support bubble with my 77 year old mother ( cancer and heart issues). I work for a small firm in Surrey which would like to think it is a regional firm. I received a similar email telling me to set an example by going in to an office I am not convinced is safe . It is not just the big firms that are xxxxs, it is the wannabe failures on the high street  too. 

Tones Budget Boi 08 January 21 14:09

Y  O  U  R

T   E   A   M

W    I    L    L

N     O    T

H      I      T

B       U       D       G       E       T

LM insider 08 January 21 15:17

If you look on the Linder Myers website there is an obituary for a principal lawyer of theirs who sadly died of covid in November. Stockdale's insensitivity is shocking, but sadly not a surprise. 

Employment lawyer 08 January 21 15:21

I'm a partner at a small firm and we have virtually banned staff from going in.

(And we've still hit our budgets.)

Being under budget is unacceptable 08 January 21 18:48

Having visited the website of firm, Tony Stockdale looks like the kind of chap who likes to sweat the assets particularly hard and then some pumps them some more for good measure. He’s got the demanding catholic boarding school headmaster look.

Anon 08 January 21 19:00

From the "our people" page

"Tony..has extensive experience in directing and motivating management teams...".They forgot to add "by behaving like an overseer on an ante bellum Louisiana plantation" 

Tiny Stickdale 08 January 21 19:04

I can tell you that most staff are outraged by his email.  It’s not the first one. He seems to think people will put up with it because the job market is slow - let’s see what it’s like come April.  He’s no businessman.  

Random Scot 08 January 21 23:14

And yet my firm has banned everyone from coming in without special permission (and threatened disciplinary action if you flout this rule) and we look to be hitting budget just fine. Being treated as human beings helps

Anonymous 09 January 21 02:34

There are many, many Stockdales and this model in firms across the country. 

The model works because solicitors, in general, have the commerciality of a conker. Stockdale is an accountant. He knew bean counting could be commoditised. He assumed law could be too. He was right, but he had no idea how.

Solicitors tend to think they're somewhere between Alan Turing and Andy McNab in their client's eyes. They're not of course, they're generally loathed for being insipid, slow and expensive. Equally, delivering a Denning level service is rarely if ever appropriate to a transaction.  

I hope I never hear of another firm of solicitors being run by non-solicitors. It's unedifying and unnecessary. 


Anonymous 09 January 21 14:04

I do feel sorry for the staff some of who I know and are extremely worried, I’m sure he sent the email from the safety of his own home as well.

at no point has he ever led by example, this is a typical monthly update email from the motivator of nothing (apart from doom and gloom with scare tactics) normally emails include how they are struggling and will need to look at furloughing and potentially job cuts WHILST announcing their next accusations, I’m an ex employee and have seen things like this on many occasions from this group.

best thing I ever did was get out, one things for certain the amount of staff leaving there is no chance budgets will be hit if he carries on to forget his staff are his most valuable asset!!



Another ex employee 10 January 21 15:09

As another ex employee who is glad to use “ex” this type of email is a regular occurrence with him.  He describes his type of management as driven.  Being made redundant was a huge plus for me  to be away from the very bad management.  It’s a case of my way or the highway with Stockdale and Co. 

Anon19 11 January 21 12:05

Wow Tony, that is so insensitive and you clearly haven’t suffered a loss from covid first hand, or you might think differently about the safety of your staff! They all probably work even harder and longer hours from home as less distraction! At least make it optional and let them choose where they would be more comfortable working. Show them some respect and maybe they will hit budget for you.  Go back to playing golf and spreading the virus. 

Typical 12 January 21 10:33

Even for a firm of this size you get the business type meddling, then it's no surprise my firm made people redundant for complain about the same thing.

Moany Stockfail 13 January 21 18:59

You think that's bad. Ask him about the staff pensions and the fact that they hold on to the contributions for three months before paying them into the scheme

Optimis Metamorphosis 13 January 21 23:11

Is Metamorph a legit group name?! I thought ROF were taking the mick. Definitely sounds like a parody. 

I Goddard 14 January 21 11:59

Look I've had enough of this now. Why won't you leave us alone. All we want to do is float the company in the next year or two and walk away with 5 to 10 million for each director. Why on earth should staff welfare get in the way of our gravy train. 

Tony’s key workers 14 January 21 21:47

It’s ok we are here for you Tony working hard in the office it’s tough call Covid over profits but let’s keep going mate we can do this and hit budget  

Tony’s key workers 14 January 21 22:00

It’s ok we are here for you Tony working hard in the office it’s tough call Covid over profits but let’s keep going mate we can do this and hit budget  t

And another happy ex employee 14 January 21 22:01

Shocking company to work for and these actions do not surprise me in the slightest. Always looking after the profit margins. 

The emails that Tony sent out in my time at LM were absolutely shocking to say the least. Absolutely no respect or appreciation for the staff that work there. 

A long standing and very well respected member of staff died of covid whilst working there and the fact that hasn't changes the thought process here is absolutely disgusting.

For all the staff still at LM the grass is most certainly greener. GET OUT!! 

Messy Divorce 14 January 21 22:43

Its really funny this thread. They should rename it the JMW muck chucking thread on the account of how many of their staff are "contributing" .Don't be so bitter guys apparantly your now in Nirvana. Or so you keep telling us!!!!!

Floaters 11.59 14 January 21 23:42

If you work for a floater it is beyond grim because everything is directed towards paying as much money as possible to the shareholders.

The floaters will find it harder and harder to recruit people.  Avoid them.  They are miserable places where career progression is non-existent. 

Related News