Stewarts will slap its partners with a fine of £100 if they record fewer than six hours on any given day.

Managing Partner John Cahill sent a memo this week to all fee-earners at the firm stating that there had been a "persistent problem" with many partners and staff failing to record their time promptly. He outlined a new set of rules to crack down on time sheet tardiness which stated that partners are expected to '"lead from the front" and would have to prepare an additional time-sheet report to be sent to the Headmaster Managing Partner each week. Partners with missing timesheets without a "compelling explanation" will be subject to "a compulsory £100 charitable contribution for each day on which their time recording is less than 6 hours" to be paid to the Stewarts Foundation.

"You've let your school down, you've let your house down, but most importantly you've let yourself down"    

Stewarts is a business, it needs to get the cash in, and encouraging partners to keep on top of this is not necessarily a bad thing. Particularly as associates at most firms are repeatedly brow-beaten by partners to record their time promptly, However a source told RollOnFriday that "it hasn't gone down well" since "junior partners are up in arms about the lack of consultation and the fact the fine is the same for them as it is for the big cheeses on £2.5m a year".

A spokesman from the firm said "Our firm is passionate about openness and transparency and in the billing process that can be best achieved by the contemporaneous recording of time. Like most firms we have sophisticated systems to capture time but lawyers still need to be encouraged to capture all their time and release it on a daily basis to ensure accuracy.
It is important that our Partners set the very best example for younger members of the firm. We have therefore introduced a requirement for charitable donations to the Stewarts Foundation for those Partners that do occasionally default. We will exercise discretion and operate the system fairly. Our Partners are well remunerated and  the cost will not be a disproportionate to them and they will be supporting  charitable causes. 
The 6 hour threshold includes both chargeable and non-chargeable time and is intended to encourage best practice rather than drive chargeable time or revenue. Following consultation at the Partners strategy day in March the system will be introduced from 1 May 2018.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 27 April 18 09:59

If it includes chargeable and non-chargeable time, then really it shouldn't be difficult to get 6 hours down provided you did a full day at the office...

Anonymous 27 April 18 10:34

Sp which is it?

"junior partners are up in arms about the lack of consultation..."


"Following consultation at the Partners strategy day in March the system will be introduced from 1 May 2018."

Anonymous 27 April 18 10:50

I worked at a firm that did this but then the partners would just get their secretary to put their time on a non-chargeable matter until they could be arsed to record their chargeable time.

Anonymous 27 April 18 10:58

Don't most fee earners have to post 7 hours chargeable on top of the non-chargeable? 6 hours of both is nothing!

Anonymous 27 April 18 12:41

I am not an employment lawyer but doesn't this breach the law? I thought there were loads of important rules about compulsory deductions from PAYE pay ( assume some partners are paid under PAYE / salaried) from the Victorian ages when people used to take stuff off for employee food and all sorts. The truck acts rings a bell?
If they have got the law wrong then that is really bad PR for a law firm.

Anonymous 27 April 18 14:30

anon at 11.41 - most partners aren't employees (and increasingly since the tax position changed), and I remember feeling the cold wind of lost employment protections on becoming a partner (my firm's partnership deed allowed partners to be fired without notice "for any or no reason"). I think Ince has a brilliant idea - firms stand or fall on people bothering to record time swiftly and if partners can't be bothered to explain where they were every day, they shouldn't be forcing other people to, and I think £100 a day is pretty light in the circs.

Anonymous 27 April 18 19:00

At £500 per hour that’s £3000 per day. 230 days a year. Circa £700,000 billing per annum per partner. As if!

Anonymous 30 April 18 19:17 intended to encourage best practice rather than drive chargeable time or revenue. Yeah, righto.