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L&L corp pays one-off 7% Covid-year bonus to associates (except freshers) • Annual PQE bump to be resumed

L&L makes up for PQE freeze with 7% Covid bonus increment
L&L makes up for PQE freeze with 7% Covid bonus increment

L&L Partners has paid an unexpected additional bonus of 7% of annual 2020-21 financial year fixed remuneration of non-fresher and non-litigation associates.

While the amount is described as an increment to base remuneration, a spokesperson confirmed that this was only retrospective and would be paid in a one-off lump sum but would not apply to future remuneration, such as in the current 2021-22 financial year.

The firm spokesperson also confirmed that the increment-cum-bonus would only apply to “Eligible Associates, senior associates and managing associates”.

That specifically excludes freshers who have just joined the firm in the last 12 months and “is applicable from the date of completion of one year in firm”.

This one-time payment also applies only to fee-earners working in the corporate, tax and intellectual property partnerships of L&L Partners.

The litigation partnership of L&L is separate entity and its fee-earners would not be getting the same payment (the litigation partnership had in July 2020 controversially temporarily deferred fee-earner salaries, while the corporate partnership had announced any salary cuts or deferrals and had paid out bonuses by September 2020.

L&L had issued a press release about the bonus yesterday, stating:

The Firm is pleased to share that a 7% ad-hoc increase in the fixed compensation component of all eligible counsel has been delivered. This increase is for the appraised previous financial year.

Given the current situation, owing to the pandemic, an in-depth analysis of each individual’s contribution and entitlement is likely to take time, however, despite all circumstances, the Firm is adhering to its routine of, annual retainer fee increments, as an acknowledgment and in appreciation of counsels’ efforts, despite all their hardships during the on-going pandemic.

The Firm and its Partners, will explore the possibility of rolling out increments for FY 2020-21 post completion of the Annual Appraisal cycle.

That statement was not entirely clear so we had asked for clarification about what this means from feuding co-founding partners Rajiv Luthra and Mohit Saraf, and a spokesperson.

The firm had, as many others, frozen the normally annual increments that come with an increase in post-qualification experience (PQE) level of associates.

The firm spokesperson confirmed that those usually-par-for-the-course automatic increments (in non-pandemic times) would be “most likely” to be rolled out this year after appraisals of fee-earners had concluded.

L&L’s special ‘Covid’ bonus therefore partly makes up for the lack of earlier increments and is also not dissimilar and only slightly lower than Trilegal’s unexpected one month bonus payment in March (approximately working out to 8.3% of annual pay).

Around the same time as Trilegal, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and J Sagar Associates (JSA) had also retroactively unfrozen their PQE increments (though Trilegal was one of the few firms to have announced increments during Covid as normal).

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